Decluttering the KonMarie way – It works!

I’ve been trying to declutter for months.

No, more like years.

I tell my kids not to horde their stuff, and we spring clean every year-end. They don’t have a problem with letting go and pass on their clothes, bags, toys and whatnots to their younger siblings or cousins.

For me, I allocate time to clear out 1 cupboard or shelf at a time but end up getting rid of a miserable 10% and repacking (more like reshuffling) the rest. Of course, everything falls into a huge mess almost as quickly as it took me to put them in order and I feel so defeated I give up soon after, and leave it till the next year.

After hearing so much about the KonMarie method, I was skeptical but decided to give it a go without much expectations of success.

And the verdict is, it works!

Hang some, fold some

Start with clothes. As instructed, I attacked my wardrobe first. The big difference is, instead of clearing by location, we are supposed to clear by category.

This meant taking every single piece of clothing from all parts of your house and dumping it in one place. By the time I finished emptying out my 3 closets and giving it a nice wipe, I was ready to head down for some ice-cream and call it quits.

But the rules read: Do it as quickly and completely as possible.

No turning back. I mustered up all my energy and set my mind to tackle the mountain of clothes on the floor.

Yup, the declutter guru is right. It does give your system a shock to see how much clothes you have, and how much you don’t actually wear because it’s shoved so deep in the depths of your closet that it has almost disappeared into a black hole.

Showing the ugly side of things…

Embarrassing reality

That’s what happens when the mess starts, and you are too busy to maintain anything in order and it goes downhill from there.

Excuses, excuses!

When we moved to our new place, I asked the hubs for ample closets which he acceded to. What I found out however, was that no matter how much storage you have, your possessions will increase to fill all that extra space!

Does it spark joy? One main criteria that Marie Kondo proposed, was asking ourselves if the item sparked joy.

What kind of packing criteria was that even? However, it does make so much sense. To be surrounded only by things which make you happy and bring delight to your days. The only exception she makes is if the item is a necessity, you can keep it even though it may not spark joy.

Well, I cheated a bit and did not run my hands over every single piece of clothing as much as I was supposed to do.

What I did was to take every piece in my hands, make a quick decision and either tossed it to the keep or remove pile, all the while bearing in mind if it sparked joy.

No space? Just pile

Guess what?

I managed to pare it down to about 60% of the original volume! Achievement.

The trick for me seems to be not allowing myself to dwell on each piece. My past attempts have proved futile because with every item, I would try to decide if I would wear it again, lament about how much I spent buying it, or perhaps one of my teenagers would want to take it over soon, and most ended up in the keep pile.

This time, with this take and toss method, with “Does it spark joy?” running repeatedly in my head, I managed to go through the giant pile in less than 2 hours!

I decided what needed to be hung (jackets and work blouses) and folded the rest in the extraordinary KonMarie way, where they were supposed to stand, once folded properly.

Interestingly, this way of displaying a portion of my clothes allowed me to see at one glance every single item I owned, which made getting ready in the mornings a breeze.

Kate was eyeing my wardrobe, wondering why it looks different. I asked her if she would like her clothes folded in this special way and she said yes.

This was her drawer before, which was full, and I invited her to go through her clothes and decide if she was ready to hand any down to her younger cousins.

She flipped through them one by one and got rid of 70% of her clothes in less than 10 minutes! I was astounded how kids have a natural ability to declutter! I asked her a few times if she was sure, and she firmly said Yes. I didn’t dare open her dress closet for fear she would throw out most everything as well, which would leave her with barely enough to wear when we needed to go out!

I quietly hid the clothes she discarded in another cupboard (just in case she kicked up a fuss for a favourite piece later on) but it’s been more than a week and she seems to have totally put them out of her mind.

So much to learn from kids. It’s me who’s been having attachment issues!

Kate’s minimalist drawer

The next day, I was so inspired by my brand new ultra tidy wardrobe, I moved on to my shawls. Previously, I stacked them in 2 piles on the shelf but it becomes untidy really quickly even if I lift them carefully to retrieve those from the bottom of the pile.

I decided to fold them and tried fitting them into a drawer and this idea worked perfectly! Not only can I quickly choose the right one to match my outfit, pulling one out does not mess the others in the pack.

