10 steps for decluttering the Marie Kondo way

What to do after you're done binge-watching her show.

10 steps for decluttering the Marie Kondo way

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.

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.

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!

You might also like:

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

Keep reading Show less
Our Partners

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less

10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

Keep reading Show less