Behind Closed Doors: What Marie Kondo Doesn't Tell You About Decluttering

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

We're embarking on a major decluttering mission in our house. I've done it before, but we've reached Stuff Saturation point again, somehow. To say it's been driving me crazy is an understatement. In fact, if I were going to give advice to a soon-to-be-parent, one of my top tips would be to

Get Rid Of All Your Stuff.

Seriously. It would be up there with 'buy a lot of breast pads' and 'don't rely on Costa to keep you awake in the early days, because extreme tiredness combined with extra caffeine will make you feel like the world is collapsing around you'. Seriously: babies have so much stuff. Even if you determine that you don't need all the stuff, and, in fact, you will be fine with seven babygrows and a drawer to let your child sleep in, the stuff will still accumulate around you somehow.

Plus some of the stuff is really necessary. Like - places to safely put the baby. Bouncy chairs? Play mats? These take up room. (Even when I tuck it into a corner someone stubs their toe on the bouncy chair at least once a day). You will need other stuff, too. Changing mats and nappies and muslins and blankets and clothes, and eventually, toys, and the toys will breed while you sleep and you will end up drowning in them.

Just give up the ghost now. Get rid of all your stuff first. It's the only way.


Multiplication: believe it or not, this pile of toys started as a wooden kitchen and a plastic tin of peas.

I'm exaggerating (slightly) but seriously: having too much stuff lying around is a major headache with more than one child. How do you joggle a baby off to sleep without tripping over? Where is the baby's red book in the mountain of paperwork? Where is the flipping phone charger? And so on. Getting out of the house is a major mission. I used to be able to get a whole room of toddlers to stand in a line and wait patiently to have all their coats, gloves, and shoes put on. Now it is just me, and two children, but the difference is they are my children, and one of them is always hungry just at the times when we need to go out of the door.

You need things to go smoothly. Everything needs to have a place: a box with a lid that closes for toys, hooks for coats, somewhere to put hats and gloves, somewhere to put paperwork that isn't just in a pile upstairs somewhere. When you have too much stuff, you can't find stuff. And you need to be able to find stuff immediately. So this is my mission: everything, from nappies to remote controls to pens, needs to have a home. And it has to reliably live there when I need it to.


Not like this. This is how not to do things.

I've never read the Marie Kondo book, because frankly, I have Pinterest for my obsessive organisational needs, but also because some of it sounds a little bit mad. I have five, perhaps ten minutes at a time to organise my house before one of my kids needs something from me. I am not changing out of my pyjamas into a ball gown to do it. That would eat into a good third of my allocated time. Also, saying 'goodbye' to something sentimental kind of makes sense (just about), but saying 'thank you' to the instruction booklet for a Freeview box that we threw away five years ago feels a bit ridiculous, even to me.

Also, Marie Kondo wrote her book, I feel, for someone who lives on their own in a nice apartment somewhere, where you can happily empty the entire contents of your wardrobe onto the bed without having to worry about someone choking on an earring/tripping over a belt and cracking their head open. For that is one of the golden rules of Kondo-ing: empty everything out first.

I tried that with the cupboard under the stairs and it was a morning of both pure teeth-gritted determination and also, doom. Do you know how much stuff one family can squeeze into a cupboard? The answer is a lot. Do you know how hard it is to sort things out when you're tripping over all the normal living room things as well as piles of coats and odd gloves and the ball pit balls that your child has helpfully emptied all over the floor? It is nearly flipping impossible. I swear after seven years of barely any arguments that one morning nearly destroyed our marriage.*

* hyperbole alert! Before my Mum reads this and freaks out

The other thing that I don't hear mentioned is what you do with the stuff when you have determined that you don't need it. Currently there are twelve binbags in our baby's room waiting to go to the tip, plus multiple bags of random things to give away somehow. They could be sitting in there for a long time to come. So I haven't actually achieved anything really. It should be called the Magic Art of Moving Things From One Place to Another.

So TL;DR - sort all your rubbish out BEFORE you have a baby, not after.

Lesson learnt!


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2 comments:

  1. Oh I don't miss those days. But ... the dog's toys have a habit of suddenly materialising where you are least expecting them to be :)

    Love your humour Meg. x

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  2. Thank you :) hah - my daughter would love a dog - I think I'd explode from the extra clutter! x

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