Hello! If you don’t follow me on the facebooks (/jen.watkiss) or twitter (@jen_watkiss) you may not know that Team Watkii expands to a foursome in August. I know, we’re pretty stoked.
But this means we need to make room in for a whole extra person in our current existence. And we have amassed a lot of crap in the current formulation of our family. Some (lots!) of it must go!
We also need to combine the bigger master bedroom into a guest room/office/dog room, and move ourselves into the smaller double bedroom (which has until now been a guest/laundry-drying/dog room), so we can turn the current office into a nursery. Compounding the awkwardness is that we live in a Victorian Terrace style house, so there are lots of narrow hallways, doorways, and small rooms. Every time we move something, it generally means a cascade of moving a bunch of other things in some perverse game of furniture Tetris, involving a lot of cursing and stairs.
A happy coincidence of timing meant that, just in time for the nesting instinct to arrive in full-force, I discovered Marie Kondo’s “Life changing Magic of Tidying.” A few pages in, I was ready to write the entire book off as a load of total crap. Thanking my belongings? Dumping everything out and touching every. single. item. in order to evaluate? Not bloody likely, unless I’m going to take four days off to deal with the clutter.
So I was pretty sceptical when I read her instruction to get rid of anything that “doesn’t bring you Joy.” What the hell? Joy? I am hardly joyful about my toilet brush. But it’s still a thing we need in the house.
If you really think about the concept of having only things that bring you Joy, though, the method holds. And has been the most useful formula I’ve found for deciding what to keep and what to toss.
Because Joy is not just about out-of-the ordinary happiness. Joy can come from basic purpose and satisfaction. Having a toilet brush brings me joy, because I’m able to clean the toilet, and a clean toilet makes me feel good about my home.
It becomes even more powerful when you flip the equation, and look at things that are still useful, but maybe don’t bring Joy. It also combats the famous William Morris quote, instructing one to “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
For example, we have a shedload of tiny tchochkes that Isaac has collected from outings and in birthday party bags. Having a few of these things around brings me Joy, because they’re useful for dropping into a day pack when we’re out for a day and could use some novelties to keep a small person occupied at restaurants or on long car rides.
However, those tiny tchochkes cease being useful when we’ve got a box amassing hundreds of the stupid little things. Then they cross into ‘oppressive’ territory, when I can’t imagine when we’ll ever use them all up, and I need to figure out where to keep them in the meantime. KonMari’s theory of “Joy” makes it a lot easier to keep a small selection of small toys, etc. and guiltlessly toss the rest.
Same goes for books I’ve meant to read, clothes I’ve meant to wear more, furniture that no longer suits its purpose. All these things to which my first reaction is negative (guilt, annoyance, frustration), instead of positive (or joyful) – even though they may be useful – can go.
So am I a KonMari convert? Maybe? I’m not entirely sure. I’m still not talking to my possessions. And I’m not making massive piles in the middles of rooms to start the process (who actually has time for that?). But we’ve taken 5 bags to the charity shop so far, with no signs of slowing. And it actually feels pretty good.