Surprisingly, folding them this way also did not result in creases. As Marie Kondo explains in her book, it is not the folding which cause creases, but the weight which is put on it.
Shawl drawer

The last bit to tackle under my clothing category were my accessories and make-up. Again, I told myself not to dwell on it, and simply picked the items up one by one, make a quick decision if it was going to serve me well (or spark joy), and place under the keep or remove pile.

I threw out a whole lot of make-up that I hardly use (which is probably close to expiring) and decided not to buy anymore on impulse.

These see through pull-out boxes are from Muji and I love them because I can see everything in clear sight without pulling out every drawer to check what I wanted.

The fact that I can get dressed and ready to go in under 10 minutes keeps me motivated to maintain everything in order.

Finally, the bathroom. Kate showers in our bathroom and the counter gets over-run with odds and ends really quickly. The hubs empties his pockets before showering, and between the both of them, you can find anything between toys to receipts on our vanity counter.

Following the rules, I removed every single item onto the floor, gave it a good clean, and only replaced the necessities.
Our bathroom

After such success, I finally have the courage to attack Kate’s toys. She had acquired the older girls’ toys and I’ve been trying to give them some semblance of order by storing them in see-through boxes.

The last time I decluttered her toys was during our Chinese New Year spring clean, but I have to be more ruthless this time.

Toy storeroom

Over the past few years, I have been quite diligent in only keeping ‘good’ toys. These include construction toys such as blocks, open-ended toys, craft materials and games.

This time, I tried to abide by the “Does it spark Joy” method, and managed to put 30% to the ‘give away’ pile.

This has been my most successful declutter operation to date, and I shall take a break and tackle the other half of the house another time!

Toy shelf

There’s something else very interesting I discovered from the book. She mentioned that some of us have an urge to declutter when we are faced with deadlines. I have been doing that since I was a teenager! When faced with exams or assignments, I feel the need to de-clutter, but couldn’t understand why.

That’s what I have been experiencing these past few weeks. The more I’m feeling like I have so much to do with so little time, the more I feel I need to declutter my space.

I do feel calmer and more in control now that my environment is less cluttered.

Additionally, I have been able to practice more restraint when I’m out, and before buying an item, I will think of all the stuff I have thrown out and the piles on the floor, and will think twice about even buying a book.

Hope things stay this way.

Try it! Declutter and experience the magic.

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Dyson Pure Cool: 2-in-1 Purifier and Fan

I was pleased as punch when Dyson sent over their new 2-in-1 purifier and fan. Not only is it practical but it looks ultra sleek and is light-weight as well. This time round, we are definitely more prepared for the upcoming haze period.

Dyson Pure Cool

Two years ago when the haze situation was at it’s peak, we tried to stay indoors as much as possible. We mistakenly assumed that the air in our homes is clean, and was horrified to discover that it is not. In fact, levels of pollutants and allergens indoors can be up to 100 times higher than outdoor levels. Gasp!

I was comforted to know that Dyson Pure Cool can capture up to 99.95% of particles as small as PMO.1, which includes harmful components found in the air during the haze period.

If you are keen to understand the nuts and bolts of this machine, read on:

How Dyson Pure Cool technology works

Using powerful Air Multiplier™ technology and an energy-efficient DC motor, the Dyson Pure Cool purifier fan draws in air via a mixed flow impeller.

The air is passed through a patented 360° Glass HEPA filter, containing 1.1m2 of constructed microfibers. Unlike other purifiers that rely on non-woven filters, the Dyson Pure Cool’s filter has been pleated 254 times, meaning it can trap even the smallest particles – including pollutants, pollen, bacteria, viruses and particles down to PM0.1.

Clean air then leaves the amplifier loop at a high velocity and is directed over an airfoil-shaped ramp. This way, a long-range stream of smooth air is released, purifying the air you breathe.

Dyson Purifier and fan
For me, with so many kids running around the house, I can be rest-assured that none of them will get their fingers caught in the blades as it is a blade-less machine.

The Dyson Pure Cool purifier fan is the only one accredited with the Quiet Mark, which encourages the design of quieter high performance technology to reduce unwanted noise in our environment. We can all sleep as soundly as babies!

Did you know that babies breathe up to four times faster than adults? And that asthma affects nearly 20% of children in Singapore? It is vital to keep our homes safe for our families, especially for children and the elderly. With a built-in sleep timer, it allows for night-long purification.

