Tuesday, July 7, 2015

decluttering homeschool materials I

Summer has been coming along.  Jack (5.5) had a week of camp that he liked. He slowed down on reading a bit; he is over 60 lessons through 100 Easy Lessons and no longer asks to do it every night.  According to unschooling principles, he will do it when he is interested in improving his skills.  Elazar (8) is going to camp in the afternoons, skipping the morning (davening/learning).  Chana and I are enjoying chemistry in the morning and continuing with Sefer Devarim at other times in the day.  She also takes Japanese and violin.  I have a meeting next week with the principal to discuss what classes she'll be taking in the high school I teach at.

Yesterday, I finally got up the stamina to konmari my clothing.  It's a method of decluttering.  I have been fighting the tendency to hoard for over a decade, and I think I really turned a corner when I hired organizers before Aharon was born (about 5 years ago).  I learned things like "things shouldn't fall out when you open the door."  Perhaps that's obvious.  I still haven't quite gotten the hang of "when you look, be able to see at a glance everything that is there."

One of the things I thought was that decluttering is a constant process.  Like being tidy or being neat or being clean (none of which things I am, especially), it needs constant vigilance and work.  I learned a lot from flylady, but she has morning routines and evening routines and daily routines and weekly routines.  It has been a constant struggle to get myself into habits of daily straightening.  Or even to figure out what daily straightening looks like.

A big piece is decluttering.  The fewer objects there are, the easier it is to clean up.  Things are less overwhelming.  I have embraced decluttering (though I'm not very good at it yet) and the principles of minimalism.

I began to understand that decluttering and tidying have the same problem.  You have to always be doing them.  I'd rather sit down and relax or read.  People who are tidy are often doing a bit of tidying.  I'm chilling instead.

But then konmari's book says that if you do her method once and thoroughly, you never go back.  You don't revert.  You don't need to declutter every few months.  You do it all and are so swept away with the joy of
a) being surrounded only by things that you love and spark joy and
b) the extremely easy way to put everything away because there aren't so many things and it is obvious where they go and simple to put them there
that you never go back.

Intriguing.  Can you imagine Pesach cleaning in that type of situation?  Can you imagine living like that?

But implementing it is challenging.  All sorts of psychological issues crop up.  What is emotionally preventing me from removing things in my life that don't spark joy?

I did clothing yesterday.  I cheated and put some of the clothing that I wear to work but don't spark joy in the back of my closet.  If I get through September and October and don't use them, then hopefully I'll be able to let them go.

After I did it, I asked myself questions such as:
Why do I have the boys' summer clothing in two bins, when I also have two dressers for them?  And why do I have a third bin with future winter clothes?  What in the WORLD can possibly be in those two dressers?

(Don't get me wrong.  I adore the simplicity of bins.  Wash the clothes and dump them in the bins.  T-shirts and shorts for Elazar in one bin, and for Jack and Aharon in the other.  No folding.  If they dump it, very easy to cleanup.  So then the question is what are the dressers for?  Storing things I don't use???)

After clothing comes books in the konmari method.  And this gets me back to one of my conflicts about homeschooling and decluttering.

But it's time to wake up Chana and do chemistry.  I'll write part II later.


  1. I always wonder: do these methods take into account kids? Real life breathing kids? Kids who could care less about your one skirt that sparks joy and ruin it with spit-up/vomit/ketchup and then you regret not having two skirts, now that this one is ruined?
    How about kids who routinely misplace things, so you are always buying (or looking around for ) a spare because the original is in some place that you will not find?
    How about kids who insist that you need to save their drawings/fuze beads/projects that are huge, messy, take up a lot of space?
    And how does this work with people who fluctuate in clothing size? I did a thorough closet revamp with a help of a merciless fashion-consciuos friend only to end up pregnant and currently unable to fit into any of those "joyful" clothes.
    I saw a quote somewhere how minimalistic living works when you have a lot of money. Then you can let go of things easily because you can replace them just as easily (and discard when no longer needed). Emotional pain comes from frugality.

    1. If minimalism doesn't appeal, then don't do it. For me, the dream of not having a lot of things to put away is very appealing. I don't think we would lose as many things (there isn't so much to look through and you can see at a glance what there is), and I think we would learn that we can live with a lot less than I think. I did the konmari clothing method and I did take into account my lifestyle. I have 2 drawers with clothing that is kid friendly: soft fabrics that bring me joy and wash easily. I have enough to bring me from laundry to laundry (imagine having so few things that putting away laundry wasn't overwhelming).
      For children who insist on having whatever they are insisting, again I feel like I provide the framework. If they can only have what fits into X space and then they have to make decisions, then they make decisions. This is probably useful in life. If I don't have that many things in the house, then having messy huge things isn't as big a deal because it is much more manageable to deal with them.
      The fluctuating clothing size I haven't thought about. I guess that in theory if a person has 5 bottoms and 5 tops (that one can be selective about) (and I'm being generous; I really think it can most likely be done with 3 each and 2 shabbos clothes) one can do it frugally and comfortably and have fluctuations. My maternity wardrobe was really quite small-- 3 skirts and 5 or so tops and a couple of dresses (and different pregnancies called for different sized seasons) and I managed.
      If you find that frugality causes emotional pain, then don't do it. For years, I could not deal with dishes and I used paper and plastic. I felt that was the best decision.
      I personally find that frugality means we spend less money and minimalism means we learn to live with less (and thus spend even less money) and I spend far less time coping with a painful and overwhelming living space situation.