Decluttering with Astrid (17)

This week: Folding and Tidying Away

Once you have thrown things away, there comes the task, of course, of having to tidy up the things that were allowed to stay. And that’s also a nice matter to delve into. It’s one thing that stuck in my mind after having read the first book by Japanese decluttering guru, Marie Kondo. Odds are that your socks—just like mine and probably 80 percent of the socks worldwide—lie balled up in a draw or basket. Well, according to Marie, they shouldn’t. In fact, she feels sorry for those socks: How would you like it if you were lying in a drawer all scrunched up every day, huh? Precisely. If Marie had her way, your socks would be carefully folded and stored upright in a drawer. This way, they are treated with the respect they deserve and look better when worn. Ever since I read that, I haven’t been able to look at my sock drawer in the same way again. I think she may have hit upon something there, and now that she has attributed these human qualities to them, I suddenly see my socks a little like tiny people. And yet, they still lie in balls in the drawer, which itself lies above another drawer that’s full of all those lonely little socks that have lost their other half. This drawer is emptied once a year, because–as we all know–they’ll never be reunited with their partners.

Folded T-shirts and blouses: now there’s another struggle I face. I always fold them like the lady in the chic clothing store, with sleeves and the outer edges folded inward so that I can create a nice neat rectangular parcel. My male partner, on the other hand, does not: he folds them like a letter before it goes into an envelope. It always pains me slightly when a sales assistant from, say Zara, folds my newly-purchased clothing like that before slipping it into a bag. So you can imagine how I feel when I see my clothes folded like this in my own closet, too. And you can therefore understand why I take them out and simply refold them—my way. I even gave him a lesson in how to fold, but to no avail. Something to do with male motor-skills, I think. That and the fact that, as far as he’s concerned, what does it matter how it looks in the closet. It’s in a closet isn’t it? To which, I must admit, I had no reply, as he has got a point. Moreover, you can’t really complain when someone else voluntarily does the laundry, can you?

Another funny thing I remember about the Japanese declutterer-types, is that they are averse to labels, and a house that “speaks” to you all day: “Here are the biscuits;” “This is the macaroni;” “The admin is in here;” “This is where your keys are”. According to followers of Feng Shui, this sucks all the energy out of you and your home. Like someone is SHOUTING AT YOU IN CAP LOCKS all day. If you teach yourself to put everything back in the same place, you won’t need labels, stickers or storage pots with RICE, SUGAR, and FLOUR on them anymore. One caveat, though: Marie Kondo and her colleagues clearly live alone. But on the other hand, none of my family have ever read my fascinating, exclamation-marked labels and stickers (or let me put it another way: have ever had to), so they can indeed go.

And there you have it: we’re well into the new year, and how will it pan out for me? As well as staying healthy and happy, I have set myself a few achievable goals: a home that does not talk to me; socks that are respected and rest happily in a drawer; and a pile of T-shirts that I find attractive. Sounds like a swanky fashion boutique, doesn’t it. But I will succeed; I have to.

Astrid is, together with Irene, the founder of Flow Magazine. She lives together with her partner and has two kids. Every Tuesday she writes about the sense and nonsense of decluttering.

“Week 17 Folding and Tidying Away”