The KonMari Method and Me: KonMari my kiddos

So far we’ve had a day of reflection and a day to tackle my own clothes. Day 2 and Day 3 I went after the kids’ clothes.

Day 2: The boy Clothes

We have three born children, first a girl, then a boy, then a girl. The boxes of girl clothes have swelled. They are, however, better sorted than the boy clothes. Those never required another thought other than fitting it into a box for moving.

I spent an hour simply sorting all the boy clothes into sizes. With my first child I attempted to store clothing based on its relative sizes because, if you have children, you know not every 6-9 months is exactly as it is says it is. This method was foolish and made it very difficult to find the things that fit when Girl #2 was ready for a new size.

Welcome KonMari Method. I don’t know that I followed this exactly. What to keep for children is part practical and part about joy. I immediately see that I get more joy in looking at girl clothes than boy clothes. Yet I feel joy when I think of how happy he was to wear those t-shirts. I throw into the discard pile, nearly a full garbage bag. There are items never worn, items given that were faded, items too badly stained to bother with. It’s a simple process yet I still manage to overwork myself.

Baby shower gifts should include this book by Marie Kondo. It’s a double-edged sword. It will bring immense delight to the nesting mother, and immense tiredness. After some heart palpitations, I decide I should sit more often as I work on this.

Still, when I finish, there is another bag with the bunch. My gold star for a day’s work.

Thinking of Kondo’s advice, I use what I have on hand to make my storage efficient. I tear off cardboard box sides and make dividers for the plastic storage boxes. Previously I would have had one size on bottom and one on top, but as she points out, this makes no sense. It only makes a mess when you are looking for something specific. So the boxes are divided, left and right, with two separate sizes in each box. I manage to fit nb/0-3 month clothing all the way to 2T in three boxes. Since we’re embarking on adventures in boyland again in January, I focused on keeping more and discarding less.


Day 3: The girl clothes

IMG_7665I made it: the third day. While my husband was at work, I brought in the boxes of girl clothes from the closet, 7 ½ boxes. While my sick kiddos watched The Wizard of Oz, I made my way through the piles. The process was no emotional for me. Many items gave me joy, some more than others, and it was easy to toss those that did not. It may be that so many were purchased for us, or were purchased at the thrift store. Several times, however, I thought of my mom helping with our yard sale or asking her to help with some of the stained items and worried about how she might react if she saw all the clothes I was discarding. But I would just tell her the numbers.

I started with 7 ½ and now have 4 ½. Three will go to the attic. One is the next size up for the younger and the last, not totally full, is winter clothing for my eldest. With the changing season, it’s appropriate.

So no major revelations during the day three of the process. I’m excited to tackle books now. I admit, I’m tempted to fold my husband’s clothes, but I will try to resist and focus only on that which falls under my jurisdiction.

The KonMari Method and Me: a mother of three tackles all her clothing

To read about my first encounter with the KonMari Method, see the first part of this series, here.

Day 1: KonMari my clothes

My ambition: sort through all the clothes in the house except my husband’s. Kondo recommends a special way of folding and I have doubts I could ever entice him to do that, so I’ll leave his stuff alone. That leaves, all my clothes from pre-pregnancy (which I thought I might wear ago) to maternity to the largest size, immediate postpartum clothing, plus the clothing of three children.

Kondo advises that all your clothes be store in one place after you have discarded. So that is my goal. No more storage boxes of clothes that I will forget about when whichever stage comes along. All my clothes in one place…where I can see them…in my closet. Oy vay.

Kondo recommends that most clothing be folded. We have limited drawer space because for so long I have believed in hanging everything. Yet she preaches that clothing takes significantly less space folded rather than hung. Because of her worldview, she speaks about certain items of clothing being “happier” than others. While I don’t attribute emotion to clothing, I can see when these items are better treated, so I get her meaning.

I ask my husband to bring every box of clothing from the attic and garage he can find into our bedroom for me to work. Kondo directs me to put all the clothes in one place, every scrap. You cannot accurately gauge how much you own until it’s in one place. Once I bring out all my clothes, I tell him to stop because my pile is high (remember, we’re spanning five sizes plus maternity because of the babies and my penchant for shopping).

I get to work. It’s a little emotional, in that, it’s a lot of emotion to being paying attention to. Does this give me joy? Again and again. I get discourage that I’m keeping so much. I’m working to finish just so I can take a nap on the bed.

I remember two more boxes under my bed. I take a look: in one box my extreme maternity/postpartum and the other box is the exciting size I reached before finding out I was pregnant again. I feel so discouraged. How can I go through more? Where will I put it all. It is one thing to sort this through stuff and make piles, but rearranging, folding, storing. It feels daunting. I doubt I will manage the goals I didn’t even realize I had. They were an unspoken vision, I guess.

I get the bed cleared and finish all but those two discovery boxes. I don’t feel excited. I try to show my husband all I accomplished thinking it will help it sink in. Obviously I accomplished something. I mean, there is a huge pile of clothes to be discarded on the ground and no more boxes that will return to the garage. It doesn’t work and I still feel kind of down. I definitely feel tired.

I can’t sleep. I’m thinking I’m not sure KonMari is for women in my stage. We just cannot realistically downsize that much. It does not make sense to continue to purchase maternity clothes, etc, when you think there is a fair chance you might have another child in the not too distant future.

