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Why the Kondo decluttering method didn't work for me, and what worked instead

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living room interior - why the KonMari decluttering method did not work for me

Are you overwhelmed with a busy family life and never enough time to declutter? I can relate. One weekend, I started decluttering. Even though I'm pretty good about periodically donating unwanted gently used items, I still had extra clutter.

So I decided to get some guidance by reading a book. My first thought was the KonMarie method, but I only got a tiny way into the e-book before I decided that while that method may suit a lot of other people, it probably wasn't going to work for me. Yes, I know I was hasty to judge the book after literally 1 or 2 pages, but I wanted to declutter while I still had the momentum to do it, and I didn't want to get to the end of the book before deciding if it would or wouldn't work. What bugged me is the idea that if something doesn't "spark joy" we should get rid of it. OK, what about tax paperwork? It doesn't spark any joy for me, but I know I need to keep the most recent years of those. So what's her method for dealing with those boring-but-necessary things? Make exceptions for each of those? In that case, where do we draw the line? Would I be at risk of making an exception for everything? I can't answer the questions of how she handles that, because I didn't read far enough into the book. I know that the Kondo, or KonMari method, has helped lots of other people, but I couldn't see it helping me personally.

Instead, I decided to go for the book Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K. White.

This turned out to suit me really well. Dana White explains things simply and sensibly, but with plenty of thought and intelligence. The book is written just like it's a friend talking, so it's super-easy and fun. Her method suited me down to the ground. It really helped. And it's a decluttering book, which encourages you to get rid of things you don't use. It's not a home organization book.

I didn't want to add storage containers into to my home, I wanted to get rid of stuff!

The bonus to getting rid of stuff, as Dana White points out, is then it's not there anymore! Even if a bit of clutter comes back, it'll be much faster to clean up next time, because you don't have those items you gave away.

Dana White has a family of her own, so she relates to how it is with young kids and the way it's so easy to get clutter from outgrown clothes and toys. In fact, she even devotes a chapter to decluttering children's areas and suggests a few different (but easy) strategies for you and your child to get their bedroom or play area decluttered.

The good news:

  • It didn't take as long as I thought. This is something she said to expect, but it was nice to see it come true!
  • I didn't have as much clutter as I thought I did.
  • I threw out an entire large trash sack of trash (broken items, old bits of paper, etc).
  • I took an entire trunk-load-and-a-half of gently used items to donate to charity. And it was fast - I was not working on it all day.
  • Her method is simple and straightforward. You don't have to do much thinking, and there's no agonizing over things. It was surprisingly easy when I followed the questions she posed.

The bad news:

  • I didn't complete it all in one weekend since I didn't get to every area. This didn't surprise me as I figured it would take longer than a weekend. I felt happy knowing subsequent times will be easier because there's not much clutter coming back in the meantime, since those original items are now gone.


Dana White recommends putting unneeded items to donate in a Donate Box, and always having the Donate Box available. I would change that slightly. If, miraculously, besides getting rid of your own things, you have managed to get your kids and spouse to identify things they no longer want, bag up those items immediately. Then close or tie the bags then and there, and immediately put the bags in the trunk and take them to the charity place to donate. (Or if the charity place is closed, then leave them in the trunk and take the items tomorrow when it's open).

The reason you should never leave things in an open Donate Box in your home is that then, yes you guessed it, your kids will get into the Donate Box and pull items out and then you're back to where you started. At least, that is what would happen with my kids.

Also, she is correct when she says any amount of time is good for decluttering, whether it's 5 minutes or 30 minutes. You don't have to wait for the "perfect time" when there's nothing else going on - who even has that anyway?! I was surprised and impressed at how much I could do without putting all day into it. If I can do it, you can too!

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