Everybody said that without a helper now, I will just have to put up with a messier house in exchange for a more peaceful state of mind and more family privacy. Which sounds like a fair trade off. After all our mental health is more important than a spot-free house! I thought long and hard about it. But there has to be a way that’s better than that. Why can’t I have it all??? I am a firm believer of having all your cakes and eat every single piece of it down to the last drop of fresh cream.
You know what? Screw the messy house. I refuse to let that be my fate just because I don’t have a helper around. I am #Pokemom and I can keep my house even CLEANER AND TIDIER than when I had a helper.
Coincidentally, the nesting instinct has kicked in BIG TIME once I hit my 37th week of pregnancy. It will only be a couple weeks before I meet my new baby and I just thought I wanted to have the best home for her to come home to.
So I begin to seriously study house-keeping. Like for the first time in my life. I have never thought that it is something you need to learn and master (apparently in Japan, there are courses for ladies who want to become housewives. It IS a legit job!!! A hobby even.). One day I retrieved the aired laundry and I was wondering how the hell I should fold the bed sheet nicely (I have never, EVER done it in my life. For the past decades I just anyhow rolled it up into a ball of wrinkled mess and shoved it into the cupboard).
So I googled. And then in about 15 minutes I learnt how to fold the perfect bed sheet. And I thought, hey, if I can fold even the goddamn bed sheet, there really is nothing I cannot learn. So I started watching more and more Youtube videos, and I came across the KonMari method of tidying.
I actually knew about Marie Kondo a couple of years back, and I have always wanted to read her book because it is such a huge hit in Japan, and internationally now. It’s almost like a global phenomenon. The KonMari phenomemon. If you haven’t, you should.
Or get your helper to read it, at least lol.
I spent just a couple of hours finishing her first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. And it truly was life-changing. For me at least. I probably have never been so inspired by a book (other than “The Secret” a few years ago).
It wasn’t like she revealed otherworldly secrets of tidying, but it was more of her philosophy and attitude towards tidying. I just have so much respect for this young lady after finishing her book. Confident yet humble, and she sounded really genuine and likeable.
She has a fixed method and step-by-step guide to tidying and de-cluttering, but what truly changed me was how she thinks one should treat her belongings. Most of us treat our belongings as… things. Which is totally logical, because they are things. But Marie Kondo sees everything as if it has a soul, and she treats her belongings with love, gratitude and utmost respect.
This concept was not unfamiliar. When I was very very little, I used to feel bad for the ceiling fan in our house in Seremban because it was always working soooo hard and non-stop for our home to provide cool breeze for our family, to the point it became so shabby and wobbly and it looked really tired. Sometimes I would tell my mom to give it a break, but our house had no air-con back then and it was soooo hot! I felt so helpless for it. Everyone thought I was being silly.
Also, I once was the person who thanked everything I saw, owned or touched. But I only did it because I was in Japan. And then whenever I returned home, I just forgot all about it and take everything for granted. I should truly be ashamed. And I decided to change that once and for all.
No matter where I am, I will learn how to respect and be thankful for everything. Including non-living objects.
And thus began my KonMari Tidying Festival, starting with my clothes (which is according to her tidying order in the book).
The first step is to get rid of stuff. LOTS OF STUFF. If you have read her book, you would have known that her two key methods of discarding are:
- Choose what you want to keep, not what you want to discard
- Choose by the “Spark Joy” criteria
This was our wardrobe before tidying:
Actually it didn’t look that bad, but it was crammed and messy enough that I had zero motivation to find something nice to wear. I only wore what I could see or whatever I wore a few days ago and just keep rotating them.
Also, I realized we had no space at all to accommodate new baby’s stuff, so it’s time I clear up and make room for the kids!
We even had a separate closet to keep all the things that didn’t fit into the 3-column wardrobe, which included bags, shoes, Junya’s clothes, towels. It totally felt like a creepy squirrel could crawl out of the closet any time.
So I began putting every single piece of clothing on the floor and started touching and hugging each pieces to see if they “spark joy”.
The whole pile obviously sparked a lot of joy for Junya XD.
Sorry but mama’s making the call here. ^^
The selection process took one whole day. There were so many pieces that I hardly ever wore, or even brand new. I’m sure it is true for every girl. Don’t feel guilty or sorry for it when you dispose of it/give it away. Instead, thank it. Thank it for the thrill it has given you when you first purchased it. It has now fulfil its purpose.
Before discarding each piece of clothing that did not bring me any joy, I folded them nicely, told them otsukaresama deshita and that I was thankful for them having served me thus far, and bid goodbye. That is the final respect you can give the clothes you are about to let go of.
All 11 bags of non-joy clothes.
It does sound a bit crazy, but it truly did make parting a pleasant and guilt-free one. For clothes that were too new and nice (but doesn’t bring me joy anymore) to throw away, I am giving them away or selling them, so I too bid them good bye, and wish that they find a better owner whom they will be happier with.
Marie Kondo was right. If you store an item deep, hidden, it is forgotten and as good as dead, no matter how expensive and precious it was for you.
