Decluttering, part one

My decluttering plans aren't particularly original. I'm simply joining the throngs of other Americans determined to get rid of their excess stuff and enjoy the rewards of a more organized and pleasant home. There is no shortage of advice - in the form of articles, blog posts, television segments, you name it - about tackling this daunting project. 

I wouldn't say discarding unused items is particularly difficult for me, although I have a few weak spots: I tend to keep clothes that, if I'm honest with myself, I won't wear again, and that goes for shoes and handbags, too. I get a little sentimental about the kids' toys and their clothes, because I think about the people who gave them as presents, and specific times they wore this or that. But I can get past it, and passing on loved, quality items to someone we know, rather than donating them, helps.

Paper items are not a problem. I could easily scale down the kids' artwork (so much artwork) as it comes through the door each day, but I know J likes to go through it more carefully, so I don't. I'd throw away bills and most other paperwork on the spot, too, but he wouldn't like that. J's gotten so much better, though. I think even he would admit that he used to keep a good deal of useless things around, but has turned a corner and is lately purging stuff with glee. 

The problem, at this point in our lives, isn't the desire to keep everything, and it's definitely not that we purchase lots of material things. It's that children in particular bring a multitude of items into the home on a nearly daily basis (goody bags and paintings and indefinable knick knacks, like the purple, fabric flower that Nora had tucked into her dress yesterday when I picked her up, a treasured gift from a dear friend) and it's hard to find the time to dispose of it. 

It's the time. It's the stuff coming into our house vs. hours we have to deal with that stuff. If I was ruthless, I'd grab my kids' backpacks and deal with it that very afternoon, every day, without fail. But I'm not ruthless. And I'm also a little worn down in the afternoons. That combination means I almost never deal with that issue on the spot.

The rest of my daytime hours are simply very precious lately. I hate even typing this lame and soul crushing statement but...we have a lot of domestic chores. Repeated acts like filling and emptying the dishwasher, laundry and ensuring everyone, including our now-mobile and insatiable nine-month old, eats three times a day. There are the dogs, that need to be walked and given expensive medications in tricky ways and cleaned up after, which would be much easier if Cecilia relieved herself in a more manageable fashion, and not in, like, 17 different spots, requiring you to follow her around with a plastic bag for about ten minutes.

The point being that when I do have a few hours to spare, I try to write, or maybe pitch an article idea to someone. Sometimes I catch up on "Game of Thrones." But I don't generally tackle a decluttering project. 

This summer, though, I want to tackle them all. I really do. 

To speed this effort along, J brought home this book the other day: 

This book has certainly gotten it's fair share of public love and I'd read a fair amount about Marie Kondo and her intense style of decluttering before he bought it.

I'd even tried out her method in the kids' room; I dumped all of their clothes on the floor - all of them - creating a pile that extended higher than their beds. Then I put back only the items that made me happy. As silly as this sounds, it's very fulfilling in practice. I stored the winter items that would still fit next year and packed girls' clothes that were now too small for Nora in labeled bins in the basement. I ended up with several bags to donate. The closet was immediately far less packed and far more accessible. Their drawers were no longer filled to the brim. 

I immediately wanted to do this in the rest of the house but I had to calm myself down. Decluttering is a great feeling when you have the time for it. But when you get overzealous and you suddenly realize you have a minute until you're scheduled to be picking your child up from preschool, it backfires. 

That's why I haven't opened up this magical book yet. I know I'm going to get very excited and want to plunge right in without forethought or planning, which are not my strong suits. So I'm trying to approach this whole project in a reasonable way, which I think Ms. Kondo would appreciate. 

Also, in an effort to take inspiration from the general public, I'd like to know your decluttering tips, dear six or seven readers? How do you do it? Do you do it? Is it worth it? What sort of cocktail do you make after you try and declutter and then you get sidelined and the whole thing is an utter failure? What types of storage bins do you use? And what do you have the hardest time letting go of?