Does It Bring Me Joy? A Quest to Declutter

I don’t know about you, but all the new things (toys, clothes, gadgets, etc.) we received for Christmas are just staring me in the face because they don’t have places to live. It’s not even THAT much stuff, but it sure feels that way. Especially the kids’ toys, which tend to be larger than our seven-month-old baby or pain-inducingly small when stepped on in the middle of the night. Part of me wants to start throwing out heaps of things, but the more rational half of my mind says to methodically declutter  and consign, donate, or trash accordingly.

The KonMari Method

My current method of sorting through our home goods uses Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Her devotees call it KonMari-ing to gather up household items by category throughout the house (not just based on room) and then physically hold each thing while asking if it sparks joy in their lives. If it does, it is a keeper. If not or if you hesitate, toss it. That hesitation is based on emotional attachment to what happened in your life when you bought or wore it. Make sure to thank each item before parting with it so there’s a sense of closure.

We did a clean out about a year and a half ago and compiled at least ten or garbage bags of clothes alone plus other items like luggage, blankets, and picture frames. This time around I need to focus on the categories of children’s stuff, knick-knacks/keepsakes, and papers. These things are admittedly harder to declutter than clothes because the majority are extra sentimental. The clothes my boys wore when they were tiny, childhood art saved by my parents, and notes passed between friends in high school comprise these categories.

The general messiness of my son’s room.

My first focus when I have a chunk of time will be decluttering the boys’ items [note: Marie Kondo would recommend the kids do this themselves, but considering I have a toddler and a baby, I’m in charge here.] Who am I kidding, I probably won’t have hours to gather up all the toys, put them in one spot, and sort them until the kids sleep better at night. Even then, I’ll need to find a time when both kids aren’t at home so they won’t catch me in the act of donating the stuff they never play with and naturally lose their minds over it all.

My Back-Up Plan

So my back-up plan involves stealthily moving some things to the attic and garage to be rotated back in if/when needed. They can’t play with all their toys at once, and enjoy their things more when they’ve taken a break from seeing them every day. Old toys become fresh and new – without actually buying new toys.

Toys to be moved to garage and attic.

We plan on using our toddler ‘s stuff for his brother so unless I extremely dislike something, we keep it for round two. Each boy has different preferences (my first hates jeans, for example) so I’m hesitant to declutter their items entirely. But once the baby has finished with something, like our ring sling or maternity clothes, I thank it and free it from my house. I feel a small (sometimes huge) thrill donating and consigning giant plastic containers of kids items. I’m totally, unnecessarily gleefully excited to be donating our swing, jumper, and rocking seat once our baby outgrows it because these items are disproportionate in size to our child and we will have some space back.

Of course it gets replaced with a playpen safety zone and other smaller things but I’ll take what I can get. I love the freedom of gaining a streamlined space with less visible clutter.

The only drawback: our last baby is growing up.

How do you declutter your homes?

Leslie Walbolt
Leslie has lived in Seminole for three years now, following moves from South Florida and Philadelphia due to her clergy husband’s career. An attorney in a former life, she is now a stay-at-home mom to two boys - an energetic four year old and a huggable one year old. Most of her time is spent chasing down (she means playing with) her two littles on playgrounds, during church services, and pretty much everywhere else (they're fast runners). Leslie loves to travel, work on her fitness at the local YMCA, and catch up on movies and books whenever possible. When she finds a free moment, she enjoys writing for her Growing a Kid blog, found at It follows the ups and downs of her life.