Home & Cleaning, KonMommy Decluttering, The Mission, The Momma

DomesticGoddess X KonMari

I’m baaaaaaaack! And I’m ready to launch my newest challenge yet: DomesticGoddess  X  KonMari = KonMommy!

Family and friends have always known that I have obsessive-compulsive tendencies when it comes to organizing and keeping things in order. As a child, I got into fights with my siblings and got scolded by my parents when I prohibited the entire family from sitting on my bed because my covers would get creased. 

This is all that’s left of my 17 years of my life as a student: a small cabinet of documents at my parents’ garage.

My younger sister and I shared a bedroom. Before I can start studying for exams, I always had a compelling need to organize my side of the room: all my books and things on my desk, clothes in my dresser cabinet, and contents of my bed drawers organized. Only after completing this task will I then start my ritual of checking the course outline, my notes (which were written meticulously and neatly), handouts, and the reference book. This has been my study system since grade school up until I was studying in the university. It was only at this level of order that my mind can truly focus on the subject at hand. I aced a lot of exams with this ritual and graduated with honors, eventually graduating at the top of my class in college.

Tidying to me meant having a place for everything. Once everything has a place, I felt empowered, creative, focused, and unstoppable. My parents were supportive of my organizing and back in the 90’s when I was still a teenager, they even allowed me to design all the built-in wardrobe cabinets and drawers for all the 3 bedrooms in our home, and also the hallway bookshelf. They had a carpenter build it and it’s still functional and amazing. This was before there was internet and Pinterest. And waaaaay before I was introduced to IKEA and home design magazines! Armed with just sheets of paper, a pencil, and a ruler, I drafted the design and carefully measured the dimensions and space needed for the things I have identified that needed a specific place to be stored.

Before we had internet in the 90s, I already had my own design ideas for organization and storage. This is one of the floor-to-ceiling His & Hers wardrobe cabinet I designed for our home when I was a teenager. My parents commissioned a carpenter to execute my design.

I brought this obsessive quirk with me when I started working. I could only focus on writing my month-end sales report after I have organized my apartment, cleaned my bathroom, had my car washed, recorded expense receipts, read through all the emails, classified digital photos, and filed away all paper documents. I had neat and well-labeled binders for all my account assignments.

I had a document binder for each account assignment. I’ve discarded all of these, 4 years after I left my job.

It was easy enough dealing with only my things and my space. I always made it personal principle to organize only my things, and make discarding decision only for my things. If an object wasn’t mine, I accorded its owner the respect of deciding its fate. This is how I’d also like my things to be treated as well. Making the decision to keep or discard gives me a sense of closure. But now that I have my own family and kids, it’s getting harder to organize and find storage for our things. We’ve moved from a 1-bedroom split level apartment with 3 built-in wardrobes and 4 upper kitchen cabinets, then to a 2-storey 3-bedroom townhouse with 3 walk-in closets that probably totalled 8 wardrobe cabinets, and a 3-meter galley kitchen that had upper and lower cabinets on both sides. But the amount of stuff kept growing. I have 25 years-worth of children’s clothing, shoes, bags, and TOYS if I add their ages together. I have a lot of baby furniture. I currently have 18 years combined of kids’ school papers, books, notebooks, and artworks. And I currently have a 5-year accounting backlog for all our expenses and digital photo organization. With 4 humans against just 1 me, I cannot keep up with organizing and storing all the things that are piling up in our home. Add to it that we have been so hands-on with our #FixerUpperPH home renovation that required our focus and attention for 18 months, there was no pause to deal with the clutter. All I could do was make sure we had all the space we will need in our new home. After the exhausting #BigMove2018, I decided to use the rest of the year to recover a live like a sloth. Sleep. Eat. Repeat.

These are (some) of my clothes’ cabinets in the townhouse we moved into in 2011. This is identical to how I organized my clothes back when I was in high school. Identical hangers, neatly folded shirts, and folded underwear stacked vertically in drawers, divided by cardboard cutouts.

And sooooooo… I have come to a decision that 2019 will be my Year of Change and I will conquer the biggest distraction to me: CLUTTER & CHAOS. As odd as it may sound to a lot of people, organizing is very cathartic for me. It’s cleansing and refreshing. It moves me forward. It clears my head and gives me a sense of inner peace.

My sister has been bugging me for the last few years to read Marie Kondo’s book so I can get my shizzz together. I’ve read about the KonMari method of folding and I’ve seen snippets of her videos, and I have mistakenly thought that was all there is to her method. I had the impression that the concept of “Sparking Joy” seems overrated, without truly understanding it. Having no mental space for decluttering, I arrogantly dismissed the information, and I told my sister that I have been folding like Marie Kondo since I was a teenager. My entire family knows that’s how I fold clothes in drawers and how I stack things inside drawers: all standing up. I like making everything visible and I have designed my organization systems with this principle for over 2 decades already. I color-code people’s hangers, file documents in folders and binders, and essentially designate a spot for everything. I don’t use mismatched boxes like her, but instead I prefer symmetrical and identical storage or sometimes just clean, old folders that I cut up and use as dividers. But the organized life I used to have is now just a memory.

However, the knowledge that behind the closed doors of our #FixerUpperPH’s 15-sqm Storage Room is a clutter mountain drives me INSANE. I cannot focus, and most of the time I feel like I’m suffocating from the accumulated stuff around me. EVEN WHEN I DON’T SEE IT. Don’t get me wrong, I have no issues discarding things that are broken and have lost its usefulness. But just blindly chucking stuff out stresses me out more because there is no closure for me. And since we DID NOT pack our stuff properly during the move, it means that the important things I’ve been searching for is possibly lost in that clutter mountain.

The accumulated clutter and chaos of the last 5 years have now caught up to me. And it was just perfect timing that my Dad shared with me at the very beginning of 2019 Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Nagisa Tatsumi’s  The Art of Discarding. And so I just devoured the 2 books!

I was profoundly amused (and at times be like a crazy person laughing on my own) at how much I related to Marie Kondo’s personal discoveries and her obsession for tidying. And just like her, my eureka moment as I read her book was her discovery of DISCARDING as the primary and essential part of EFFECTIVE TIDYING. This is when I have come to realize that I am what she refers to as a STORAGE EXPERT. I am always hunting for storage containers to match what I have in mind. My favorite places to shop were bookstores and hardware shops. I also realized that I did not discard things that were not broken (even if I never used it, because SOMEDAY, I might) and I felt guilty about discarding things that were given to me. Everything that my kids touched, I consider sentimental. I kept all these things organized and tidy (or at least I used to), thus I feel that who I have been is a TIDY STORAGE EXPERT HOARDER. And changing this would be the biggest intervention to clear the cobwebs in my head and breathe life to our new home.

So wish me luck and stay tuned as I launch into this year’s collab project: 
DomesticGoddess  X  KonMari = KonMommy! 😉


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