Sunday, January 4, 2015

Decluttering 2015.

I made a Facebook post yesterday about a wonderful book I have just finished and the impact this book has had on my home so far.  I have cleared out over 20 big tubs of clutter in the last two weeks.

The book I read is called "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing" by Marie Kondo.  

I would highly recommend purchasing it on Amazon for yourself, because obviously, she's the best-selling author...not me.

However, I'll give you a synopsis, in case you'd like to get started right away!

This young woman named Marie Kondo (a famous professional organizer in Japan) has come up with a method of decluttering and organizing that she calls the "KonMari" method (a combo of her two names).

It. Is. Incredible.

You guys.


Everything she says in this book is the opposite of how I've always been told to do it.

I have books......  
and books and books...
and more books about organizing and housekeeping and being a better home manager.

This is obviously a struggle for me.

All of these books have the same advice.

- Break it up into chunks.
- Go room by room.
- Do a small part of your house every day.
- Buy a storage system that works for you.
- Don't try to do everything at'll get overwhelmed and quit.
- Get rid of one item every time you bring a new item into the house.
- It's all about the binders...the office supplies...the HIGHLIGHTERS!

Okay, I added that last one, but surely some of you can relate to me there!!!


I have tried to declutter and keep a clean house using these methods and, let's be honest, IT DOESN'T WORK.

Kondo gives reasons that these things don't work and it makes SO MUCH SENSE.

If you break it up into chunks or do a small part of your house every day, you will be decluttering for the rest of your life.  You will get one room decluttered and by the time it's all neat and tidy, the room you did last week will be a mess again.  It's a vicious cycle.

If you spend dollars on intricate storage systems to try and "organize" unnecessary clutter, you're not only wasting dollars, but space in your home.

She says that a formula, such as "getting rid of one item when you bring one new item in" isn't really practical and will actually limit the number of items you get rid of.

Kondo tells her clients to do a "special event tidy", all at once.  Go big or go home!

She didn't really say much about the office supply problem, but come on...I know some of you are right there with me at Target being drawn to the office supply aisle EVERY SINGLE TIME.


Like I said, I definitely recommend that you read Kondo's book, but here are some steps to get you started.

1. Write up a "vision" for how you picture your life after you've decluttered your home and have it exactly how you want...a sancutary of sorts.  

My vision of life involves being able to spend more time with my husband and children, relaxing in our home, and time to work on being a better teacher and building my photography business in a way that will help my family without taking moments away from them.

2. Add the "why" factor to your vision.  

My "why" factor includes serving my husband and being able to provide a peaceful home for him, giving the girls memories to look back on as they mature, and teaching them how to not allow the "stuff" of life to clutter their minds and hearts.

3. Start discarding.  

This is the real deal.  The big dance.  The life-changing moment that you've all been waiting for.

Kondo says to sort and discard by categories, starting with your own clothing.

She recommends starting with shirts.  Get all of your shirts in the house and put them on your bed.  Get shirts from the dirty clothes, from the closets, from your drawers, and from anywhere else you store them.

Pick up each shirt and say, "Does this shirt spark joy?"  If it does, great!  If not, into the "get rid of" pile it goes.  This could be a donate tub, a garage sale tub, or a trash tub.  Wherever you choose to put it, do it right away!

Go through each category of clothing like this.

Shirts, pants, hang-up clothes, seasonal clothing, accessories, bags/purses, socks, underwear, etc.  
Make a list and stick to the list.  

4. Clean and put back.

Once you've discarded your unwanted shirts, decide where you will store them.  The KonMari method includes lots of great tips for folding your clothes in a way to keep them nicer for longer (check out YouTube to see these in action!).  

Clean the space you're going to put these shirts and put them back nicely and neatly.

Every time you do laundry from here on out, you'll know RIGHT where the clothes go.  Make a space and keep it!

5. Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.

After you do the clothes, move on to another category...books.  Find all the books in the house and go through the same process, asking yourself, "Does this spark joy?"  If it doesn't...out it goes!  If it's something that you "think you'll read later'...out it goes! 

After books, move to paper, then to CD's & DVD's, then to skin care products, makeup, valuables, electrical equipment, etc.  You can make up a category list based on your own home.  

Think of a category, collect all the items that fit into that category, and ask yourself, "Does this spark joy?"  

It is much more effective to decide what DOES spark joy and what you WANT to keep, than it is to decide what to part with.

So try it out.  See what you think.  It is rather addicting once you get started!

If you need more convincing, or for more motivation and detailed inspiration...check out Marie Kondo's book!  

I'd love to hear your thoughts and about your decluttering progress in the comment sections! 

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Ah.  There is something so fresh and new about that word.  


It's a chance to start over.  A chance to make a "new you".  A chance to move past the things of the previous year and set some goals for yourself.

I have had 30 years of Januarys now.  Well...about 25 or so that I can actually recall.

Starting somewhere in high school, I started to set New Year's Resolutions for myself.  I would stick to a few and not stick to others.

Each year, though, one thing never changed.  I set too many resolutions and some of them weren't attainable at all.  

And are my 2015 goals.  

Simplify our belongings.
Become healthier.
Get better at paperwork.
Focus on frugality.
Blog more often.
Be more like Jesus.

Here's the deal.  

2014 was a year of BIG changes for the Newkirks.  

We welcomed baby #3 into the family.
I cut back on my photography business.
I changed my teaching job description by departmentalizing.
I lost 15 pounds.

These things were great for us.  However, these things also came with some transitional bumps in the road.  

Mattie was born on June 11th.  I had about 2 weeks off school before she was born and I used that time to clean and organize the house (with lots of help, as I was not very comfortable!).  We kept it really clean until school started.

When my teaching partner and I decided to departmentalize, I was thrilled.  However, it was a whole new ballgame for both of us and we are still learning.  Due to these big changes in my job, I slacked big time on the housework.  I stayed late at school, worked on lesson plans at home, ate out way too often, and quite frankly, kind of stunk at being a wife and mom.

My photography business had already been cut down significantly, in March of 2014, due to the impending arrival of Baby M.  However, after she was here, I realized how much I would miss photography if I cut it out completely.  And so, I started to work some sessions back into my schedule.  In 2015, I'm going to continue to work sessions into my schedule, using a year-long plan that I will reveal with all the juicy details next week.

Having a baby and cutting down on the photography sessions I was doing also really affected us financially.  We have insurance and therefore were charged some astronomical fees by the hospital.  In fact, we are still paying on these bills (the last payment will be THIS MONTH...thank you, Jesus!!!).  This was a big chunk of change out of our budget every month.  Add these payments to the fact that I wasn't cooking at home, and let's just say we had to put the debt snowball on hold for the last few months of 2014.  

This had it's added benefits, as I was FORCED to cook at home in November and December.  In fact, by cooking weight watchers meals at home, I actually stuck to my Weight Watchers plan and I have lost over 15 pounds since August.  I call it the "I can't afford food, so I just won't eat very much" diet.

2014 was a great year.
2014 was a difficult year.
2014 was a beautiful year.

We had some growing pains.  We had some heartache.  We made lots of memories.

I'm looking forward to 2015 and can't wait to share progress on my New Year's resolutions as the year progresses.

Thanks so much for sticking by my side through these last few years, even though I'm the worst blogger ever.

I appreciate each one of you.

Happy 2015!