The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up Review

I don’t think you can surf blogs about simplifying and decluttering without coming across mention of the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organzing  (affiliate link) by Marie Kondo, at least once, but probably multiple times. This book is hot right now. I believe it was number 1 in the non-fiction books this week.

I finally read it. I actually purchased the e-book, which I rarely do. But I was really interested in what Kondo had to say and why so many people are raving about it. I am in the middle of decluttering my house, so it seemed appropriate to read it now.

It was an interesting read and I read it fairly quickly.

What I enjoyed:

The deciding factor of deciding whether to keep or throw away – You don’t calculate when the last time you used it, or how many you have; simply, “does it bring you joy?”

The order in which she suggests you “tidy” (I prefer “declutter”) – Clothes first, then books, papers and komono (miscellaneous), and then sentimental items and photos.

A place for everything: I think this is a great idea. Everything you own has the correct place. And you put it back in it’s spot every. Single. Time. Kondo even says to empty out your purse every day. Crazy? Maybe. But I know my purse wouldn’t be full of random receipts and gum wrappers or a month old crumpled candy if I followed her advice.

Her folding method – Don’t stack them on top of each other, fold them into lovely bundles and stand them up! The “konmarie” folding method worked amazing for my husband’s shirt drawer. Mine, not so much, as my drawer isn’t that full, so camisoles and other small items don’t stand up as well (all I need are some organizers). But my husband’s drawer looks amazing. More shirts fit in the drawer and everything can be seen. My toddler’s drawer looks awesome as well – his drawer is shirts and shorts. I need to put some boxes in mine to help the process. My underwear drawer (that sounds sexy, doesn’t it?) looks pretty great, though. I should take a picture of my husband’s drawers, but here is my infant daughter’s clothes:

I sorted my daughter's drawer by type of clothing - pants, shirts, onesies, etc.

I sorted my daughter’s drawer by type of clothing – pants, shirts, onesies, etc.

 

The extra motivation: Reading the book helped me up my declutter game and get rid of things that really does not make me happy to have and to take a harder look at things I may think to keep.

 

What I was skeptical of/not my favorite:

Bath items: Removing shampoo/conditioner/body wash/face wash/etc. and drying them after every bathing event seems like too much work. I get where she is coming from – without all those bottles or bars in the shower, it is cleaner and it is easier to clean your shower. I hate that nasty film that grows on unused bottles on a shelf… which is why you should toss that bottle that isn’t being used. And just say no to most shower caddys (that I do agree with Kondo). But, removing and drying everything after you bath will not save you time in the long run – it takes me 3 seconds to remove the shower stuff and clean. It would obviously take much more than that to remove, dry, gather, and put back every time.

Washed dishes: Kondo says that she washes her dishes, she sets them out on her balcony for the sun to dry and sanitize them. That sounds lovely, but not really an option over here. I’m not going to pile up all the dishes we use and wash throughout the day and sit them outside. I don’t think I would have the room (maybe the patio table could house them) and they would be covered in dirt before they were dried. I could get behind never using a dish rest, though. I hate that thing.

Using the book and methods for families: I think with families, you really have to pick and choose and make it work for your unique situation. A lot of what she talks about can easily be done with singles (in fact, the majority of her examples are young women still living at home). You want to Konmarie your bedroom? Sure. Konmarie your office? That works. Konmarie your three year olds bedroom and the family kitchen (not that I know anyone with multiple kitchens)? Eh… I don’t know. Kondo does give an example of having a three year old client, but I’m skeptical. The ton of toys your child has may all bring him joy, but not for you, so you would have to take a step back and only “Konmarie” your specific areas.

The lack of talk about “useful” items: Maybe I missed a chapter or section about tools and other useful, every day items while I was trying to nurse my infant and keep my toddler from getting the Costco-sized pickle jar out of the fridge. Or maybe I am too cheap to totally throw out all my kitchenware and buy only items that “give me joy.”

What you declutter is trash: Kondo doesn’t say your items are trash as soon as you  decide to get rid of them, but she talks about clients getting rid of “x number of bags of trash” and how many things a client “threw away.” Again, maybe I missed something, but I felt like everything she had clients get rid of, went straight to the garbage. I hope that they at least were donated and the book’s wording just got lost in translation.

Your stuff has feelings too: I’m exaggerating a little bit, but I am not sure I can get behind Kondo’s notions of talking to your items and thanking it for their a job well done.

Overall, I think I enjoyed the book. But I don’t think it was life changing or 5-star worthy. I actually felt a little sad for Marie Kondo. Her book is fairly upbeat, but when she talks about her childhood and her dreams and aspirations, I feel a little bad for her and think that maybe she might have had some mental issues growing up. She became obsessed with tidying at 5 years old – after the birth of her sibling and her need to get attention from her parents and to make them happy. I hope she is happy now and loves her career helping others tidy up.

 

 

 

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Trying not to apologize

cleaning-clip-art-a687634f87d355499999480e94fb805dI volunteered to host a first-time meet-up of several ladies (and their kids) for a new book club. We “met” over a local Facebook group. We were interested in starting a book club, so we coordinated our first meeting – at my house. At my house, tomorrow (don’t worry, it wasn’t last minute).

