Happy Monday! It’s Merlin, showing you my Monday face. Not quite a wrinkled nose, meh face but close. I’m happy we’re only six weeks away from spring but there is so much going on at my house with all the extra cat care, running to the vet, human doctors, dealing with my ancient granny, working more hours than is wise, Layla has let go of house go to hell in a handbasket. Sure the 7 litter boxes are cleaned daily and there are always clean bowls but things just got out of control with stuff. Piles of clothes, papers, boxes and just stuff multiplying in dark closets, drawers and even on my favorite chair! People are constantly asking my mom how she does it all. Well, she doesn’t. No one can. Something has to give and in her case, it’s our over-stuffed, 200-year-old three-story home with four cats who shed, barf, pee and poo like most cats. We are collectors, not hoarders but without ongoing curating and rigorous cleaning the line can be crossed to Messyville.
The aha moment came last week when Layla read an article in the New York Times about the declutter queen The Cult Of Marie Kondo. Her book
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing sold over 3 million copies and her new follow-up book, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up is creating a global frenzy of decluttering.
What’s all the fuss about? It’s a new way and mindset about clutter, based on actually touching every single thing we own and asking: does this spark joy? If it doesn’t elicit I love or need it, we lovingly give it thanks and remove from our home. It could be sold, donated, recycled or tossed in the garbage. It’s an emotionally and physically intense process that can take months depending on how much stuff you have. What the Japanese neat freak author doesn’t address is living with pets and how ingrained our cultural differences are. The Japanese live in a fraction of space as the average American. She insists on not buying storage boxes or solutions but tackling one category at a time. First is clothes. You gather them from all over the house and go through the mountain one at a time. Next
Ms. Kondo insists we not buy storage boxes or solutions but tackling decluttering one category at a time. First is clothes. You gather them from all over the house and go through the mountain one at a time. Next is books, then paper, miscellaneous practical items, sentimental items and so on. I suggest gathering cat toys from all over the house and put them in a pile to sort is an easy one. Well maybe not getting those little mousies behind the fridge…
Marie is big on folding items and not hanging in a closet to save space. This is doable if you don’t have millions of things or ADHD. That rules us out! Layla is mesmerized by the folding method demonstrated in a video at Goop and dreams of drawer perfection. Ha, maybe in her next life.
This is what Marie Kondo taught us. It’s not magic, it’s work. But satisfying work. I wouldn’t know but apparently Layla says she feels like she ran a marathon with a dozen cats on her back and has the bruises to prove it. She claims it’s worth it.
- The concept is a wake-up call. While you may or may not become a Marie Kondo devotee, reading about the method will spark interest to look at your home with fresh eyes.
- There are many roads to Rome or Tokyo. One of her tips may resonate and others won’t. Forge your own path. Even improving one way of organizing is better than none.
- Lose the guilt and don’t compare. The first time we dump out our junk drawer or find out what’s really lurking in that closet, it’s easy to despair. Know you’re not alone and it’s okay. You are not Marie Kondo or Martha Stewart but you. Your cats love you no matter what, so don’t sweat it.
- Get real. Get Help. As soon as Layla did a room by room survey, she got real, fast. There was no way she could do the clothes thing first. Gathering an Everest of clothes from four closets on three floors when the stairs haven’t been vacuumed in weeks made no sense. She needed help and more than the usual cleaning lady. She called around and found a service that does a deep, heavy duty clean. It’s expensive but it’s a chicken or egg situation. Is it easier to clean once you’ve decluttered or it’s easier to declutter once you’ve deep cleaned. Only you can decide for yourself. Knowing two master cleaners were arriving, Layla panicked and went out to buy every cleaning product, jumbo plastic bags and 10 big storage containers. Suitably motivated and caffeinated she launched into declutter ninja mode, moving furniture and removing things that didn’t make her heart sing.
- It’s better to break a rule than do nothing. Buying storage or organizer type containers is a big Marie Kondo no no. She believes in serious purging and too much storage means the stuff is still there blocking flow or energy. In our case, the containers are a quick fix to allow the cleaners easier access. Chances are most of the packed items will not return to the house. We’re big on feng shui and all cleaning must be done before the 4th in time for the Chinese New Year. Useful feng shui tips for 2016, year of the monkey.
- It’s just stuff. It’s easy to get attached to our stuff but it’s surprising how light and free it feels to let go and have less. Less is more. If you get rid of stuff that you really don’t love, you won’t miss it. But remember if you’re getting rid of your cats’ stuff do it gradually. Us cats don’t like a lot of change suddenly.
- Be considerate of the cats! Cats could give a rat’s ass about books on “tidying”. Please inform us about the strange piles of objects, bags or boxes being moved from room to room. We may think you’re moving or worse. We may still stress but tell us calmly what are you doing and why. Keep our usual sleeping and hidey-holes the same. Don’t move our feeding stations or litter boxes and if you have to do it, do it one at a time gradually and not all at once. Keep your cats safely away from any cleaning products even eco-friendly ones. Don’t let them walk on floors still wet from washing. Using some calming flower essences or Feliway with nervous kitties. Read our guest post by our vet for more housecleaning tips with cats