So, two books. Sink Reflections and The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Bear in mind as I do a short (I know you are busy) comparison of the two, that I’ve been living with Sink Reflections a long time, and The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up is new to me.
Newer book first. Marie Kondo teaches her readers how to get rid of stuff. How to, really, avoid spending a lot of time tidying up because you live with less. Not a minimalist though. She tells us that what we keep needs to spark joy. From clothes to cooking pots to memorabilia – she is pretty convincing about HOW the things we own spark joy or DON’T. So much of what we own doesn’t spark joy. This resonated with me, simply because of the educational paradigm that we’ve chosen. My own byline on that topic is simply, “Before you buy any program, curriculum, book or sign up for an activity, ask yourself first if it will add to or detract from your family life.” In other words, spark joy – in family life.
I love that concept. And even for the skeptic, she sells the idea very well. She makes it a reasonable suggestion by firstly going through all the ways we try to cope with our stuff and how it affects us. Marie Kondo gets where we are coming from because she’s been there, too.
She recommends a method that is kind of intense. Something like this:
Take every dress you own out of you closet or anywhere else in the house you keep them. Seasonal, don’t fit, sentimental. Just get them all in one place. Pick up each one and see if it sparks joy. If it doesn’t, appreciate whatever place it had in your life in the past and get rid of it.
Wash, rinse, repeat with every area of your stuff including:
shirts, pants, shoes, boots, purses, linens, books, pictures, household bric-a-brac, dishes, cooking utensils, stuff in your bathroom cupboard, games, memorabilia, old papers, old computer cords, sports equipment and so on.
She suggests to take your time with this, like allow six months or so. At my phase of life, that’s pretty reasonable. I don’t have small children, I have a rec room away from the rest of the house where I can “dump and sort and look for sparks of joy.” That’s been fun, actually. It is, in fact, relaxing and enjoyable. However, most of my readers here have a few small children, are homeschooling, husband is working fast and furious – the families I’m speaking to are in the thick of life. And that’s a beautiful place to be. Usually space is at a premium, there is no child-safe space to sort, and no time or excess energy to do it anyway.
In a perfect world, this would be the ideal time to do it, and would make family life so much simpler with less stuff. And it would establish habits that would be so helpful in the years of raising a family. I would like to suggest that it would be possible in most cases if you arranged some sort of regular help to get the job done, like a mom or a friend who was in a different stage of life and make a plan. Get together weekly, give up your bedroom to the task, only take out as much as you can deal with in one afternoon.
Intense, yes. But worth the effort.
What she doesn’t address is how to actually keep your house clean. One gets the impression that if you get rid of all the things that don’t spark joy, the house practically cleans itself. Which is a surprising true assumption. Magic, really. However, there are still things that need doing and we are often short-changed in our formation and ability to get the things done.
Sink Reflections, on the other hand, specializes in helping you figure out how to get all the things done. Instead of a “throw your life completely upside down” approach, she has us learn, a little bit at a time, through mastery and gentle persistence, how to get it all done. She also helps us to pare down what we keep and encourages us to get rid of anything that isn’t useful or brings us joy. She teaches us how to live life joyfully and to know what matters most. Not our stuff, not getting rid of it, not a pristine home, but our relationships with others. And our stuff plays into that.
My recommendation: READ BOTH BOOKS. If you can’t do the intense getting-rid-of-all-the-crap approach, because of little kids, or no help or exhausted, or whatever reason, then apply the ideas from Marie Kondo to the slow and steady approach of Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley. Even if you do have the resources to Marie Kondo your life right now, you’ll need some resources to clean and care for what you have left…
Two lovely books, that work together well.
Sink Reflections shows you how to get rid of stuff you don’t need or love, how to keep your home pleasing. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up takes the “getting rid of” to a radical new level. A great place to start, or a great place to arrive at later, too. Both authors will make us feel understood, listened to. Both arrive at their somewhat different points of view with full empathy for the reader and what we are going through. We feel loved and cared for – encouraged.
That’s a lot of time, energy, peace and joy for the rest of your life for 30 or 40 bucks.