Today I spent several hours and four magic erasers trying to clean the grout in my old tile floor. My toddler has decided to move all of his toys from his room to the living room, but other than that, my house is pretty clean. Just don’t look at my blinds.

I don’t know much about these 5 women. I know they are mothers and live around here, but that is about it. And I know, that as they walk in the door, pulling or carrying their little ones in with them, I will have the strong urge to apologize.

I will feel the need to apologize that my house isn’t big enough. Or clean enough. Or new enough. Or that my carpet is lame, or that I don’t have the most comfortable couch. Or perhaps, I will want to apologize that we don’t have a separate playroom for the little ones.

But I will not apologize. It may be hard for me to keep my mouth shout and not utter “I’m sorry,” but I will succeed. I won’t even apologize for the blob of wall paint my brother got on the ceiling that we still haven’t fixed.

Why should I feel self-conscious that my home isn’t a new house, in pristine-condition, full of expensive things? I shouldn’t!

I really don’t need to apologize for not having the best house. I don’t need to apologize that my house isn’t sparkling white. I’m not perfect, my house isn’t perfect, but it’s our home.

My home is full of love, laughter, and fun (well, most of the time). My home is full of good memories and in the three short years we have lived here, we have done much to make it our own.

So I won’t apologize that my home isn’t straight out of a magazine. I won’t cheapen our home or feel ashamed. I won’t show you or my children that we need more to be happy, because we don’t.

And if you open your home for us to socialize and share and connect, don’t apologize to me, either.

What I am packing in my hospital bag

With my second child due in a couple of months, I decided to review all the fun labor and delivery info available out there – most recently Pinterest. There are lots of different posts about “what to pack” and some of them seem a bit much, to me. People and hospitals are different, so to each her own, but this is what worked for us last time, and what I will be packing this time. I would take a tour of your labor and delivery unit and ask questions. Sometimes you have a shared room, sometimes they are small, sometimes you have a shower or a bath, sometimes you don’t. Also, sometimes your recovery room doesn’t have a lot of extra room and some hospitals don’t allow husbands to stay the night. We stayed at our hospital one night – other hospitals require two. If you have a c-section, you will probably stay 3 days. All these factors may effect your packing list.

packing list

 
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Decluttering Christmas presents – Kids edition

I have a few stocking stuff posts (like 50 Stocking stuffers for women,  and 100+ Stocking stuffer and small gift ideas for men, and Non-candy Easter basket and stocking stuffer ideas for children) that get a bit of traffic. If you’ve read them, you know that I am a huge fan of Christmas stockings full of goodies (and present-giving in general). This year, I really want to focus on fun, family, and the meaning of Christmas, rather than all the focus be on PRESENTS! This is becoming more important as my first born gets older (he will be 2.5 years old during Christmas) and with another one on the way. Also, if you have kids, you know how quick they accumulate stuff. I don’t even know how this happens, but it seems like magically, overnight, toys have multiplied. We rarely even buy toys, encourage family to gift other things, and yet still, there is a house full of toys!

I am taking a step back from filling stockings with toys and trinkets and little things that will get lost inside the couch or thrown away in a month. Well, there may still be things that get lost inside the couch, but the point is, I am trying to avoid the junk and clutter.

Have you noticed that some of the greatest toys your little ones have played with are actually not “toys?” Stacks of cups, a cardboard box, a pen and a back of an envelope, a table cloth fort, small pumpkins from the local pumpkin patch (I kid you not, my toddler is in love with his little pumpkins) – all of these things, and more, have entertained your child and didn’t come wrapped in plastic, secured with zip ties, and then sealed in a box. They allowed the children to use their imagination. That’s why this year I am focusing my gift-giving for my child on things that will allow him to play in different ways and offer creative freedom. I am also focusing my stocking stuffers on “needs.”

It may be early to start planning Christmas gifts (and I may have gotten my cousin’s kids’ gifts already, at Target, for 70% off during their toy clearance), but my little girl is set to make her arrival in January and I just love making lists, planning a budget, and all that fun stuff. So here are a few tips I am following to decrease the amount of “stuff” we don’t need (but still have fun giving gifts), and a what I am giving my son for Christmas.

decluttering christmas

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Books kids love

I currently work at a school library that serves 1st thru 6th graders. I am in charge of making sure the children know how to use the library, check-in and check-out books, and pretty much anything else book related. I enjoy it, and believe it or not, it is actually fairly fast-paced. Also, I get a first-hand look at what books kids love! I read to the first and second graders and receive their input about the books, and I see what the 3rd-6th graders are checking out and requesting.

So what’s on the list?

favorite books for todays kids

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Creative and unique gifts for children

I am super excited to share this post with you today! I have come across some AWESOME gifts for the littles (and made sure to become an affiliate! You can read more about my affiliates HERE.)

