So after my freakout about suffocating under a pile of my own clutter, we have decided to take some really positive steps forward. I have now read the Marie Kondo book, and really, I think she is almost certainly a psychopath! Anybody who gets that much joy from their possessions probably has issues with real life. Also I personally find it a little hard to empathise with somebody who has an entire cupboard for shoes, but who recommends I get rid of almost all my books!
She starts by making you question why you want to tidy in the first place, to try to really expose your deep psychological motives. There are many reasons I am desperate to make a fundamental change to the amount of possessions I have. Firstly, and most importantly, I don’t want to be found dead under a pile of Lego (books maybe, but definitely not Lego!) I have also written before about feeling fragmented, distracted, confused, finding my mind racing with thousands of disjointed thoughts. I have plans that never happen, conversations unfinished, ideas half thought. Now this is almost certainly a combination of two small children who interrupt me at three millisecond intervals. A six year history of sleep deprivation won’t be helping either. However I think there are other factors at play also, and I’m sure that having a permanently chaotic living space cannot be helping me to achieve clarity of thought. Also I am unlikely to change the children anytime soon, whereas I might manage to declutter at least!
We have lived in a permanent state of disorder for so long now that it has absolutely become the norm. Our beloved kitchen table gets cleared approximately once a year for Christmas, the rest of the time we just move the piles around.
It it has definitely got to the point that every time I welcome a visitor into my home the very first thing I do is apologise for the mess. I love having people come to stay, or pop over for tea and cake. It fulfills my need to socialise whilst in my safe place. I think I may have inherited hostess genes from my grandmother who is always ready with ten varieties of biscuits just in case anyone should call. I want to be able to welcome loved ones into my home without feeling ashamed of the state of it.
One of my favourite rooms in the house is the Reading Room. There have to be some advantages to the whole family sharing a bedroom, and theoretically one of those is the fact that I have a reading room. Floor to ceiling books line one long wall. I spent a beautiful week recently categorising and alphabetising my entire collection.
I come from a family of readers, as a child I have very strong memories of hours spent looking through my mother’s enormous collection, sitting on the floor and looking at all the spines. Reading is one of my greatest joys, and definitely one of the things that has been abandoned since having children. Even if I do get a short time to myself I find my attention span struggles to concentrate with anything more taxing than Facebook updates. I long to get back to reading. After I’d got all the books in order it seemed only moments before it got completely filled with stuff. Because unfortunately a room with as esoteric purpose as simply reading, ends up as the obvious place to dump all the stuff that there’s no other home for. I can envision it being a calm contemplative space for all the family to use, to show our children the joy and value in spending time reading. But first we need to be able to open the door!
We have made a positive start. We have packed up and shipped off around three hundred DVDs. Considering lots of those were box sets we’re probably talking over a thousand shiny discs that are no longer cluttering the house. We have sorted our clothes and the kids old clothes, and six binbags are going to charity. We have even folded all our remaining clothes in the ‘revolutionary’ Konmari format, and my underwear drawer has never looked so neat.
This does however bring me to one of my big issues with Konmari. I am only supposed to keep things that spark joy within me. Unfortunately for the majority of my clothing collection I’m not really looking at what sparks joy but what incites the least misery. I have retained three pairs of trousers, none of which I like, but I may be arrested if I ventured to leave the house half naked. It has left me with a profound desire to shop, to buy a whole new, joy sparking wardrobe, and whilst that sounds lovely I’m not sure my wallet would agree. I think I will treat myself to some new clothes, but I don’t think I can afford to be quite as radical as Konmari is expecting.
The fact is, that while I do have possessions which spark genuine joy (like the thousands of books she suggests I discard!) there are many things in our house which are purely functional. We have many inherited items, falling apart furniture that someone else was discarding, kitchen equipment that had done its job for relatives first. We have obviously been wasting too much of our income on books and DVDs to buy furniture ourselves! Half the problem is that I don’t really know what I want in the first place.
So, I still aim to massively reduce our belongings. I am supposed to tackle the books next, though I don’t think I’m quite ready for that yet… Think I will chicken and tackle the many boxes of CDs next, which should be easy considering we don’t even have a CD player. And I hope to spend some time deciding what things I actually want in my house, and gradually switch the functional hand-me-downs for things I genuinely love. And through the process I am hoping to find some clarity, some space and order, and maybe even a chance to read.