I see you, watching the Marie Kondo show on Netflix and getting ready to declutter your whole house. Those curtains do not need to come with you to house number 12.

I actually love a good declutter. I attempt to clean things out a few times every year. Mostly, it’s to weed out outgrown clothes and things that have fallen out of fashion. I’ll junk broken toys and donate books we no longer read.

But I’m not going full minimalist or joining the KonMari movement 100%.

Why I’m Not Going Full KonMari on My House

I feel like I just can’t. At least not yet.

It’s not like I have a ton of stuff. I’m not a hoarder, not even a little bit. Like I said, I do a few semi-annual clean outs of my clothes, books and the kids’ toys.

I go pretty deep, but it’s not a true declutter. Not all the way.

I can’t quite bring myself to get rid of some of my cocktail dresses or sweaters. Some of those itty-bitty baby clothes have been traveling with us for five years, even though we’ve firmly done having babies.

Yes, I’ve got a collection of curtains and adjustable curtain rods. They come with me when I move.

Keeping My Safety Net Intact

And for good reason. I never quite know where we’re headed next. Each move brings a new climate that’s slightly unpredictable.

Take Okinawa for example. We were told that it was a subtropical island, that it never gets too cold. Shorts and t-shirts all year round.

Fast forward to December, when I headed to the Exchange to stock up on sweaters. I’d left all of mine in storage or given them away. Subtropical climate, right?

I keep some of my things, like different sized curtains and sweaters, as a safety net. A just in case for unexpected weather and window sizes.

Plus, I’m done with scrambling for appropriate clothing if, or when, we travel to colder weather places. A vacation in Osaka during winter is no joke. Luckily I’d packed just enough cold weather things to tide us over, but just barely.

Joy vs. Need

Those sweaters do not spark joy. Neither do the super neutral blackout curtains.

Guess what? I’m keeping them around because I need them. The actual object doesn’t make me happy, but my kids sleeping in past 5 a.m. brings me joy. Being warm on a chilly day makes me pretty happy, too.

Not everything in my closet and home is going to bring me joy. That’s a plain fact. Some things I just need: clothes to wear when it’s hot or cold, work appropriate clothes, household basics like curtains and rugs.

I’d love to keep clothes that only bring me joy. It’d be great to only wear cute dresses and athleisure wear. I’d love to decorate my house with fun knickknacks and funky patterned fabrics.

But I can’t. I’ve got to have professional clothes and regular clothes for living my life. And my house has got to be able to move every 1-3 years.

Prizing Durability Over Pure Joy

I’ve got to have things that last and that can take a beating. My last few moves have not been too gently with my household goods. Plus, I’ve got young kids. And they are not known to go easy on furniture and fabrics.

So I’ve got a sturdy, basic neutral colored couch that pairs well with simple, washable pillows. Do I love them? Nope. Do they spark joy? Only when something spills and I remember that cleaning up the mess is super simple.

My furniture is simple, whites and tans, that can be easily taken apart and reassembled. No joy there either, just pure convenience.

The durability and flexibility over joy or happiness moves into my closet. It’s filled with sturdy, neutral clothes that can go from classroom to professional meeting. I can go from date night to play date and back again. And it’s all easily, quickly replaceable as things get worn.

Maybe When the Military is Over

I’m holding out for a time when the military life is over. Maybe then I’ll fill my house with objects that are spark joy. I’ll indulge in great furniture and art.

My clothes will finally be beautiful. I’d love to have luxurious, well-fitting sweaters and tailored pants, shoes that don’t pinch. You know, the basics that also bring my happiness.

Sure, it’s a pipe dream.

But right now, going a complete Marie Kondo-style declutter is simply impractical.

I never know when I’ll move to a house with weird sized windows. I’d like to avoid purchasing a new set of curtains everywhere we go. So I stick with the plain basics I already have, in a variety of sizes.

We never know where we’ll end up next, so I’ll keep traveling with my several years old sweaters and cold weather gear. I’d rather not need to immediately purchase a whole new winter wardrobe every three years.

Until we’re in a place that I know we’re staying for a good bit, I’ll stick with my mini-decluttering sessions and save the full KonMari for our forever home.

Have you gone full Marie Kondo? Tell us about your decluttering experience!



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Meg is a military spouse, teacher, writer, and mom of two MilKids. She is an education blog and coaching/advocacy service focused on military families. Meg's mission is to help families understand and navigate the K-12 world. She provides timely posts, timeless advice, and personal assistance to families with school-aged children. You can find Meg online at megflanagan.com and @MegFlanaganEducation

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