I haven’t worn this pair of EMODA heels for a long time, and it used to be my favorite. But once forgotten, it started peeling as if it has been neglected and slowly dying away. It was sad. On the other hand, shoes that I wear every single day don’t seem to be worn out even with all the walking! How unbelievable is that!
For some of the items that I am not sure if really spark joy and too wasteful to throw away, I keep them and promise to take good care of them from now on. Even if it means I won’t really wear them often.
After selection, I started giving all the joy-giving clothes a home. One would have thought that it is tedious chore, but that, was the best part of it all.
Folding it the Marie Kondo way: Origami style.
She said that we should think of it like a Japanese bento box. Everything is arranged compact, beautiful and colorful to enhance appetite (in this case, joy). And then no matter how boring folding clothes used to be for one, it is now a pleasurable activity to do. And she was right. Just after ONE folding session, I became very obsessed and I don’t think I’ll ever let anyone fold my clothes anymore, because it’s such a personal and intimate thing to do, to touch your own clothes, to express your gratitude to them and put them back nicely back where they belong.
Whenever I fold a new piece of clothing, especially new clothes for soon-to-be-born baby girl, I will say “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu” (please take good care of her/us) in my heart to it. Because it is what will protect her tiny fragile body, and I am counting on it and giving my advance thanks and faith to it that it will do its best.
So after two days two nights straight, our wardrobe is finally complete with a grand makeover.
My favorite is of course baby girl’s wardrobe. That’s truly the perks of having girls ^^. Guilt-free unlimited fluffy and pink stuff! 😀 😀 😀
Here are some before and after photos!!
Allocation of wardrobe space:
It was unbelievable how much clothes I got rid of. I maybe really got rid of 60-70% of them!
The danna’s wardrobe still looks cluttered because he wasn’t back from Singapore yet and I couldn’t just simply throw away his stuff without permission.
Anyway I am not fully satisfied with it yet. I think there are room (plenty now lol) for improvements!!! I will not stop until it is perfect!!!
Additional closet. Shoes have all been move to the shoe rack outside.
The bags in the middle rack are what we use everyday: My current favorite backpack from Porter X BAPE, Junya’s schoolbag, his diaper bag and a tray to keep things from the bag’s content which I will need on a daily basis, like car key, wallet, cameras, etc.
I used to keep it in the bag, but Marie Kondo says that since the bag has worked hard the whole day for you without a single complaint, the least you could do is to empty the content and let it relax. It will thank you for it. Another advantage of doing this is that I can now easily pick just what I need and transfer it to another bag.
Off-season (winter) clothing. Suddenly I have so much extra space!
Accessory compartment. Kept only the ones I truly cherish.
Drawer for tops and pajamas. Now I can see everything at one glance. And it is more likely that I will wear different clothes now XD.
Drawer for bottoms. No rummaging upside down inside out anymore.
Danna’s T shirt and shorts drawer.
I love the transformation. And I love Marie Kondo’s book so much. (And she is sooooooo cute!)
It is a very Japanese way of thinking. Marie Kondo served as a shrine maiden before, so her approach and practice is very Shinto, which is no wonder why it struck so close to my heart since I really believe in it.
I once requested if I could have a wallet which the danna did not use anymore, of which he said he bought it yearrrrs ago, and I was surprised at how new it is!! I asked how come he never use it much since it is a beautiful wallet, and he replied, “it isn’t because it is rarely used, it is because I used it with care.”
It is true. If you love and respect something, it will love you back and serve you faithfully. It will have this shine and aura, and it lasts a long time. I am still using the wallet now and I have decided to use it with utmost care and respect.
A wallet is also where you keep your money, so it is something super important and should be treated with extra respect. The danna said if your wallet is messy and full of receipts, new money will never come. So I make it a point to clear all receipts every day, re-arrange the notes, and say thank you to it for providing me yet another beautiful day paying for meals and goods and keeping me content and happy.
It is really quite a surprise to see that I am only inspired to keep my house tidy and clean after the helper is gone. I guess it really was a sign from the universe to tell me that I am really better than what I thought I could do. I am now thankful for her for letting me discover this new found strength. It was the best blessing from her.
Besides, Marie Kondo said that before you commit to this grand tidying campaign, ask yourself, why do you want to tidy up? Obviously you want a neat and clean house, but why?
For me, I want to live in a house that makes me and my family happy. And it took me one whole year to realize how my house did not “spark joy” with an extra human in it, but now that I have bid goodbye to that person, the house suddenly feels so much more loving and peaceful. I want to be surrounded by all the things I love and will love me back.
And I also want to truly learn to be someone who is good at tidying up, so that my kids will learn the same. If their own mother cannot even keep a house tidy and clean (or fold a goddamn bed sheet), it is impossible that they will learn to do so. I refuse to let them grow up in a house where a maid will always clean up after whatever mess they make. They will learn to take care of themselves from young age and be responsible.
So once Junya turns 3 he will have to learn how to fold his own clothes, the KonMari way lolol. And it will be a fun thing to do, not a chore.