The last round when the haze hit us, I bought an air purifier as Kate was still a baby. Since then, the bulky machine has been taking up a lot of space in their room. It’s great that the Dyson Pure Cool is streamlined, and also doubles up as a fan. Just to set your expectations right, don’t expect the fan power to be very strong. If you are too far away from it, you won’t be able to feel the breeze even when you turn it up to 10. I see this as an air purifier with the added bonus of doubling up as a fan and not vice versa.

Space saving

The other plus point is that while most other purifiers have a laborious filter changing and cleaning process, the Dyson filter can be changed in 4 simple steps which takes less than a minute. Brilliant.

Dyson Pure Cool is retailing at $999. Replacement filter at $79. Available in all good electrical and department stores.

Disclaimer: We were sponsored Dyson’s Pure Cool. All opinions are my own.

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Small Spaces: #5’s Play room

With 6 kids, this is how we house them. The 4 older girls share 2 rooms, and #5 has his own ‘lair’, as he likes to call it. During the school holidays, he ties bedsheets all around the room and turns it into his ‘fort’.

Kate is too young to need (or deserve) her own room, but #5 very generously shares his space with her. Anyway, he was so used to sleeping with us in our old place that he doesn’t quite dare to sleep by himself. So now, it serves as a play room for the both of them.

#5’s room

His study table was passed down from #3 when we moved, but he hardly uses it as he does his homework downstairs in the living room. These space-saving study tables were very useful for us previously as it allowed every child their own little station to keep their possessions.

See those little Lego guys? They were mostly bought by his doting grandpa. One day, a friend came over and mentioned that Lego is so expensive. One small box with one figurine costing $39. I was confused and told her that #5’s set came with 5 of them. She insisted that her son’s set only had one. In the end, we found out the truth from #5 that his gong gong bought him extra figurines but told him to pretend that they all came together. My friend was speechless. So was I.

His mosaic piece done in K1

I use the cupboards in #5’s room to store Kate’s extra craft and toys which I put away on rotation. Her other toys are downstairs in a corner of the living room where she spends most of her time.

The transparent boxes really help to make things easier and I can see at one glance where everything is. When we moved here, I asked the hubs to please, please build more cupboards. Their stuff was spilling all over the house in our previous place as the storage space couldn’t keep up with the number of kids being proliferated.

I like that there’s ample floor space for the kids to play and create. We lugged this rather heavy wooden castle set all the way back from Germany when the hubs and I went away without the kids.

“Is my tower going to fall?”

Another thing I requested the hubs to make was more shelving for books. That’s one of my weaknesses. I can’t resist buying books. These are the titles which the kids loved reading.

The colourful number chart was given by a friend who bought it, forgot about it for almost 10 years, and found it still brand new in time to pass down to Kate. Haha. What a lucky girl.

Built-in bookshelf

More often than not, #5 is bullying Kate or taking advantage of her (like using her for his nerf gun target practice) but sometimes he’s really good and helps me by reading her bedtime story.

Engrossed in gor gor’s story

And they usually end up in peals of laughter.

This post is part of Mum in the Making’s Small Spaces series. Click here for a peek into the homes of others with children.

Next up is Yann, from Bubsicles, whose humour in her writing never fails to lift my day. Yann is a mother to two little men who, unfortunately, believe strongly that sleep is for the weak. Therefore, she sleeps too little (for her liking) and drinks too much teh-si. She suffers from Acute Mother Guiltilitis and is also addicted to writing and photography.

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Family Command Centre

Obviously with 6 kids, there are a lot of logistics to handle on a daily basis. I have to be organized or it gets really stressful when things are left to the last minute. There were countless times when a child did not have the materials ready for the next day’s show and tell, they forget they had an excursion and we didn’t have the right ‘healthy’ snack for the lunchbox, or worse, they forgot they had a Math exam and forgot to tell me that their calculator had run out of batteries. Even when I had only 3 kids and had no proper system, I was going crazy. Now I’ve got the whole process down to a pat.

My Command Centre

I rely on these to keep things running smoothly:

Family Wall calendar
Weekly meal planner
Daily To-do list
Yearly pocket calendar
Some notebooks

I love kikki.k over at ion. They have lots of organisational tools to help us busy moms stay on top of things. Colour really brightens my day and all these pretty stationery helps to keep me motivated to get the boring paperwork and administrative work for the family under control.