It seems like kids these days have way too much toys! I hardly ever buy my toddler toys and I have already had to box some of them up and put them away. But what do you get kids for Christmas and their birthdays? Most kids don’t care for clothing (and they might need more clothes, either), and toys are fun, but really, how often do they really get played with?  I’m all for quality-made, imagination-inducing toys, but sometimes an experience is better.

creativegiftsforchildren

So what to gift the kids? Here are some ideas!

Little Passports is a monthly subscription where the child gets a virtual trip to a world or USA destination  – the package is filled with activities, souvenirs, fun facts, and more. They even run deals sometimes where you can gift free kits to a teacher with a minimum order.

Get Kiwi Crate's Thanksgiving Turkeys Crate! shop now ››

Kiwi Crate is another subscription based gift (but you do not need to subscribe for more than a month, if you do not want to). Choose from a large variety of crafts, or just browse their DIY tutorial section! There are so many cool craft crates to choose from, I don’t know which one is my favorite. My Godchild would love getting one of these in the mail and as a parent, I love this type of gift. PLUS they have an awesome rewards/referral program.

Green Kid Crafts is another crafty gift box subscription, but is more focused on being “green.” They have science, nature, and discovery themed kits, and even kits for birthday parties. They even have mini kits ($5.95!) for stocking stuffers!

 

Get Free Shipping on all orders at I See Me with coupon code Santa - hurry, offer ends November 14th!

I See Me has a HUGE selection of books (coloring and activity books, too) to customize, from name to picture. They even have special gifts for babies. When I was little, I LOVED the book I had with my name in the story.

 

Braided Bracelet by Darby Smart
Darby Smart is a craft gift box, too, but has all sorts of trendy projects to choose from for the older child, teen, or adult. There really is a HUGE selection of projects, from jewelry to block printing.
Refer A Friend
Abe’s Market, one of my favorite retailers, has a large selection of eco-friendly children’s toys and craft supplies that you will definitely not find in stores. I’m a fan of the bath puzzles (and only $10.99).

Where are some of your favorite places to shop for kids?

Labor Day deals

Lots of sales going on this weekend, especially from our Affiliates. Why Affiliates? I have hand-picked several companies that I enjoy and shop at to promote, and in turn, if you purchase something because of the link I shared, they share a small amount (usually about 2-5%) of that amount with me. It helps keep this blog up and running. My first priority is not to blog about Affiliates every day, but here and there when appropriate. So if you were planning on purchasing something from one of these businesses, then I appreciate you going there because of a link I shared 😉

 
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What I learned during my travels with a toddler

Olá! I recently got back from a trip to the Azores with my husband and his family. Three weeks of vacation on a beautiful, lush island. Sounds great, right? It pretty much was, but there was one downside; the getting there with a very active toddler. We live on the West coast and the Portuguese islands are in the middle of the Atlantic. It’s usually an 11 hour direct flight, but add in airport waits and a layover, and by the time you leave the house and get picked up at your destination, it’s already been 20 hours. And you have a toddler.

I had never done much traveling with Gabriel (our little) prior to this vacation, except for a weekend at a beach house 2 hours away, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. All I knew was that I was taking a child who didn’t much care for the carseat, hated sitting still, and only took 45-90 min naps, on an experimental adventure.

The trek? Two hour drive to the airport (3 hours before he usually wakes up), two and half hours in the airport before we board, a 5.5 hour flight to Boston, a 4.5 hour layover, followed by a 4.5 hour flight to our destination.

So how was it? Actually, not horrible! I was surprised about how smooth it actually went.

So what did I learn?

toddler traveling

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Life happens!

I can’t believe it is already June! Time sure does fly by.

I have been taking a little bit of a break from blogging to spend time with my family and work on projects around the house. After Gabriel goes down for bed, I hang out and decompress with my husband and I haven’t been worrying about blogging! I’m slowly improving the front yard; I’ve planted lots of new plants and flowers and the rock is almost completely gone. I have a raised bed (came attached to the house) that I am growing tomatoes, green beans, peppers, carrots, and cilantro in. I am also attempting to grow squash, pumpkins, and watermelon out of containers because or soil is currently crap; so far so good!

The days have been warm and full of birthday parties and graduations and bridal showers… and yard work. We were even able to pull up the concrete a couple weeks ago and planted an apricot tree. Soon we will have a cherry tree and grass!

In April, I had instituted a “real food challenge” upon myself and I decided to ease up and just live life and not be so strict and crazy about things. I still believe that eating clean and whole foods is important, but I was getting a little neurotic about my diet and it wasn’t healthy.

Our little guy also just turned one and is becoming a pro at walking. It’s never dull with a toddler running about.

My to-do list is ever growing, I might have gained a couple pounds back, my little boy is getting bigger and crazier, my house isn’t always the cleanest, but life is good and my heart is full.

Whole Food Challenge update

How is everyone’s eating going? This week I got a stomach bug, then our refrigerator went out (they don’t make things like they use to, if you buy new, buy the extended warranty!), so I had some set backs. I’m back in the game, though, and will post more recipes and meal plans soon.

I have a couple toddler muffin recipes coming soon, too.