Happy New Year guys!
Great news! I’ve just had an Epiphany, before the Feast of the Epiphany this Sunday 6 Jan and what a great way to wrap up the wonderful Christmas Season on an inspirational high! So here it is!
I am so bad at organising because I don’t appreciate what I have!
That’s it. You can stop reading now if you like, but to see how I’ve arrived at this realisation and why it’s important for you on this Minimalism journey, please read on.
I can and have freely thrown things away or donated them because I think… ‘Out of sight, out of the house, out of my life – out of my mind.’ Minimalism is about having fewer things, yes, but in a weird way, I actually resented the things that I did have, viewing them as a hindrance to my peace and progress.
The realisation I’ve had through Kon Marie-ing my way through Laundry this week was that… even though I have such few things…
my house can still be
I don’t value what I have
I’m a lazy housekeeper
Ding, ding, ding!
Two days of lovingly folding and appreciating every piece of clothing and linen in my house gave me a new found appreciation and joy of doing the mundane task of laundry.
Can this even be possible? As a working mother of four soon to be five, lovingly and joyfully doing chores?
One of the benefits of being Catholic is having access to great spiritual guidance. One such privilege I have is joining an Opus Dei Cooperators Circle once a month. Here we always end with an examination of our conscience and one of the questions that always cuts me deep goes something like this.
‘Have I left the tasks of the day to later, which is the equivalent to not doing them at all?’
That’s me… lots of times, especially of late.
Lots of women go through the nesting stage in their second or third trimester of pregnancy. This time around, I did not. I am having an induction in less than 24 hours and I have just half prepared my hospital bag. I’ve Just laundered and organised my soon to be newborns clothes, linen and towels into a drawer. I’ve just cleaned out and re-organised my pantry and fridge. I’ve just made an organising system for the toys that were introduced into our home over the past month. Further, my husband and I’ve just done all the laundry that we neglected to clean, sort out and put away for the past month.
But this is not even everything. Tomorrow, we have a mould and bug problem to deal with, furniture to be rearranged in our kid’s room, mow the overgrown lawn and clean out and organise the kitchen cupboards and drawers. As a consequence, the toy room which we downsized to a corner in our living room, has now been semi emptied and become a storage room which unfortunately accumulated all our winter clothes and things that need to be out of sight – for now (in case I have a mental breakdown when I come home with the baby).
This is me in a leaving it to the last minute and driven by the clock mode. Whether this gets done without an injury or breakdown, remains to be clear.
Another reminder I get through prayer is to offer up the tasks of the day to God. Or to joyfully go about your daily tasks as an example for your children. Or to do small things with great love.
As you can see all this is extremely hard for me. I grew up with the label, lazy, so my default is to procrastinate and to put things off for another time. I admit, I owned lazy as part of my being and relished in it, because that was the behaviour that everyone expected of me.
Obviously, I had to grow up and part of me finding a solution to that problem and trying to deal with anxiety over clutter was to simply have fewer things.
Easy enough, but not really.
As I said, lazy, is my default from childhood. So when I get in a lazy mood, it’s nice and nostalgic. It reminds me of a time, where I didn’t have so much responsibility of little people watching me, or when I didn’t care so much about people dropping in unexpectedly and seeing mess everywhere and judging me on my housekeeping skills or the cleanliness of my home.
When I get lazy, no one is allowed in my house and I take that mood for a ride.
Look I’m not trying to be all ‘Mea Culpa’ here. I can be super on top of everything, clean and organised, but it just takes one day (or two) of exhaustion, stress, illness, bad mood or just plain let’s call it what it is can’t be effed, to get me running the lazy reel. Once I am there, it takes a super motivated, blogging and inspirational version of me to get out of it. (Hence this post and Hello world moment I am having right now!)
Recently, as in two days ago, as a way to prepare my house for a newborn at the eleventh hour, I went through the Kon Marie method of tidying all of our clothes and linen. I mean every. single. piece. of clothing and linen in our house. It took us a good two days of laundering, sorting and lovingly folding clothes. Luckily for me, my husband (after months of asking) also at the eleventh hour acquired the skill of loading, hanging and bringing in the laundry. It has been a dream come true for me and my love levels for him have skyrocketed. All I had to do, really, was sit on my bed and lovingly fold clothes into neat little rectangular shapes and arrange them into drawers.
This process started as mostly panic of an impending new child into our home and reluctance, but it’s almost done and it feels fabulous!
If you have ever seen Marie Kondo fold clothes a big part of it, is to communicate your appreciation for each piece of clothing, by thanking it for what it does for you. After taking the time to appreciate each piece of clothing that I stacked neatly into our drawers and say goodbye to each item that went into the donation pile, I found a weird sensation of pride and gratitude.
What I was able to do, was declutter all our clothes. As a result all we have to manage through this Summer and Autumn (as our Winter clothes have been packed away) is one drawer each; one for me, one for my husband, one for two boys and one for two girls, one linen drawer, one towel drawer, one drawer for uniforms, one drawer for jumpers and unseasonal weather. Pride!
I have Pride that we actually have few things and I can say that I practice what I preach. I also have a new sense of gratitude for the clothes that have been left behind. They continue to keep us warm, cool, protected, help present us and give us joy.
