KonMari vs. 40 Bags in 40 Days | Simplify Your Life

We recently decided to declutter, and vastly strip-down the quantity of toys available to our ten-month twins, by donating and rotating our stock. The effect of this has been immense: our home is much cleaner and tidier, and family life is more peaceful.

Sausage & Bean are able to play independently, whereas before they needed constant adult interaction to be content. Not because they’re high-need babies (they aren’t), but because WE created an overstimulating environment for them.

 

Dreaming of Minimalism

It all started when I discovered the KonMari method. At first I felt like this would be a great idea… one day. Because clearly I was not going to get the opportunity to do it properly any time soon!

I was a bit sad because I am naturally a messy hoarder (housework is my nemesis) and KM seemed to be the magic bullet which would solve this problem. I joined the KonMari UK and Ireland Facebook group, and gazed longingly at the transformations I saw.

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But with two baby boys needing my attention, and the energy demands of breastfeeding added to that, I didn’t feel I had the capacity to start such an enormous project.

 

Breakthrough

The solution came when I stumbled across the 40 Bags in 40 Days concept. This was an equally challenging idea in terms of scale, but it had huge appeal in that I could choose to do it gradually or in spurts – whatever my schedule allowed.

I love a good Lenten challenge – usually I fast from vices such as alcohol, chocolate or unhealthy food. But the very existence of this project challenged me, and showed me that I had an ‘addiction’ to stuff. We were drowning in it!

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A Bespoke Blend

Despite choosing the 40 Bags method, I still used elements of KonMari in the decision-making process. Which toys actually spark joy for the children? Which toys sap joy from the parents (ie creating a cluttered, visually noisy environment)?

KonMari purists would insist on one concentrated session: one massive pile of everything in a certain category (Komono would be the jargon phrase, which essentially means Miscellany, and would include many household items in that category as well as toys.)

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With twin babies around this just wasn’t an option, but I did find it helpful to make a pile of each category of toy in turn, to help me see how many similar/duplicate types we had. The biggest culprit was soft toys. MAN those things take up space! Particularly since my boys have shown very little interest in them…

Now we only have 4 toy activities on display at any one time, plus a reading corner, all at child-level and intentionally arranged to look as inviting as possible. The boys can easily help themselves, and it takes me all of two minutes to tidy it back up again.

 

Toy Rotation Sparks Elation

I rotate the twins’ toys & books on a weekly basis, and currently have no more than 2 Ikea Kallax boxes worth of stuff in storage. And yes, one of those is full of soft toys (I seem to be convinced that they will hit a soft-toy phase?!). As soon as a box overflows, something has to go in the charity bag!

I am aware that I will want to expand this 2-box limit somewhat as Sausage & Bean get older, since I’ll need to include art supplies, puzzles, fancy dress and some gross-motor toys. But for their needs right now it really works, and our home is a much calmer environment because of it!

I am almost all the way through my 40 bags challenge, and I can honestly say I have missed just one item from all the many bin bags-full that have gone to charity. And it’s so insignificant that I can’t even remember what the item was now!

Where are you up to on your decluttering journey? Or are you still drowning in stuff? Comment below to let us know!

 

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38 thoughts on “KonMari vs. 40 Bags in 40 Days | Simplify Your Life

    1. It’s so freeing! And actually many people also count rubbish and recycling (I just counted donations, as I think rubbish and recycling is just what is always produced). The single biggest help I found was joining the official Facebook group. It really inspires you – everyone’s before and after pics! I used to eat or shop when I was bored. Now I look for stuff to declutter 😆

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    1. It’s definitely helping reduce the housework! My latest battle is baby proofing though – they have suddenly worked out how to circumvent a lot of the measures we have in place, like launching themselves over bed guards etc…

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  1. I’ve been dying to do something like this! But my son is only 5 months old and he doesn’t actually have an overflow of stuff (we rent, so we’ve kept his “stuff” to a minimum). I think that once we settled down in our own home and we get back a lot of our own stuff from storage then I will definitely have to start decluttering! Thanks for the post!

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    1. Oh having stuff in storage is the BEST opportunity to declutter – because you don’t haven’t needed it for x many months, so it’s much easier to tell whether you really need it at all! We are living with my parents while we save for a mortgage, and I had something like 50 boxes of stuff in storage. In the meantime I started my simplifying journey. So once I had finished our current home I moved onto the garage. Seriously, I kept like 10 boxes-worth! Can’t believe we lugged all of that stuff up from London with 5 month twins in tow. Why on earth did we keep it?!

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  2. Spunds very interesting. We often donate clothes. Every few months – i look through all his clothes n decide what goes n unpack tonnes of new age appropriate gifts we ve got too. But we so should start sorting the toys. Esp the stuffed toys. They will never like it but they are do cute.

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    1. The way I justify it with gifts, is that the purpose of the gift was to make you feel loved and let you know they were thinking of you. If that purpose has been fulfilled, then there doesn’t need to be any guilt if you can’t find a use for it! And with that in mind we have started giving digital gifts and cards – audiobooks, music, subscriptions etc x

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  3. This is such a fantastic idea! We currently have way too many toys in our living room and I often wonder if we should get rid of some or cycle the ones we have. I will have to look more into this 40 bags in 40 days challenge, even though lent is over. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I just found it an easier way to break things down, because I can do it in sessions whenever I can get some babysitting. I was inspired by some friends who are super wealthy with a gorgeous, large house just outside london… with EVERY available surface covered in toys! I thought to myself – ‘surely you don’t have to live like this? But maybe it’s inevitable with kids?’
      I saw a video by Montessori Home’s Carine Robin, where she made a throwaway comment about how we as parents make the clutter: we provide the toys, so we are responsible for making sure it’s not overwhelming for the children. It really hit home x

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  4. I’m somewhere in the process. I follow KonMari groups on Facebook for my daily inspiration in keeping my stuff less, and tried to look into Montessori parenting for a bit. We are working our way there. I really need to try a challenge like this and maybe read her book.

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    1. Definitely give it a go! Research shows that kids feel a compulsion to pull-out/touch every toy, but the length of time spent engaging with each is vastly reduced. I’d be willing to be you’d both get a lot out of decluttering and toy rotation 🙂

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  5. I had the same problem with KMing. Doing the first few categories did help me learn how to let go and purge but it was too hard to gather everything up for later categories when the kids would get into everything.

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    1. Ah yes – I had decluttered in the past, but nowhere near as comprehensively. I was still stuck in ‘just in case’ mode. But worse than that, our last move was when the twins were 4 months old! It was chaos! I literally couldn’t do any of the packing because I was so destroyed from the pregnancy/two newborns/caesarean that we had to get friends and family to pack for us. Now we are on the path to minimalism and I just can’t help thinking how much easier everything would have been if I had only discovered it sooner!

      Best of luck with your move! The more you can streamline, the easier it will be! Xxx

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  6. Hi! It’s definitely possible to do the KonMari process with young kids, you have to do it a bit differently. Let’s face it, she didn’t have young children when she wrote her books. Not sure her clients had very young children either. The thing is to dived the categories further and be able to do it in very small chunks here and there, like anything when you have children! I’m doing it with slightly older children (well I admit, they go to school now!) but I wish I had discover the method when they were little, I lost so many precious hours (and my cool) living in a cluttered environment. I’m passionate about linking Montessori and KonMari too.

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