I mentioned starting the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up?
I told you I'd let you know when the magic happened?
Back to school is my get-it-back-together season. The new year is all about resolutions, I don't do a big spring clean, but if it's September, you can bet I'm looking to get all my ducks in a row. I kept hearing about the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up : The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing and that it's - well, life-changing, so I started reading it on the way home from vacation, knowing I had three weeks to get everything in order before we start school again and that I needed some serious inspiration.
Serious inspiration indeed. I haven't even finished reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and it's propelled massive action : two teenager's rooms tidied up in two and a half days and all ready for a new school year ... it IS magic! I can't give you a full book report since I haven't completed reading it, but I'm here to tell you that the basic premise of decluttering first and then tidying up absolutely w o r k s. You release the junk first, pulling everything out and using the "does this bring me joy" technique for shedding stuff. This rather forces you to finish the project in one grand effort. Yes - ALL AT ONCE. In its purest form, the KonMari method would have you sorting through all your belongings at once, not just one room at a time, but I had to be realistic about what areas were priority and what we would be able to accomplish with the time available. What I can tell you is that ridding a room of its junk from floor to ceiling and then tidying it up gives you space to put it all back together in its best form.
We made some effort toward updating these two rooms several months ago, but we lost steam and the clutter exploded, precisely because we tried to decorate and make it pretty before decluttering. Unfortunately, the Golden Rule prohibits me from showing before pictures, but trust me when I say the results of our decluttering and tidying up work are dramatic. After I promised myself I would not question any decisions my kids made to throw out or give away, we started with Abbie's room and she was ruthless about letting things go; I was so proud of her. We got her room done in about four hours - not because there wasn't much stuff, but because she was decisive and fast (and I kept my promise). When we started, the floor of her closet was completely covered with stuff, and the hanging rod was packed with clothes going all the way back to when we shopped at Justice - it was definitely time to clear out :o)
Aaron and I tackled his room the next day. Since he's the youngest of four kids, his room was a little more challenging. He was the last one to play with all the toys, and they migrated to his room over time. All of them. The Fisher Price Castle, the Legos, blocks custom made by Granddaddy, Woody from Toy Story - they were all crammed into his closet along with 50 years of National Geographic Magazine (not kidding). It's a testament to Aaron's great patience that he never complained about having outgrown his room. All in all, it took about six hours to finish the magic, and that spread over the course of two days (because you do not interfere with Bunco night).
After pulling out six (yes - SIX) giant trash bags of things to take to Good Will, and two giant trash bags of things to throw away, we have two rooms filled with things that only bring joy and they feel absolutely spacious. We have curtains and a few decor items on the way, but I keep wandering in there to admire the decluttered tidy - it makes me so happy! Not to mention it's completely within reason to expect that these rooms could be cleaned in five minutes or less. My challenge to the kids is to never let their eyes see their "new" rooms messy, and they're up for it; they like the tidy, too.
As for me, I'm looking forward to the next decluttering project, and I'm pretty sure finishing The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up will help me conquer some significant clutter. I keep things. For sentimental reasons, I keep things I will never use. For sentimental reasons, I keep things I don't even like. For sentimental reasons, I keep things other people give me just because they can't throw things away. But from here on out, I'll declutter before I try to clean up, and the keep it or not test is joy. This is no illusion here, there's no junk lurking under the bed or in the closet - this is REAL decluttered and tidy magic.