The beginning of the year brings reflection and resolutions for many. As a mother in Southern California, where it’s technically “winter” but often warm enough to go without a jacket and let the children play outside everyday, the new year still brings an urge to nest and create a cozy home.
Christine lives in Northern California with her husband and daughter. She is a Parenting Coach, recently trained as a KonMari Consultant, who helps other mothers create joyful homes for their families.
KonMari is the organizing method created by Japanese professional organizer Marie Kondo. A method she shared in her bestselling book, “The Life Changing Method of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.”
Christine is also a Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach. She teaches techniques based on Kim Payne’s book “Simplicity Parenting” which is full of helpful tools for creating daily rhythms that allow children to feel secure and supported.
Several years ago I read the book that started the KonMari craze: “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” There are many aspects of the book that I find informative, however I don’t apply it strictly to my own home. I found that the book “Simplicity Parenting” was more applicable to my family’s personal lifestyle and I implemented several of the techniques it outlines.
The KonMari method was the catalyst for a complete lifestyle change for Christine. A few months ago I sent her an email to hear more about her personal philosophy and how it made her life more joyful.
Since then I’ve been following her wonderful Facebook Group, “From Chaos to Calm,” where she offers guidance to parents who are looking for peace in their day-to-day family routines. It is inspiring to read testimonials on this page from people who are making positive changes in their lives.
I can understand why the KonMari method has such a passionate following. Many people are also applying the KonMari practice to areas outside of the home and making more mindful choices throughout their lives.
The Magic is Real
I love that you say, “the magic is real!” Why do you think Marie Kondo’s book had such a major impact on your life? Was it right place right time?
Exactly, right place at the right time. I was struggling with the transition into motherhood. Everything was harder than I could have possibly imagined. It was a long journey to having a baby in the first place; we experienced loss before our girl came to us. This experience created a sense of fear around the pregnancy and birth. We were able to have a homebirth and it was a positive experience, we were well supported and there were no complications.
The love for our daughter was so pure and intense! It was a time of lots of intensity. Learning to breast feed was so much harder than I expected and 24-7 care of a tiny human absorbed all of my attention. Learning to care for my daughter, myself, my husband and my work outside and in our home. It was a lot to adjust to. There is so much juggling on a sleepless brain to deal with as a mother of an infant. I didn’t feel capable of dealing with the home front that well. It was a blessing to find Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, it made me realize that I was more capable than I gave myself credit for that I had agency over my life creating it the way I wanted it to be.
Taming the Chaos
The process of letting go by category described in her book made taming the chaos of my life possible. Letting go of so much stuff in my life opened me to so much more. I got to know myself through that meditative process. By letting go of stuff I was learning to recognize all that was not serving me in my life, including lots of self-judgment and fear. I developed a mindfulness practice that worked internally as well as externally. It gave me the courage to be my imperfect self and learn to have self-compassion.
Simplicity Parenting helped me adapt the KonMari Method to a mom’s life and deepen my understanding of the value of simplifying, especially for our children’s sake. I was so inspired by the book, Simplicity Parenting that I became a Certified Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach.
You offer coaching and in-home sessions for mothers looking to create a sanctuary in their homes. Based on your experience, what are the top issues mothers are struggling with in their homes?
Yes, I’ve been coaching women for over 10 years, I’ve developed a coaching technique that gets to the heart of the issues that keep a person from living the joyful life we all desire. As a certified Simplicity Parenting Family Life coach, my technique is based heavily on this coaching style. Also, I was recently trained as a KonMari Consultant and I’ve been providing mothers with support simplifying their homes.
I’d say the top struggles moms have are: knowing how to start, being overwhelmed, and making the time for the process. A common problem is that many of us have too much stuff and our stuff doesn’t have designated places that we return it to when we are done. Then we become moms and have to learn how to organize our kids stuff too. Delayed decisions definitely create a lot of clutter in family homes. The things you say you’ll deal with later that get shoved in a closet or drawer and never get dealt with. These things build up and cause more overwhelm.
Is there an ideal time to start the joyful home process that will increase the odds of success?
The sooner the better I’d say, but when she is really ready to commit to the process is best. For many moms it is a big leap of faith to start the process. It feels scary and it is transformative on a physical, emotional and for me at least on a spiritual level as well. So I trust the timing of when my clients come to me. Starting is the hardest part, but once you do you will wonder what took you so long! I often hear from clients, “That was a lot easier than I thought it would be!”
Can the KonMari method be adapted to suit different ideas of what makes a home joyful?
Adapting is absolutely necessary! To begin, I recommend that mothers of infants create one place in their home where they are surrounded in joy, like a sitting place for nursing/feeding or the baby’s changing table. The rest of the house can wait while you bond with your baby. Joy is really about connecting with loved ones. Our babies are our biggest loves, and they need all the loving they can get – particularly in the first year. Though some mothers with infants really feel called to start the process and I support that choice as well.
There are many adaptations to the KonMari method. I have written about them in my eBook. The most helpful one is to simplify by subcategory. I created a checklist that can help you do just that. It can be downloaded here: www.sparksjoyhome.com
The advice from Marie Kondo to moms is to go through all of your own belongings first and teach your child her special folding method. Moms need more guidance than that so I created a system that can support moms in their simplifying process which is detailed in an eBook and eCourse.
I help moms from where they are. I guide them with a systematic approach to the space that makes sense and feels doable. Then I coach them in their decision-making. With my ability to listen, reflect and hold emotional space decisions are easier. I regularly hear from my clients that they were nervous about the process, but with my gentle guidance it was smoother and more pleasant than they expected.
You mentioned you have an eBook. Can you tell me more about it?
Yes, I will be releasing both an E-Book and an E-Course: The Busy Moms Guide to Simplicity & Joy. The course will walk you through the process of Creating Simplicity & Joy in your home and life, by letting go and creating space. The E-Book is focused on adaptations that moms can make to the process of creating space physically and emotionally to live more joyfully. The course goes in-depth about how to create your joyful home and joyful life. I’ve collaborated with some amazing women to bring supportive resources to moms interested in making space for more joy in their lives. We have started a support group to help moms successfully create their calm, peaceful, and organized home. Please join us in our Creating Calm Community.
Can you share a tip anyone can use to bring a little magic into their lives?
Notice when you are being critical of yourself, when you get a compliment and you immediately think of all that you haven’t accomplished instead of what you have. Notice how often you treat yourself as you would treat a dear friend.
Really the only thing that matters is that you love yourself. Caring for yourself means that you have the capacity to care for your family. When you have self-compassion you can give yourself and your family a joyful life. Sometimes the awareness you need more self-compassion is found by going through everything you own and choosing to keep only the joyful and necessary things.
Thank you Christine for taking time to share about KonMari and your motherhood journey!
All photos courtesy of Christine O’Brien
This was not a sponsored post.