Thursday, 5 March 2015

Tidying and decluttering for families - a review of Marie Kondo's 'The life-changing magic of tidying'

Last weekend I gave in, powered up the kindle and downloaded *that* book about tidying and read it in two or three sessions. 

It's an easy read, with lots of nice stories about clients/former clients, and some clear thoughts and advice about how to declutter and tidy your home (and life). I did gobble it up pretty quickly, indicating that I was quite eager to absorb all the life-tidying advice/principles on offer. 

It certainly made me think, and I have been tidying a lot since I finished reading it (but I haven't done it all, and I haven't done it in any particular order - I am a Konmari rebel). I realised that I already *knew* some of the things Kondo recommends. Like the thing about folding and storing things on edge, rather than in piles. I have got one drawer that stays tidy, where you can see the contents in one glance and, don't you know, the contents are folded Kondo style and lined up on their edges.

Anyway, I like some of her ideas, and I have been using them to good effect. Drawers are being reorganised, and clothes refolded in the Kondo way. It's nice to open a drawer and see everything that's inside - rather than see the tops of piles, or - more usually in my house - a random jumble of stuff.

An amazing thing happened when I organised the bean's drawers in the Kondo style. I put most of the clothes away, but hadn't quite finished folding and stashing his shorts. Later, he folded and put them away himself, which was good. But, when I opened the drawer I realised that he had spontaneously folded and placed them in the drawer in the same way as I had. 

Totally brilliant.

I hadn't asked him to do it that way. I hadn't explained how to do it, or shown him how I was folding his things. He just did it. 

So, it's good then? Well, yes, but no. Some of the advice just doesn't work for me. Do it all (declutter and tidy) in one 6 month period - okay. But never again? 


You don't have children do you Marie? 

Children grow and develop, and as part of that process families have to go through a regular cycle of acquiring new things and disposing of old ones. If you have children in a range of sizes/ages then it is patently absurd not to hand some items (clothes/books/toys) from one child to the next. Add to that the constant flow of paper and objects that come into the home with children, and the tidy 'once' rule soon breaks down. 

I am happy to throw things away - the broken toys, the beads dropped on the floor, the dog-eared card/certificate/picture that has been in the bottom of someone's bag for a fortnight. But I can't and don't police all of the trinkets and favourite sticks/stones/shells that my children collect. These are regularly cleaned up, but it can't be a one-time event, it has to be done over and over and over again. Not very Konmari.

For me, there is a lot missing from Marie Kondo's book about living with children, about coping with the daily onslaught of stuff that comes through the door, about making decisions about what to keep/chuck, when it's not actually your stuff, but your children's. Although I would love to declutter and tidy my home in a one-off event, I suspect that I will have to keep a permanent donate pile somewhere around the house, for the grown out of clothes, the grown out of books and toys, and the other stuff which no longer fills me/them/us with joy. 

Maybe I'm wrong, and once I've Kondo'd my own stuff, my children will also embrace the 'focus on joy - tidy once' philosophy? 

I also suspect that despite failing the joy test, I will continue to keep paint-spattered and old clothes for activities that involve spattering paint and digging the garden. Practicality and pragmatism doesn't feature in Kondo's worldview, and her advice doesn't really help much when you need to sort out the garden shed.

I like Marie Kondo's ideas a lot, but can see that they work best for households with grown ups. Maybe her next book will be about tidying for/with kids (or maybe I should write that one?!) 

Monday, 2 March 2015

Stash and burn (FO): the story of a made-up blanket

Hey peeps. 

I'm not on a stash diet this year, I'm blitzing, I'm busting, I'm hoovering up that stash. It will be conquered. After this, everything will be different. 


[Has Marie Kondo written a book about dealing with a stash yet?]

Anyways. I had a bit of a rummage in the yarn stash a couple of weeks ago, just before our bedroom was deconstructed. I pulled out some baby blue/green yarns that I cant find a project for, and got my crochet hook out.  

This is what I ended up with. 

The colours are a bit off here, the olive colour isn't quite so olive in real life - it's just pale green. But the other colours are fairly true (I will resist the temptation to tell you that it's really blue and black).

Not bad huh? It's fairly square, and should work as a baby blanket to keep someone small warm. It consumed a reasonable amount of yarn, with enough left for another blanket too. I dropped it off at the Pregnancy and Parents Centre, so they can sell it to raise money. 

I've no idea what any of the yarns are - but they are all highly synthetic and came from charity shops at one time or another. Two of the yarns are textured, so it's quite forgiving in terms of mistakes, but also slightly harder to work with because the stitch definition is, well, not very defined.  I didn't follow a pattern, I just started with a chain that was about the right length, and just took it from there. Also, don't ask what stitch I used, I have no idea!

Seeing as there was a goodly amount of yarn left over, I almost immediately cast on (do you cast on in crochet?) for another blanket. The stripes will be a bit different, because I used up most of the smooth yarns in the last one. 

In other news, I have been watching the great british sewing bee, and fantasising about having 4 hours, or 6 hours, or even 90 minutes to sew something without having to look after children or make meals or rush out to pick someone up from a party/play date/school. I don't think I've touched my sewing machine since Christmas *sigh*. I am really looking forward to the end of (my) term, and the Easter holidays, and maybe having a wee bit more time to do something apart from work. Grrrr.

Sorry. Did that last bit come out out loud? It's been a bit of a rollercoaster recently, mostly plunging towards an abyss, and hoping that at some point things might get slightly less bad. 

Still, there is always crochet. 

And knitting.

And chocolate.

And urchins like this

to keep me going.