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Post-Christmas Clean-Up and New Year’s Organization

We closed out the Christmas season for 2020 with one final movie: Last Christmas starring Emilia Clarke (best known for her role as Danaerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones, a.k.a. Mother of Dragons, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and namesake to our family dog, Khaleesi). The storyline was inspired by the lyrics to “Last Christmas” by George Michael. In fact, the entire soundtrack was George Michael. The children were sleeping soundly upstairs and I curled up with my husband on the couch for our holiday-inspired romantic dramedy. I love a good chick flick and this one hit the spot.

Today is the day after Christmas and now that it’s all over, I want to clean, store, and organize. I want to start the New Year with my house in order. Putting away Christmas decor is step one, and it’s fairly easy. If you skip the lights and keep the decor to fairly simple elements, tear down is much more efficient. The ornaments will go back into the bin, the small plastic tree will be broken down and stored in its box, and any additional decor will get stowed away with the rest of the Christmas gear.

It’s not just putting away Christmas stuff or routine cleaning like dusting or vacuuming that’s on my mind. It’s a deep organization. It’s the purge. It’s the desire to rid our home of things that have outlived their usefulness and takes up space.

I have a semi-annual organization ritual that usually takes place during Winter Break (when I was a teacher) and during the summer. Now that I’m a SAHM, everyday kind of rolls into one another, but I still want to maintain this semi-annual routine. In essence, I go through our stuff (in past years, it’s been limited to my wardrobe and a few other areas, but this year, it’ll be the whole house) and ask myself: keep, donate, or toss? Our basement is still full of unpacked boxes and our living areas do not have the room for things to be added without the purge process. One of my big new year’s resolutions for 2021 is to completely unpack, find a home for everything that we want to keep, and to discard what we no longer need or want.

For inspiration, I read two books on the subject of home organization: The Magical Art of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and The Home Edit by Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin. I’ve read Marie Kondo’s book several years ago when it first came out, used the KonMari approach, but was not consistent in maintenance. I reread it. This was the first time I read The Home Edit (THE). Both books have the same goal, home organization, but both books have a drastically different approach.

The essence of the KonMari method is determining whether the objects in your home and your life “spark joy.” Does this sweater, book, pillow, small kitchen appliance, or whatever bring you joy? If it does not, does it serve a necessary purpose? For instance, I wouldn’t say that cleaning products or laundry baskets spark joy for me, but they serve necessary functions in the home, so they stay. If an object does not spark joy or serve a purpose, then it ought to be discarded. Determining whether it should be donated or thrown away depends on its condition. A broken iron, for instance, should be thrown away, not donated. What can make this process difficult is either an emotional attachment to objects that have outlived their usefulness or a sense of guilt because they were gifted to you at some point. Concerning gifts, my rule is I keep gifts for a year. If I find I have not used it in an entire year, then I don’t feel guilty about getting rid of it.

KonMari organizes by category because oftentimes, you have duplicates of objects in multiple rooms. For instance, I believe every room in my home has a junk drawer that needs to be cleaned out with a large assortment of pens that probably dried out. Take everything out for that category (for instance, clothing) from everywhere in the home (closet, drawers, laundry room, coat closet, basement, wherever), then one-by-one, ask yourself whether it sparks joy or serves a purpose. If it does neither, toss in a discard pile. With the items that remain, the KonMari method offers strategies for storage, like folding shirts to stand vertically in drawers and the use of multi-sized boxes as drawer separators. A key point, KonMari suggests repurposing random boxes that you already have and does not suggest buying storage materials unless they’re truly necessary.

On the other hand, THE system does not devote as much time and energy to discarding, and it does not encourage people to thank their objects for their service before discarding them. This system focuses more on finding a home for your existing items. It also strongly recommends two specific strategies: 1. The use of clear plastic bins or decorative storage boxes, and 2. Sorting objects by color using the rainbow order (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). It also suggests starting small. Unlike the KonMari method that proposed large projects to be completed in fairly quick succession, THE proposes ordering organization by space, from as large as a room to as small as a drawer, but starting small, like drawer space.

I think there are positives and negatives to both approaches. I think they both have a lot to offer, but I think what works best for my home is a hybrid approach.

Personally, I am not going to buy hundreds of dollars worth of assorted sized plastic bins, even if it does make the space look prettier. I do not care about aesthetics as much as I do cost-effective functionality. In this manner, I think the KonMari method wins because it focuses more on minimalism and mindfulness in evaluating objects. As a personal rule, I do not like clutter. I’m also not a shopper and consider shopping to be an unenjoyable chore that needs to be done from time to time in as quickly and efficiently a manner as possible. I shop like a man, going in with a specific item in mind, and leaving as quickly as possible once said item has been retrieved. However, what I do like the most about THE is how to organize with what’s left. Namely, I very much like the aesthetics of sorting by color, especially bookshelves.

My organizational goal, to be completed by end of January 2021, is to finish organizing my home completely, unpack every single box, find a logical place for every object, and donate or throw out unnecessary items. Today, I get started with George Michael on my playlist.


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