#3 drew the cute lil’ minion

I needed a huge magnet board so I recycled #2’s old board by turning it around and using the back. We got this magnetic board from Ikea many years ago. There were 2 holes at the back which were meant for hanging the board up. I tied some rope across the top so that I could peg photos of the kids and keep them rotated. It always cheers me up to see them smiling. I got the magnets from Daiso and added some stickers to personalise them.

This family calendar is just perfect for me – it has 6 columns. I got it from Tango Mango at Tanglin Mall, and you can also order it directly from Organised Mums which ships to Singapore. Whenever the kids come back with notices from school, I immediately pen it down on the calendar before tagging it on the board. This way, I will never forget to pick up any kid after ad hoc activities and we’re always prepared for events like wearing traditional costumes for Racial harmony day etc.

Menu planner from kikki.K
Having a weekly meal planner is really a life saver. Before I had it, I would just mentally plan some meals in my head. There were many a time when I was busy and before I knew it, lunch (or dinner) was upon us and I had nothing prepared for the starving kids. We usually ended up eating out (expensive), getting take-away (waste of time and not nutritious especially if it was fast food), or cooking instant noodles (definitely not nutritious). Once you get the discipline of setting aside a fixed time to decide what you’re going to cook and going to the supermarket, it will become a family routine.

On Sundays, I look at the week ahead and mark off on the family calendar which kid is back for lunch on which days so that I can see at one glance how many kids will be eating and which ones. If all or most are eating, I will prepare those meals that they are all ok with. If 1 or 2 are back on a particular day, I can then cook that child’s favourite food.

To-do list from kikki.K
I really like this To-do list as it’s got ‘Top 3’ things to do. When I used to have those normal To-do lists which just runs down, I will get really frustrated if half of the list is undone. Now, if I get my 3 most important tasks accomplished and a couple of the others, I’m a happy mom. Talk about a shift in perception! There’s even some cute icons to let us track how many cups of water we drink a day. Anything that helps to keep us healthy gets my two thumbs up 🙂

Lovely notebooks from Prints at ion

Whenever I saw something interesting in the newspapers or on the internet that I would like to take the kids to some day, I used to tear out the bits of newspaper or scribble the info down on post-its. However when the school holidays or long weekends came about I couldn’t locate the info I wanted. So I got some lovely bounded notebooks from Prints at ion (they have a shelf with past season items at 50% off) and started a resource book where I categorized the stuff I did with the kids and jotted down the info as they came, straight into the right pages. That way, I would just open up the book and scan the options and we’ll decide where we wanted to go or what we wanted to do that day.

Mail stand from Typo
I use these giant paper clips to sort my mail. I got them from smiggle (they have many outlets). I will handle the urgent ones, and when I have free time I will file the rest away properly.

The little yearly calendar is to keep track of things like when I paid their enrichment fees, when I paid my helper, or any other info where I can easily flip back to track. We have a Chinese tutor who comes over to tutor my primary 5 girl and to read to the 5 of them (Kate included). With the calendar I would know how many sessions she has already done and when to pay her. I also get the tutor to sign on the calendar so that there’s never any dispute.

Handmade birthday calendar

#2 made this lovely birthday calendar for mother’s day a couple of years ago. It is really handy as I can look ahead in that month and note down which birthdays are coming up. I will then shop for the necessary presents all at one go. This saves time and money as nowadays a trip to the mall is really not cheap if you include petrol, ERP and the exorbitant parking charges!

Gift cupboard

I also keep a cupboard stocked with presents suitable for a range of ages so that whenever the kids get invited to a birthday party I don’t have to make a trip to the shops just to get a present. I usually stock up my gift cupboard during the bi-annual private sales at Isetan or Robinsons as they have good discounts then. For the younger girls I get craft, playdoh or dress up/jewellery type gifts, for the older girls stuff like board games or DIY activity sets. For the younger boys, construction toys and for the older boys, science experiment sets.

Sane tip: With 6 kids, being organised is not an option, it’s mandatory!

Save tip: I realised that being organised helps to save a fair bit of money over the long run.

To know how we manage 6 kids, click here.

~ www.mummyweeblog – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~