How to Declutter Your Home

Help finding a sustainable organizing strategy.

Photo: Instagram/MarieKondo

Clutter… even the word is enough to give me heart palpitations! I’m not super great at maintaining neatness, but I often reach a breaking point. I get overwhelmed by the jumble of stuff littering our small house and have to regularly purge closets, toys and other junk that seems to magically accumulate.

Netflix recognizes our propensity to collect things and our need to weed out the unnecessary, particularly at this time of year, with their perfectly timed show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Kondo’s mission is to “spark joy in the world through tidying.”

How to Declutter Your Home

The KonMari Method

Kondo’s method is different than the typical organizing strategy of going room by room. She advises decluttering by category:


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Komono (kitchen, bath, garage, miscellaneous)


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Kondo suggests taking out all items in a category and putting them in a pile, touching each item and keeping only the things that “spark joy” or give you “warm, positive feelings.” She says to thank each item as you get rid of it and convey love to each thing you keep.

Additional Decluttering Ideas

And while Marie Kondo’s bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, is wildly popular, some are critical of her strategy. They feel it could be overwhelming, prompting people to quit before they even get started.

If the category method feels like too much, try one of these options:

  1. Instead of doing everything at once, declutter in 10-minute bursts. Use one naptime a day to tackle as much as you can.
  2. Narrow down Marie’s large categories into smaller categories, such as sweatshirts or t-shirts instead of looking at all your clothes.
  3. Ask yourself if you would buy it again or if you can replace it in 20 minutes for less than $20, then you should let it go.
  4. Find an online group or a friend to help you accomplish the KonMari method.

Another alternative is starting in one room and sorting items into 5 baskets:

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  1. Put away (for example, things that belong in another room like a cup by your bed that needs to go back to the kitchen)
  2. Recycle
  3. Fix/Mend (for example, things that need something done to them and need a place to wait until they are fixed)
  4. Trash
  5. Donate

Trying this method during naptime could give you direction. Additionally, it keeps things contained for next time if you get interrupted.

Here are a few other creative ideas to declutter over time rather than committing a large chunk of time to the task.

  1. Give away one thing each day.
  2. Fill one trash bag as fast as you can, which can either be thrown away or donated.
  3. Make a list of areas that need to be organized and do one area at a time.
  4. Find 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to put away where they belong.

Clearly, there are many ways to go about removing clutter and organizing our homes. Some love the KonMari method and others find it too overwhelming. Find a strategy that works with your personality as well as something that is sustainable over the long hall.

Decluttering takes time and energy, which are things that can be in short supply for moms. As you sift through the items in your home, consider making some changes that keep the stuff from coming into your home in the first place. When big events (such as Christmas and birthdays) bring an abundance of stuff in, purge first to make room for the new things.

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Whether you follow Marie Kondo’s method or not, it is true that having a tidy space does bring a certain amount of joy. Happy decluttering!

Annie Wiesman

Annie Wiesman

Annie Wiesman is the co-author of “Education Begins at Birth: A Parent’s Guide to Preparing Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers for Kindergarten.” She is a former kindergarten teacher turned stay-at-home mom who enjoys traveling, hiking in the mountains, and creating memories together with her husband and little girl.

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