Today we are going to KonMari our lives by identifying opportunities to declutter our schedules, and make more time for the things that spark joy in our lives. Tidying Up with Marie Kondo has taken the world by storm, and 2019 started off with nearly every woman assessing every item in her home and deciding if it sparked joy. If it did, she kept it. If it didn’t, she discarded it.
Psychological benefits of striving for simplicity include feeling lighter, reduced anxiety and overwhelm. So many moms feel like their lives are overwhelmingly busy. Our schedules are filled with extracurricular activities, kids sports, PTA meetings, church groups, family friendly events, visits with friends, family dinners, information evenings, nights out for our partners, date nights with our partners, baby groups, play dates, kids clubs, and more. Never mind trying to fit in a yoga class or hair appointment for yourself!
If being on the go-go-go seems like a life sentence that you’ve received, and you feel stuck in this busy mom schedule, let’s apply The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up rules and #konmari the shit out of our lives!
5 Steps to a Simplified Schedule
Here are 5 steps to Konmari your schedule:
1. The Life Changing Magic of Visualizing Your Ideal Life
Marie Kondo recommends that before you begin to tidy up, you first need a vision for your ideal life and your living space. Take a moment to visualize what your ideal week would look like. All guilt aside, if YOU could have a week without plans – would you like that? Does the idea of 1 or 2 evening activities a week appeal to you, versus something every night? What would you like to spend more time doing?
In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Ruben reminds us that one big – and indisputable – happiness factor in life is having free time full of fun and relaxation. Because doing things that don’t serve any purpose other than our own personal enjoyment makes us happy.
What would a happy life look like for you?
2. Ask Yourself, “Does This Spark Joy?”
Taking a look at your calendar, review each activity and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy for me?” Even if it is your child’s gymnastics class that she loves – review it from your point of view. Does it bring you immense joy to sit and watch your daughter tumble? Or are you stressed while you’re there, trying to wrangle your tired younger children and keep them occupied?
For example, I was taking my toddler to a weekly music class where it was so fun to watch him experience new instruments and learn new songs. While some of the moments in class were joyful for me to see, making sure he napped before hand and had eaten and was actually participating in the classes I had paid for made it more stressful than joyful, week after week.
Identifying that an activity or event doesn’t spark joy for you doesn’t mean you have to quit and cancel it from your calendar. Creating a list of the calendar events that do spark joy for you, and that don’t spark joy for you helps to re-frame what you are filling your time with.
3. Decide What You Want to Keep and Discard What You Don’t
Accomplishing this, however, requires you to dig deep to figure out what kind of life you want to live. It’s up to you to develop the kind of schedule that reflects your ideal future. Instead of trying to figure out what to eliminate from your busy schedule, Kondo recommends focusing only on what you truly want to keep: the things that make you happy. Consider carefully how you feel when you think of each commitment.
Letting go of something that no longer sparks immense joy – and welcoming something new in its place – can be deeply therapeutic. Take a blank calendar and write down your new, ideal schedule.
“As for you, pour your time and passion into what brings you the most joy, your mission in life … Life truly begins after you have put [it] in order.”
Define the Purpose of Each Commitment
As you reconsider each commitment on your schedule, think about the real purpose that it is there in the first place. Why is your son taking hockey? What is the purpose? For example, drowning is still one of the most common causes of accidental death in children, so taking swimming lessons is an essential life-saving skill.
Are you feeling obligated to attend commitments with friends out of guilt? Is your participation in the parent-teacher council meetings everything you had hoped it would be? Are you set on not letting your child quit dance even though she says she doesn’t like it, because you want to show her how to work through hard things? Consider alternatives.
4. Strive for Simplicity While Considering Others
Sometimes intuition and reason will be at odds with one another, especially if you are feeling emotional guilt about certain events. You want to teach your 4 year old about teamwork and sportsmanship but, understandably at his age, he runs to you crying every time someone else kicks the soccer ball that he was trying to kick!
In these cases, consider carefully the way in which this commitment contributes to your life. Is this the only way he can learn teamwork and collaboration? By cutting away the unnecessary, you’ll be that much closer to creating your ideal life.
There may also be some activities that do not spark joy for you, but spark immense joy for someone else in your family. Similar to decluttering kids toys, I suggest you compile a list of all of the activities your child is currently enrolled in (and those coming up later this year,) and ask your child which one sparks joy the most for them.
If your child had a mountain of stuffed animals that was causing chaos in your home, you would ask your child to pick their favourites and the rest would be stored away or donated. You can “store away” activities as well – you’re not saying they can never do that activity again, but perhaps you decide they can do one activity per season, and it has to be an activity where 2 children can participate at the same time.
Remember the Rights of the Child
Opening your child’s schedule makes space and time for their most important work – PLAY. Studies have shown that time for free play has been markedly reduced due to a hurried lifestyle and an increased enrollment in enrichment activities at the expense of free child-centered play. In fact, play is so important to optimal child development that it has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child. How much time does your child have for free play each week?
5. Stop Glorifying Being Busy
In today’s society, being chronically busy has become a badge of honour. We put it on a pedestal. Most of us believe that being busy means you’re being productive and getting things done.
It’s time we stop being busier than we have to be. We need to rid our lives of the energy guzzlers and make time for the things we would do if left to our own devices. There are benefits to every activity we participate in, but when we’ve got something on the calendar every single day, what is the underlying cost?
Declutter Your Schedule Using the Konmari Method – Spark Joy with Marie Kondo
If your friend asks you how things are going, and your answer is, “BUSY!”, take that as a warning sign that things need to change. Once you declutter your schedule using the Konmari Method, your days will simply “spark joy,” just like Marie Kondo hopes for all of the items in your home.