Tidying Up and Some Tips from Kathleen

Most people desperately need to put their house in order. Unfortunately, the majority of them fail to embrace this as a “special event” and instead make do with rooms that are more like storage sheds. – Marie Kondo

Is your house like a giant storage shed?

Do you have clutter everywhere that is driving you crazy?

Do you stuff things in closets that you don’t want to deal with?

Do you wish you felt more peace in your home?

It is difficult concept to grasp that you are the boss and the employee of your home. We here at The Whole House get it. In fact we did a whole podcast on the subject. (You can find it here). We often think that some invisible “they” is in charge and we must do what “they” say. Another myth is the items we own are in charge of us. We move them. Stack them. Shove them in closets. All the while we desire some space to breathe or a peaceful place to relax. How do we get there? I don’t have all the answers, but here are some tips from someone who likes an uncluttered environment.

  1. The object is not the memory. Get rid of the object. Keep the memory. We often hang on to items because we want to remember the event. One of my girls loved to share candy wrappers, tickets, receipts (basically trash) in bulk in shoeboxes. They took over her closet. She could explain where each bit of paper came from. It took many years for her to understand that a scrap of paper is not a memory. On my live on Facebook last week, I shared how I helped my sister clean out a corner cabinet in her kitchen before a move. She had well over fifty plastic cups from various sporting events her family attended stuffed way back where no one could get to them. But, she could tell me which event they each came from. I’m not here to tell you to change your personality. Just change your perspective. If things like cups and tickets are valuable to you. If they “spark joy” for you , then find a way to display or store them. Use a scrapbook for tickets. Just ask yourself, “Is this item bringing value to me? To my home? To my family?”
  2. A gift is not a blessing if it is frustrating you by taking up space. This is a tough one. We all get those gifts that we aren’t sure what to do with. What if Aunt Mabelle comes over and the giant ceramic iguana she gifted you is not displayed? Will she be offended? If the item is taking up space, you don’t like it and looking at it frustrates you, give it away. Bless someone else with it or return it and get something you do like. Your home is your space. It should feel peaceful to you. If your closets and shelves are stuffed with “gifts that don’t bless you”, take control and do something about it.
  3. Have a specific space for everything. Store things where they make the most sense. Don’t keep paper clips in the laundry room because you have a cute basket.
  4. If you get it out, put it away. This is such a simple concept and yet we procrastinate. I am probably more adamant about this practice than most. Raising seven children, things got cluttered pretty quickly. I gave my kids daily room assignments. In each room, I posted an index card with the instructions for tidying the room.The instructions were detailed and simple: put all couch cushions away, pick up toys (whether they are yours or not), fold blankets, etc… This eliminates so much work and avoids confusion about expectations.  
  5. Purging is not a one and done deal. Although I love Marie Kondo’s idea of doing it all at once, you will have to do again until your habit changes (mine is still in process). This is because we aren’t just consumers. We are collectors.

People cannot change their habits without changing their way of thinking. -Marie Kondo

We are not just consumers..png

 Step number one of Marie’s method with my two-cents thrown in:

  1. Clothing

Place all clothes in a pile. I do this on my bed. When sorting Marie says to hold an item and notice whether it “sparks joy.” If you are putting it in your go pile, thank it. If you need a Christian perspective on this – thank God for the item and pray it will bless someone else. I do hang my clothes a little differently than Marie suggests. I hang mine by color instead of grouping them by like items such as blazers, blouses.

Another practice I finish my sorting with is creating outfits with what I have. I call this shopping in my own closet.

Put together outfits.png

We women are famous for saying, “I have nothing to wear” when we have a closet full of clothes (raising my hand here). Take some time to sort and then put together some outfits. It will make you feel as if you went shopping!

Here’s a tip from Marie on folding:


When I don’t feel like wearing real clothes- Totally Broke Tuesday

Several years ago, daughter Ania and I noticed we were getting into a slump, a not wearing real clothes slump. We traipsed around in sweats and yoga pants. When we decided, after our annual shopping trip get dressed in real clothes every day, we got questions like:

“Where are you going today?”

“Why are you so dressed up?”

All confirmation that we had hit a slump.  This school year, I started sliding back down the slippery slope to yoga-pants-land. The weather is cool in the morning and I walk before school. I found myself coming home and throwing on a sweatshirt instead of suiting up for the day. I went to two appointments wearing my “fake” clothes and I don’t like the way it made me feel. I felt like I dropped the ball.

I was thinking about my fake clothes slump during our annual shopping trip to the outlets on Saturday and reminded myself of a habit I need to reinstate- shopping in my own closet! I do this before the shopping trip, making a list of what I need, not what I want, which is all new. Just new. Did I say new? And…. I don’t always need new. I just want it.

At the change of each season, I shop in my closet and put as many outfits together as I can. At the beginning of each week (Sunday afternoon), I choose my outfits for the week and hang each one on a hanger, complete with jewelry. I use my mannequin.. I’m certainly not saying you have to be obsessive about it as I do, but I do think there are many benefits of shopping your own closet and getting dressed in real clothes every day.

outfit 1
Long sleeve shirt from Eddie Bauer ($10) from Saturday’s shopping trip., everything else from my closet. Those boots, Christmas three years ago. Still love them! I love having a comfortable outfit for running errands in!

If you are like me, you have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear, at least that is what I can fall prey to thinking. This morning, for example, I pulled a pair of jeans out of the closet that I forgot I owned! I didn’t have to go out and buy them!

outfit 3
Nothing new here. Sweater from Goodwill (last year). Everything else has been living in my closet.

Reasons to Get Dressed in Real Clothes

When I get dressed, I feel better, more professional. I get more accomplished when I am wearing real clothes. I can go out the door at a moments notice without panicking about what I have on. The children are watching what I do. If I get in a habit of staying in my pjs all day, they will follow suit. When the UPS man comes to the door, I don’t have to hide because I don’t want him to see my snowflake pj pants or my black yoga pants with paint on the leg (true story).

Outfit 2
Nothing new here. Sweater from Audrey’s closet. The flower is from Audrey’s wedding (six years ago) and I still love it. Everything else has been hiding in my closet. Love that I can take the sweater off to rock those short sleeves when I am doing dishes, etc… Throw it back on and I am dressed up!

I don’t have anything deep or theological to share. It is a pretty simple message, we keepers of the home, homeschooling or otherwise, should treat our homes like a business. We should  be good stewards of our time and finances. I can easily fall into the trap of slothfulness when it comes to either of these. I, like Eve in the garden, can believe that I don’t have enough ________. I need more clothes, more me time (that’s another post altogether) instead of looking at what I do have with an attitude of thankfulness. Give us today our daily bread is part of our daily prayer. The manna provided for today is enough. The closet full of clothes is enough. The outfit I am wearing is the manna I am wearing for today. If I need more tomorrow, it will be there. God supplies all of my needs according to His riches in glory. When I get dressed for the day in ‘real’ clothes, I honor Him and the good gifts He has given.