Tidying Up, Sparking Joy and ‘Kondo-izing’ Life in 2019

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Tara Schoeller

Spring is coming! It’s time for Spring Cleaning and with that tidying up your home and life. Thanks to Marie Kondo’s Netflix show, I’m obsessed with finding my floors and taking back my home, that’s been dominated by an army of children and many pets over the years! This is not an easy task, to say the least. Not only did Marie’s show motivate our family to really look at the amount of excess we consume in our typical American family, but to actually purge and begin placing greater value on the things that “spark joy” in our lives. Do we really need 55 stuffed animals? Do we really need 150 books? Do we really need so many pairs of shoes? Do we really need 12 coffee mugs? Do we really need to keep this or that, just in case? Do we really need to keep every piece of artwork? Do we really need to keep everything that we think sparks joy? Do were really need so much? The answer is NO.

I’m pretty sure if petite and sweet Marie Kondo were to visit our home a month ago unannounced, she would gasp trying to figure out which part of our home to begin organizing first. It’s not to say we are dirty by any means in our large family of seven. We do our best to keep up on larger than life meals, dishes & laundry, and de-cluttering piles that accumulate while raising our family. We do our best to focus on the things that matter, like keeping our five children alive, fed, happy, and loved, with clean clothing on their back and a lap to snuggle on and an open ear at the end of each day. We do our best to field and answer the 253 emails and texts daily from teachers, coaches, friends, etc. We do our best to schedule time for each of our children to have quality downtime with our family and to also play a sport or explore a passion or hobby outside of our home. We do our best to shuttle our children to all of the places that they need to be. We do our best to keep up with the things that matter at this busy stage in our lives parenting many children ages five to fourteen.

Let’s be honest, tidying up, purging & organizing our home after many babies…DOES. NOT. SPARK. JOY! Well, not initially anyway. The task at hand to organize my family home this past month felt like being stuck in a vortex of stuff that just kept creeping out of every door, every drawer, every closet & every room. HOW did we accumulate SO. MUCH. STUFF and how do we get through piles of books, clothing, paper and miscellaneous items piece by piece with so many family members to reduce the excess in our lives? To begin teaching the value of ‘less is more’; to begin spending less & really focusing only on the things that spark joy in our lives and keeping those items and getting rid of the rest. It is a time consuming & lengthy process, but worth it in the end.

What I learned through the process in our 68th hour of ‘Kondo-izing’ our home is it is easy to drown in the clutter that makes us feel anxious and it is essential that we continue to purge & organize our physical space. I learned by attaching greater meaning & value to a smaller number of things, means we are actually living more intentionally.  After you follow the steps in the KonMari method, you find that you actually do feel lighter and more free in the physically organized space. My children began appreciating their space/rooms more and we have kept up on organizing and keeping those places clear of clutter because we appreciate all of the hard work we have accomplished together! In other words, we don’t want to go back to just shutting the door and living out of clothes baskets. A new system is in place!

As we thanked and purged each item, I began to question if ‘things’ really SPARK JOY? I’d like to believe that it is the people and the experiences that we have in life that create the greatest sense of real joy; however, while ‘Kondo-izing’ our home this past month, I’ve been reminded how there are SO many things that I have kept over the years that really do spark joy. The first baby booties; the baby bassinet that I swaddled all of my babies in; the first special outfits & baby blankets and countless pieces of paper with their self-proclaimed art on it. I don’t want to forget the first baby portraits; the first Christmas lists to Santa; their first teeth lost or letter to the tooth fairy; their first haircuts; their first night in their toddler beds…It’s not just the good memories that we carry in our hearts and don’t want to forget as parents. I don’t want to forget the profound memory of planting a tree to honor our miscarried child or burying the first family dog after 14 years together. (We cherish a rock and cross to honor both events…) I don’t want to forget that three of our children fought for their lives in the NICU or the profound heartbreak of losing a parent/ grandparent together or the tears of leaving our hometown to start a new life in another state. (We cherish other items that memorialize these difficult times in our lives that have brought our family closer in the best of ways…) The list goes on, and on, and on…..SO MUCH STUFF = SO MANY MEMORIES both good and bad! When it comes to my children, my tribe, my miracles, my blessings, I find joy in this labor of love we call parenting…(even the hard and messy stuff)…and rejoice in my children being an extension of my heart through good times and bad. 

While I am learning to give thanks and let go of those baby car seats, baby swings, breast pumps, strollers and baby carriers after over a decade of being pregnant and nursing babies, I am learning to look back with nostalgic reflection and awe, wondering how we did it with so many little ones all at once, who were so dependent & critical with various health needs at different stages of their lives. The realization that the baby stages are now officially behind me & letting go of the things attached to that stage of parenting, just means that I am making room for this next stage of parenting with a clean home, a clear head & an open heart…and giving thanks and feeling proud for having survived the earlier years!

As I purge and reflect, giving thanks and letting go, I’m reminded some things just AREN’T. WORTH. PURGING.like the first drawings I had stashed away from each of our children when they wrote the words, “I LOVE YOU Mommy & Daddy” for the very first time…Precious love notes I will cherish forever. 

Sorry Marie, BUT I’m keeping THOSE!