I lay down for forty minutes. I can’t sleep so I decide to read more of her book. Maybe it’s not working for me because I didn’t read all of the book before beginning. I read some more, but she is talking more about storage now than discarding, as she says to do all your discarding first. I have to store my clothes because it will be two weeks before the next workday.

When I get up from resting, I feel a sense that I can tackle at least one box. There is plenty of room in closet for the pants at least. After folding and storing in the drawers, I’m only using about half the hanging space.

I finished that box. That wasn’t so bad. I’m sure I can find room for these last five shirts.

You know, I bet I can tackle that last box.

And using an open storage box I had on hand, I have a place for even those clothes on the shelf in my closet.

IMG_7656I did it.  IMG_7659   I grew up with my parents remodeling their barn to use it for storage. There were four wardrobes in the upstairs for clothes. There were boxes everywhere upstairs, downstairs. Now they have even more storage space. I grew up with a perspective of storing what you don’t use in case you need it later. It often pays off.

IMG_7661But I wasn’t happy having boxes and boxes, never knowing where things are. Finding something by accident and thinking how much I wished I had that a week ago.

IMG_7662So it feels really good that I reached my goal. I only got through my clothes, but all work days must come to an end and the dishes must be done.

IMG_7663I don’t have any clothes outside my closet, aside from large jackets in the coat closet and costumes in the nursery closet. It feels really good. It is not just a goal reached, but a certain peace of mind that it is all in place, I can see it all, nothing hiding, no questions about where things are. It’s order.

IMG_7651Maybe I’ll try to tackle kid clothing before the next workday. That one shouldn’t be quite so difficult, at least emotionally. Until next time…

Target’s change with the changing times: ending “boy toys” and “girl toys”

I’m in favor of Target “de-genderizing” their toy section. Some commentators got out of hand thinking they were putting boy and girl clothes together as well, removing those labels, but that was never true. So let’s focus on just the toys.

I have never liked “girl toys.” What is meant by “girl toys?” If you looked at Target’s aisle, you would know really quickly. It means pink. It means pastels. It means dolls. It means a lot of princess-Disney marketing and it means a lot more pink.

Boy toys? It means blue. It means dark colors. It means action figures and action toys and remote controlled toys.

Girls pretend. Boys control. Ha, sounds like modern dysfunctional relationships.

Some Christian’s object to Target’s decision. Matt Walsh:“Yes, Target, I Do Want My Daughter To Conform To Her Gender”.

I agree that we need to model behavior for children. So for nearly five years now I’ve been really happy to buy pink brooms and pink shopping carts and pink Cuisinart and paint my iron, pink (couldn’t find that one in pink) so that my daughter will know that the fact that all these pretending role playing toys are meant to imitate my life. I’m modeling domesticity for her. Naturally, my things should be pink because I am female and when you mix two X chromosomes you get a pink. I’m fortunate that the birth of my daughter coincided with breast cancer awareness because it’s really easy for me to find lots of pink so I can model good feminine behavior for her.

I also made sure to buy pink high heels and pink fairy dresses for myself.

I got a little carried away there.

I’ve always believed in just buying toys that fit my kids interests. Since my son turns toy guns, sticks, hose faucets, and American flags into guns (my little budding Republican), it’s not hard to figure out he’ll like the Lone Ranger. He can bond with his dad because his dad likes guns and making hose water spray really hard out of diy contraptions. My daughter loves to get fancy so we bought Fancy Nancy books and I buy her headbands that are on sale and jewelry from thrift stores or yard sales.

It pisses me off when a doctor kit comes in pink. What doctor carries a doctor kit? No way, I mean, what doctor uses a pink doctor kit. My kid will be interested in the things she is interested in not because they are pink but because they are interesting and because interesting models of behavior exist in her life.

Medical Care Set
From Target, at least the case is white.

So you know what? I do the sweeping. My son wants to sweep. He has to do it with a pink broom because someone bought a pink broom for my daughter. Oh we’re creating gender confusion! Watch out! Let me get him another gun.

Don’t worry too much about him. He is practicing nurturing with his “baby doggy” rather than a doll. I guess that means we’re on the right path.

I just think that role playing toys are amazing and should as closely reflect the real thing as possible and last more than one child. Melissa and Doug toys are fantastic. Let doctor kits be white and black and whatever other colors doctors like. Let brooms be green or black or wood (I really want a wood indoor broom).

Melissa and Doug doctor kit

Who decided pink was feminine and blue was masculine? It’s an American trend that is not more than a century old.

So go ahead Target. Why not? They’ll look better lying on my living floor if they’re not pink.

Now for the substantial ideas, in a nutshell. To say that pink toys and role playing toys are feminine and feminizing and that dark-colored, action-oriented toys are masculine man-makers is a symptoms of fragmentary complementarity. This is for boys and this is for girls. These are masculine qualities; these are feminine qualities.

What is masculinity and femininity? They are the respective sexes “way of being in the world,” so said Saint Pope John Paul II. They are a way of experiencing the world. Women do not actually wear rose colored glasses so it does not mean that pink toys will help a girl learn to embrace a feminine way of being in the world.

To reduce masculinity and femininity to superficial traits is to totally mis-define what it means to be masculine or feminine. It mislabels individuals who display qualities that don’t fit the Bem Sex Role stereotypes. It makes the powerhouse female saints who are Doctors of the Church to be weird, anomalies, and not feminine.

We should nurture the qualities our children display, whatever they may be. We don’t need pink and blue to do it.