It is such a weird coincidence that tonight as I couldn’t sleep my husband said… ‘I’ll make you a coffee (coffee makes me sleepy) and put a movie on for you.’ Low and behold, Marie Kondo’s new Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo had premiered today. I had no idea she was making a series so this is destiny and an affirmation from my angels above that I am on the right track.
I’ve followed Marie Kondo for a very long time, I’ve tried the method many times as a part of being a minimalist, but I don’t think I quite grasped the concept until I watched a few of her YouTube videos on how to fold clothing a few days ago, hence our laundry spree.
I always thought it was just about keeping the things that gave you joy and folding them into compact little rectangles to save on space.
But as I took the time to understand the concept a few days ago and even now as I watched her new Netflix series, I understand just how wise and completely biblical the whole concept is.
Surprisingly it has really given me motivation and excitement going into this next phase of our life with a newborn. One anxiety for me was the month ahead. Sleepless nights, breastfeeding struggles, laundry, chores, nappies, crying etc.
Even though I am exhausted and my body is tired from lugging this baby around, I was not ready to go into complete charity and chore mode for the next month.
It’s wonderful how epiphanies and Netflix binging work.
Almost instantaneously I have realised how wonderful tidying up can be, how it does not have to be a burden, how chores done with joy can guide your children into such a wonderful future, how having less is great, but being intentionally thankful for the things you do have, can bring about joy.
Here are some mini-epiphanies that moved from my head to my heart this week;
- ‘Have I left the tasks of the day to later, which is the equivalent to not doing them at all?’ This examination of conscience is calling me to be proactive in life, to just get on with the daily tasks of the day and not ignore them based on the emotion of the moment. Marie Kondo teaches that tidying is a life skill that can be enjoyed. It’s a stark difference to what I adopted growing up in a large family. I saw daily tasks as a never-ending, pointless and thankless job – it made me resent clutter and chores. Hence de-cluttering helped me a great deal, but still having daily chores bummed me out. Seeing my mother labour for hours to have it all messed up again, maintained the ‘what’s the point’ mentality in me.
- Another reminder I get through prayer is to offer up the tasks of the day to God. When we offer up something as a sacrifice, we are achieving two things at once chores and prayer. Marie Kondo in a similar manner introduces herself to each house before she starts work in it. She thanks the house for the purpose it has served the family. She invites the people in the house to do the same. I don’t think I have ever been so intentionally thankful for the house that I live in (probably because I have such a detachment to things) but this act of appreciation and gratitude really moves me. It is so unusual that it caused me to pause and wonder what I would say if I were to actually talk to this house… ‘Wow, this house has sheltered us, helped us create memories, been a place of peace, a safe haven to our children’. That is super wonderful and I should definitely place more value on it, by joyfully taking care of it and by extension the people in it. When I offer up my daily tasks, I know that I will also be offering up a prayer of gratitude for this home that we have, thanking it for what it provides us and hoping to do it justice as a home and not just a place where all our things are.
- Joyfully go about your daily tasks as an example for your children. The idea of this virtuous way of conducting yourself is in hope that your children will mirror what they see. There have been many times where I’ve absolutely despised the fact that I had to do dishes, wipe benches, vacuum floors or do anything at all after eating dinner. It seems so unfair that after a relaxing meal, getting to know how your kids and husband went throughout the day and talking, you end up barking orders to go through the whole clean up, bath time, story time and bedtime routine. My behaviour has mainly demonstrated what I have felt growing up. ‘What a pain’, ‘what’s the point’, ‘not again’, ‘i’ll leave it until someone else does it’, ‘let’s just go to bed and hope it will fix itself in the morning’. Low and behold, I realised that my eldest son, who is by nature a positive go-getter, who sings as he does chores, a genuinely joyful kid has adapted my bad attitude. On an off day, his behaviour irritates me, because he is behaving just like I behave at my worst hour. Marie Kondo teaches that tidying up should be a shared responsibility in the home, but the example of joy and gratitude in tidying up has to come from the parents. ‘Thank you dish for serving food to my small children and fork for guiding food into my child’s mouth’. Ha, that seems insane, but if it makes you a little more grateful and joyful when cleaning, why not try and adopt it. Now I’m not sure about actually talking to an object as if it has a soul, but in your mind, just saying thank you to God for what you have and letting that joy fill your life as you do these chores is a wonderful concept.
- Do small things with great love. The other day, I was motivated to pick up a piece of trash I’ve seen hidden beside my couch for a month and put it in the bin. That little act formed part of my finest hour, in over four months. It led me to look up KonMari and start with lovingly doing our laundry. I had done the laundry with such great love that when I revealed the drawer to my boys, my second eldest hugged me with such appreciation and gratitude because he could easily pick out a shirt that he liked, without pulling out all his clothes.
Which I guess sums it all up. Doing small and insignificant things with great love. Everyone has space, a house, a place. So, I’m sure everyone has many small and insignificant things that have to be done throughout the day. I wonder if this method will change the way you look at life in your space?
When we ask Our Father to ‘Give us our daily bread’ I hope we can take it joyfully and with great love moving forward. I’m sure motivated to do so!
Happy New Year to you all and speak to you again when I have a baby number five! A new baby girl!