After becoming a mother I quickly realized how difficult it can be to balance all of the things that come along with being a mom. I found myself in the middle of motherhood constantly cleaning up, organizing and just managing all of our STUFF, or just living in all the mess that comes with having little kids.

That was until I had my own realization that I didn’t need most of this stuff that was constantly taking up my time and peace of mind. That’s when both my husband and I decided to get rid of most of our possessions and start new with what we absolutely needed.

We have been living a minimalist lifestyle ever since, and that’s when I came to know about Marie Kondo, and fully embraced her methods for keeping a tidy home. This is what I learned:

1. Declutter BEFORE organizing

Moving things around solves a momentary problem. Things will get messy again, but decluttering and then organizing the things that truly bring us joy is what makes the difference. Stop managing all the stuff that is cluttering your life and let the things that don’t bring you joy go once and for all.

2. Take photos of your spaces before you begin

Taking photos isn’t to make you feel bad, it is actually a motivator to keep you going. It can be discouraging not to see results right away, and as you declutter you may feel as if you’re not making any progress, but looking back at the photos will bring you back to the reality of what used to be. And once you are done the photos will show you how far you’ve come.

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3. Start the tidying up process with clothes first

In her book, Spark Joy, Kondo explains “Clothes are ideal for practicing [the tidying up] skill first.”

Your clothes are very personal items in which you have complete control over what goes and what stays. To start, Kondo believes it’s important to take every article of clothing you own and put them into one big pile. This will allow you to see everything you have in one place, and help you evaluate what to keep and what to get rid of in one shot.

4. Hold each item in your hands, and ask yourself, “Does this item bring me joy?”

If an item brings you joy, keep it! If it doesn’t let it go.

In Spark Joy Kondo suggests that if you don’t know where to begin or what sparks joy, “Pick three items from a pile, and give yourself three minutes to decide. The best way to identify what does or doesn’t bring you joy is to compare. When you compare each item with a bunch of other things, your feelings become clear. “[Items that bring you joy are also items with] A simple design that puts you at ease, a high degree of functionality that makes life simpler… or the recognition that a possession is useful in our daily lives.”

5. Before getting rid of an item, hold it and say, “Thank you”

Really take a second to appreciate the joy each item gave you at a time in your life, the person that gave it to you, and just to be thankful to have owned it.

6. Fold clothes the Marie Kondo way

Once you have selected the items you want to keep, fold your clothes in a “file system” the Marie Kondo way. Folding clothes actually reduces the amount of space in your closet taken by clothes, while allowing you to easily find the items that you love.

7. Tidy sentimental items last

Have you ever started decluttering and found a bunch of old pictures, and before you know it you have spent the last three hours going through them, with no desire to keep at the task you were doing before? It’s important that you remember to leave the sentimental items LAST. After decluttering and organizing all of the necessities in your home, then we have space to add and organize the beautiful emotional items we want to keep.

8. Know that it will look worse before it looks better.

Taking everything out to declutter will make it feel like it will never look better, but Marie herself believes that it’s a necessary step for you to really see how much you have and to push you to tidy up. In her own words “No matter how cluttered it looks, don’t pause, don’t stop, don’t quit”

9. Do and your children will follow.

When our children see us tidy up, and know that there’s a place for everything at home, it’s much easier for them to follow. Teach them to have a place for their things as well, and allow them to be involved in the process of cleaning up.

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10. Tidy up BEFORE you move.

“If you want to meet a beautiful home that is just right for you, take care of the one you live in now.” Kondo writes.

It’s so easy to start the decluttering process as you get ready to move. But how much easier is it to move once you know that everything you own you already love? Stop putting off the clutter and start now!

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