Don’t get me wrong: I love Marie Kondo. I sincerely appreciate her elfin charisma and spritely devotion to the healing powers of therapeutic folding. I applaud how she caresses inanimate household objects as though they have personalities. I would very much welcome her to swoop into my house and transform my three-bedroom abode into a color-coded, right-angled, space-age paean to obsessive organization.
That said: Implementing her techniques with two little boys is a thankless task. I tried to fold their sweatpants and waffle shirts in her tented, space-saving style. The next day, both of my kids had ransacked their drawers and pulverized their origami-like attire. I also tried to utter sweet nothings to my son’s tattered socks before pitching them into the trash, thanking them for their months of sweaty service. It got old after about an hour.
Enter Jamaica Plain’s Rhea Becker, who calls herself the Clutter Queen. No, she doesn’t have her own show on Netflix, but the Jewish organization guru did recently share her decluttering secrets with the BBC.
She offers easy-to-implement strategies on her website, which can be easily adapted for parents. If you’re overwhelmed by the KonMari method, read on:
Start small: No need to transform your entire house in one frantic afternoon. Focus on a small area, like your child’s sock drawer, to get momentum.
Set time limits: Aim to spend 15 minutes per day decluttering. Doable, right? She suggests setting a timer on your smart phone. I’m sure I can prune my son’s Pokemon shrine in five minutes, flat. Using a shredder, that is.
Focus on corners: If, like me, you walk into a child’s disastrous playroom and become paralyzed, try this: Choose a corner of the room, and move clockwise until it’s tidied.
Keep a box or large bag in a convenient place. Fill it with too-small shoes, over-the-hill toys and other castoffs of unknown origin. As soon as the box or bag is filled, take it to your local thrift shop or online yard sale.
Bedtime storage. Use the space under your bed (and your kids’ beds!) for storage. Out of sight means no capacity to make you break out in hives.
Apply the one-year rule. If your child hasn’t played with, used or worn an item in a year, ditch it. And if you have a toy that’s missing a part, but you swear you’ll find it someday? Be honest. You are truly never, ever going to locate Barbie’s missing head or a like-new Paw Patrol plastic fire engine ladder. If it’s broken, say goodbye.
Categorize. If closets fill you with dread, categorize. Tackle one area at a time, such as sports equipment or shoes.
Every day is trash day. Camp fliers, community education bulletins, artistic masterpieces fashioned out of glue-soaked construction paper…if it’s junk, don’t stack it in a corner, waiting to pore over it. Because, admit it: You won’t. Look at your stack each day, and ditch the stuff that doesn’t matter. If you don’t, it will turn into a mountain on your kitchen counter. Yes, it might feel like a chore in the moment, but the payoff is serenity.
Do you have any sneaky decluttering tips? Feel free to share!