Life-Changing Magic for One Mom


Two days after Christmas, I was strolling in the aisles of Barnes & Noble excited to purchase the book. I had read about it on social media, had heard all about its “life-changing” magic and was giddy with excitement, when I saw the display a few feet away. There it was… the book which would change my life, well at least my home! I was within an arm’s reach, when I saw how very TINY this book was. TINY, like the size of a miniature sized novel, but it was hard cover, and boasted a red shiny round sticker “#1 New York Times Best Seller, 3 Million Copies Sold”. I let out a happy squeal, and said to those around me (daughters not paying attention, and husband looking at me like I was nuts) THIS IS IT! THIS IS THE BOOK!

Another organizing book? was dear hubby’s reaction. No, I quickly said. “This is not about organizing! It’s about TIDYING UP. And it’s MAGIC. And LIFE-CHANGING.” See? I pointed to the cover.

For those of you unfamiliar with this magic, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, is the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing, written by Marie Kondo, an expert Japanese cleaning consultant, who decided to share her magic with the rest of the human population.The Life -Changing Magic of Tiding Up

I literally skipped out of Barnes & Noble, exciting to find out what this magic was all about.

Let me rewind, and share that organizing, and tidying up, and re-organizing is a part of who I am. I love taking things off my shelves, whether it be the bedroom or linen closets, or at 10’clock at night emptying the Tupperware cabinets onto the kitchen floor, as my hubby looks on in disbelief, often asking WHY would I do this at 10:00pm, and what is the matter with me. It’s simple: organizing and decluttering and drinking red wine helps keep me sane. In our crazy world of family, work, school and shuttling the girls all over creation the simple task of organizing helps me bring calmness to my world. I LOVE the Container Store, read as many organizing blogs as I can, and love baskets and containers, and really anything to help organize. (My secret, well not so secret, addiction.)

My comedian husband loves to tell me – and anyone who will listen –  the problem with my organizing and decluttering, is that nothing seems to STAY ORGANIZED or DECLUTTERED. He loves to say, “It’s not a SPACE issue, it’s a VOLUME issue. You just need to get rid of stuff.” When I ask him to go through the basement and get rid of some of his boxes of “stuff” from high school and college, well, hmmmm… he seems to have other things to do. So don’t tell me it’s a volume issue.

Okay, back to my story. So I decide to take the week off of work between Christmas and New Year’s to clean and organize our basement. I was so excited to do this. I told my friends. I told my co-workers. I even shared it with the cashier at Barnes & Noble that afternoon. How I was giving myself FIVE FULL DAYS at my leisure to organize our basement.

When we first bought our home, 12 years ago, the former owner bragged how his basement was the hit of the neighborhood back in the 60’s. There were many parties held in the orangey carpeted half-finished basement. Hard to believe if you saw it now. It is literally one large storage unit for our holiday bins, household items, suitcases, old toys, entertaining platters, things I might use “one day” and well, just STUFF. It’s the place I store the girls’ papers and artwork (which of course I can’t bear to throw out), and it had also become our “holding cell” for just about anything that we really didn’t know what to do with, along with a place to store stuff when company comes over. My hubby loves when I announce I’m cleaning up for guests, and literally dump random stuff into his arms, saying “hurry, bring this downstairs, they are coming!”

But I have a plan. FIVE WHOLE DAYS of organizing and decluttering. JOY! For two days straight, I wake up early, put on my work out clothes and attack the basement. (Hey, at least I put them on.) After day one, I become less emotional about everything – girls’ papers tossed, boxes of stuff from our first home tossed, and old toys donated. STUFF GONE! It was exhilarating and freeing.  I still had a way to go, but after two days of going up and down the stairs it was shaping up.

Day 3 and I decide to take a break from the basement, and tackle our bedroom closet, perhaps go through and discard some clothes, when I remember the LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP. I hadn’t read it yet. I poured myself a cup of coffee, grabbed a highlighter, sat on the couch and told my family to go away, I was reading about MAGIC.

This little tiny book would reveal HOW to do this! To say I was a little excited was an understatement. An hour later, and I realized I was doing it ALL WRONG. The first thing I learned is… “You can never tidy if you’ve never learned how.”

I ran to find my husband, and yelled. I WAS DOING IT ALL WRONG!

Ms. Kondo’s method of tidying up, the “KonMari Method” (named after the author) explains that you should not be organizing room by room, but rather category by category. It might take me longer in the beginning, but it was worth it she promised. Her secret? The magic? DISCARDING. Not tidying and organizing, yes they are important. But discarding is vital. With wonderful little tips and inspiring messages throughout the book, Ms. Kondo was my friend, sharing that “Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination.” That was my AH HA moment. I needed to get rid of 75% of the stuff in my house, not just in my basement, but in every single space in our home, we had too much stuff. (I cannot tell you how happy this made my husband to hear that he was well… right. It WAS A STUFF issue.)

She suggests starting with clothes, then moving on to books, then papers, then household items etc. So I began with my tops, and let me tell you… HER METHOD WORKS! Yes, it’s a bit weird and crazy, but IT WORKS.

*** SPOILER ALERT: You need to hold every single clothing item in your hand and ask yourself, “Does this bring me joy?” and if it doesn’t then you need to say “THANK YOU for being there for me when I needed you.” Needless to say when my hubby and girls walked in on me having a conversation with the tank top from my baby sister’s bachelorette weekend (really WHY was I saving this?) they raised a few eyebrows and giggles. But by hour two, they were used to it. At once point I overheard my hubby ask the girls to ask me if I wanted anything they were running to the store, and my little one’s response, “Can’t she is thanking her shirt for being there for her.”

After two days of going through my tops, bottoms and pajamas, and donating 75% of them, I can honestly say, I can see why this works. There is not a lot left to organize. Truly. It has to stay tidy. Ms. Kondo also suggests folding almost EVERYTHING. No more sweaters on hangers or pants. Needless to say my closet is truly clutter free. Well for now. But I’m on a mission, and moving onto my socks and underwear drawer this weekend, and am already excited to say goodbye to them…

4 comments on “Life-Changing Magic for One Mom”

  1. I read this book too and loved it. The one thing that bugged me was that I feel like she has no idea the level of American excess that I live with. I have so much stuff in each category that I am overwhelmed before I even start. It’s sad that I want to take vacation time to sort through my junk. And also thank it. LOL. Good for you for getting it started though!

    1. I know Kriste, I completely agree, some Americans do have a lot of STUFF. Trying to eliminate and keep only those we love is a good lesson to live by, and I’m hoping to take what she says and put some of it into practice, so it becomes my “norm”, and hopefully inspire my girls that less is truly more, and we are so fortunate to have what we need when so many do not. One day at a time….and yes, sad that vacation time is used for this! I did try to plan one fun thing a day so I wasn’t stuck decluttering all day! Good luck!!! 🙂

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