This article was originally published in the March 2016 edition of 605 Magazine.
It recently came to my attention that my house was a giant booby trap for a crawling baby.
You see, they say when your baby begins crawling, it is of utmost importance for you, yourself to get on all fours and view your house as your baby sees it. So, I did it. I got on all fours and crawled around my house looking the fool while surveying the situation. To my horror, it seems that every square inch of our dwelling is fraught with frightening frights of danger.
So, I placed our baby boy in what our older daughter calls “baby jail” (playpen) and I got to work. But as I slaved away, time started to lose all meaning and I found myself stuck in a mixed vortex of cleaning, organizing, and babyproofing. I became…overwhelmed. I would get distracted by an old picture or an old book. I would pause. Reflect. Then forget what I was doing. So, then I would drink a cup of coffee, change a diaper, play with my daughter, and then start again on the babyproofing. By the end of the day, after what felt like days of “work,” I got down on all fours again to see what I accomplished.
I had placed covers on three electronic outlets in our livingroom. That was it. That was all I had to show. I could see the conversation now, “Hi honey! What did you and the children do today?” And I would point excitedly to my three outlet covers. “Babyproofing! Ta-da!”
I needed help. Guidance. Or, a personal assistant. Or, my mom. None of which were readily available.
I think I’ve mentioned before that while I’m wildly creative and studious, my ability to properly run a household (i.e. polish silver, meal plan, organize, wear an apron, dust, clean, etc.) are wildly lacking. Just ask my husband. He will (gently) tell you this is true. So, after this failed day of babyproofing and cleaning and many countless frantic days running around looking for a shoe, a rogue piece of paper, what have you, I knew I needed to learn to be a better steward of our belongings.
I had been seeing around the interwebs lately a “method” of organizing and tidying and apparently it was changing people lives. So, I bought the book that allegedly taught this method. I’m such a sucker for methods. The book is entitled Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up. It is author Marie Kondo’s follow up to her holy grail of house organization book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Spoiler alert following! The major premise of the book is this: Discard anything in your home that does not bring you joy. Sounds easy, right? But as I began to delve into inner workings of this method, I found it is very specific. There is an order to order. And while a little of it sounds a bit hokey-pokey (she advocates that you say “goodbye” to the items you are discarding and thank them for their service -- Um, that is weird Marie Kondo), the specific method she teaches is genius for someone like me. She says that to begin to tidy, you first must discard/purge. And you purge in this order: Clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items, and then sentimental items. You do not so much as make eye contact with anything outside of the category you are working on in order to make 100 percent use of your time and efficiency. From there, you can tidy, organize, and store your entire house in the same order. When you are done, she says you will create an entire house that is filled with joy.
I have to admit, I was a skeptic. My whole life my belongings have been a wee bit…chaotic? And I never thought anything about it. But now that I have two humans depending on me, I started to realize it was making me feel crazy that I never knew where anything was. Getting my preschooler ready for school was like a code red military operation. Getting all of us (on time) to any place was practically a joke. But since implementing some of Marie Kondo’s method, I have to admit, it is joyful to be organized. I go into my closet and stare in wonder at the order. If you ask me where my daughter’s ballet shoes are right now, at this very moment, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt where they are. That is a miracle, folks. A springtime, miracle.
And my baby no longer has to be in “baby jail.” He is out, roaming free in the house. So, at the risk of sounding like an infomercial, I am astounded by this organizing method. And to all you type A people out there reading this and going, “Duh!” I hail you as chief. Because I am now a tidying believer!