Senior Scoop: Finding joy through decluttering

Pamela Kirkby

As we spend more and more time in our homes, we may begin to look around and realize that it’s time to downsize, upsize, or make some changes to the home. Regardless of what the plan is, the first thing to do is pare down and declutter. Don’t know where to begin? Consider reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, who developed the KonMari method of home decluttering.

Kondo’s book entails tidying by category rather than by location and the approach also encourages people to ask whether an object “sparks joy”— in order to determine whether to keep or toss something. Only necessities and things that bring a sense of comfort, elation, delight get to stay. Everything else gets donated, sold, or discarded.

There are a number of KonMari-certified consultants who offer ways to declutter. One Chicago-based consultant, Kristyn Ivey, has many podcasts and blogs which detail opportunities to rethink the approach to decluttering.

According to her website, For the Love of Tidy (www.fortheloveoftidy.com), Ivey, who provides both in-person and virtual consulting, asks clients to develop a detailed vision of their ideal living environment. She explores their wishes through a series of questions and statements, including:

How would your life change if your home were clutter-free?

Keeping your ideal lifestyle in mind, walk through a perfect day in your life.

Pretend you've reached the end of your KonMari Tidying Journey. Describe in detail how you envision your home will look and feel post tidy.

Taking this approach, you can rely on your own written vision throughout the tidying process, especially when motivation is flagging or indecision about letting go of objects creeps in.

Clutter affects more than the physical environment. It creates anxiety and stress, and wastes time and money. According to Pixie’s 2017 “Lost & Found Survey," people spend 2.5 days per year looking for lost objects – keys, glasses, the TV remote, and so forth. It also found that Americans collectively spend $2.7 billion each year replacing missing items. Wow!

One way to motivate yourself to tidy is by tallying the cost of unused clothes, unloved decorative objects, and bursting organizational bins. Many people spend countless dollars on off-site storage, but is that necessary?

People who declutter often find space to store the absolute necessities and therefore save money on storage; and others have found hundreds of dollars' worth of unworn clothing that could either be returned or donated. Donating clothes and household items not only benefits others, but the donator benefits from a nice tax write-off—just keep the receipts and keep a log of what has been donated. The Good Will and the Salvation Army both have valuation guides on their websites.

While this topic is so extremely difficult to approach, it is nevertheless irresponsible to ignore. Will you be passing on joy, or a burden of clutter to heirs?

Talk with your family about what you’re planning to leave to them and discuss their wishes. Sometimes people keep items because they think a child wants them, only to discover that an object doesn’t fit that child’s décor, or it’s just unwelcome. It’s best for everyone to be open about who wants what. That way, kids don’t live with guilt about not taking family treasures, and seniors can get rid of unwanted things and make space for something that’s more meaningful to them.

If you’re rethinking your housing choices – downsizing, moving across the country for a lifestyle change, or looking to assisted living – start looking at your things analytically. Using the KonMari method, think of which items are essential and spark the highest level of joy in order to keep. What will you bring with you, no matter where you move?

Still, discarding a lifetime of possessions is emotional. But by viewing the purge with anticipation of a new life and with gratitude for a fresh adventure, you can ease the sense of loss.

If staying put, why not tidy now? So often, people declutter, renovate, and redecorate only when it’s time to move. Don’t wait to take control of your environment and make your living space enjoyable, do it now! This falls into the “life’s too short” mindset: use the fancy china and the good silver, burn the candles, and don’t postpone joy!

For the Love of Tidy (www.fortheloveoftidy.com) – Learn about Ivey’s services, and her podcasts, blog, and tidying resources.

KonMari (https://konmari.com) – Marie Kondo provides tips, challenges, and products related to her brand.

KonMari Consultants (https://consultant.konmari.com/#/consultants) – Locate KonMari consultants in the U.S., Canada, and around the globe.

Pam Kirkby lives in Branford with her husband and children. She is a realtor with William Raveis Real Estate and serves all age groups and areas, but has a special affinity to seniors and has a Seniors Real Estate Specialist designation. Her website is: PamelaKirkby.raveis.com; and email is: pamela.kirkby@raveis.com.

Connecticut Media Group