Less | Smile, Breathe, and Go Slowly

Today is Carolyn’s first official link-up for our 2023 words! Please visit her and all of the other one little worders sharing their reflections this week. I’m really excited about my word (Less) because I feel like it gives me a ton of flexibility. Yes — my main goals are less clutter, less spending, and less waste — but there are months when I need to do less and to worry less. Those needs can also be met by paying attention to my one little word. Writing today’s update has given me an opportunity to reframe and laugh at my word a little bit, which I definitely needed!

This is already my third blog post on my word this year, so you can see how much it has been on my mind. In my post last week, so many of you assured me that I wasn’t the only one with piles and stacks to sort through on the daily. You also reminded me that there is simply more clutter when there are small children in the house – and thank you! But my ultimate vindication came when Matthew shared this tweet with me:

I have to admit that my first feeling about this is that I’ve been betrayed. I trusted Marie Kondo! I have spent years rereading her books and being assured that anyone can be tidy. And now she’s given up in her own life?! And then I remembered that she’s a human who has spent her life trying to help people spark joy, without judgment or condemnation of their messy lives. I could use a little less self-judgment in my own messy life!

I tried to read the original interview with Washington Post but it was behind a paywall. But I did find this article from Romper that summarized the original piece. (I also learned that Marie Kondo has a new book out!) I loved this paragraph of the Romper article:

‘But in this latest interview, Kondo talks about the fact that giving up on one area doesn’t mean you’ve failed: her concept of kurashi, which roughly translates to “way of life,” is bigger than a clean kitchen. Rather than focus on a perfectly organized home, which may not be realistic for some people and especially parents, she’s encouraging readers to lean into little rituals that can create a sense of peace and joy: taking time for tea, for example, or just looking at something you love. Enjoying family time is another item that takes priority over folding laundry or filing papers. “My home is messy, but the way I am spending my time is the right way for me at this time at this stage of my life,” she says. She later continues, “Now I realize what is important to me is enjoying spending time with my children at home.”’Romper

Focus on rituals? I can do that. Here’s a few rituals that help me get through my day:

  • Early morning writing and coffee
  • Weekly Dunkin trips after story time
  • Dance parties in the kitchen with the kids before heading upstairs for the evening (Bad Romance is Bryce’s favorite, Party in the USA is Bronwyn’s favorite, Colton prefers Zoe Deschanel’s Winnie the Pooh songs, and I can dance to any Walker Hayes or Old Dominion song {actually, I can dance to anything. Blog post forthcoming.}).
  • Reading with my children before bed
  • Drinking green tea while planning out our homeschooling day

(I am tempted to write about rituals I’d like to incorporate into my day, but that would mean adding more and not less!)

I still want to cut back on the clutter and try to make every day a little less overwhelming, but I’m going to take Thich Nhat Hanh’s advice: smile, breathe, and go slowly. There’s no need to make everyone miserable, including myself, in the process. I’ve been reminded countless times that decluttering is something one must do throughout their entire life. The best thing I can do right now is to limit what could add to the clutter, which goes back to my original mantra: less clutter, less spending, less waste. If I keep that at the top of my mind when I’m deciding whether or not to buy something, that will take me pretty far.

What are some semi-daily rituals that spark joy in your own life? I’d love to hear about them.


28 thoughts on “Less | Smile, Breathe, and Go Slowly

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  1. I have my morning readings and prayer with my coffee. I do my journaling. This year I am focusing on renewal, gratitude, and joy and am being mindful of exlporing rituals that support that focus. Meal preparation is a ritual and certain daily household tasks that I am doing with mindfulness. My daily walk is a ritual that includes my listening to an audible book. A shared ritual with my husband in the evenings is watching a TV series. Life is good.


  2. I am proud of you for recognizing that less clutter doesn’t mean no clutter at all — with five people plus animals in the house, I think it’d be pretty much impossible to eliminate it all together! And I think those small moments of mindfulness can be a way to appreciate Less as well.


  3. I saw that Marie Condo had given into clutter now that she has children. Actually made me smile. Life certainly becomes hectic with children, and routines must be changed. Kudos to her for being honest. My favorite ritual comes in the late afternoon when I have a snack—popcorn and cold tea—and read until supper, which is usually prepared earlier in the day. In between munching and reading, I watch night come, bringing vivid colors to the sky. Dusk is my favorite time of day.


  4. I can attest to the reality of seasons. Our space is much more cluttered now because we have our little boys here to play multiple times each week and that won’t be a forever thing so I have learned to pause and enjoy it. I am so grateful to have this time with them and all the cardboard boxes, trains, blocks, and art supplies bring us so much joy.


  5. I’m reading Kondo’s latest book right now! A lot of it is a repeat of her main concepts, but there are new sections on planning your day that have some good insight. Plus, lots of calming photos. (But also heads up that there are a few moments of weird diet culture in there.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lovely! Minus the dirt culture, of course. I’m trying to decide if I should buy it or ask my library to order it? This feels like such a hard decision!


      1. If you have already read her previous books (multiple times), then I don’t think you need to buy it. There’s not a ton new here, it’s just fun to look through!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve always been a Good enough kind of housekeeper and Mum. Three children are hard work and do make a big mess. But it goes when they do, so just roll with it! Less stressing about unimportant things maybe? The mess will be there tomorrow, but the moment to connect with people and crafting won’t be. Keep going you are doing great.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love the idea of rituals. I have a morning ritual of stretching to greet the day. I’d like to have more of a ritual at my writing desk and have been pondering how to do that.


  8. I love that you wrote this, Katie. I saw many, many people making fun of Marie Kondo for her admission, and it was really unsettling to me. Very schadenfreude. It seemed to me that judging her and being snarky was sparking joy in other people, and I just can’t with that. I found her book so soothing, and her ideas of sparking joy with objects and letting things go so freeing and lovely. Also, I fold my clothes the way she recommended, and I love it.

    I am a big fan of little rituals and I have so many. And they all spark joy!


    1. I hear you on the snarkiness. I hope my post didn’t come across that way!! And I’m with you: I find her books soothing and loving. I’m so glad that she admitted to how hard it is for her right now!! It makes me feel a little bit better about my own life 🙂

      Yay for rituals that spark joy!


  9. I like the idea of daily rituals. I love my morning time with my coffee before Fletch is up and out of bed. The house is quiet and peaceful (not that he is a noisy soul, but you know…). When Colin was little we read every night before bed. And dance parties – great idea!!


  10. Love this post!

    My rituals: listening to a podcast in the morning while getting ready (usually start with The Slowdown – daily poetry podcast,) reading in bed for 30 minutes or so by myself before the bedtime routine, and I try to meditate for a few minutes daily with my Calm app. (But if I miss a day I give myself grace!)


    1. Starting your day with poetry sounds like Heaven, Laila. I love it!! And I’m so impressed that you’re able to read for thirty minutes in bed… I am instantly asleep!! And meditation is another ritual that sparks so much joy. I love this comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Ah, yes! I distinctly remember reading MK’s book and thinking to myself, “There’s no way I’m emptying my purse and tucking it away to be stored until next time–each time I run to the grocery store! I’m lucky if I remember to take my car keys out of the ignition!” So– here’s to being IN whatever season we’re in 🙂
    And semi-daily rituals? Coffee with by husband while kids are still sleeping. xo


    1. Cleaning out her purse each evening also struck me as impossible. What if you have to leave really quickly and forget something??! Madness! I love your ritual with your husband. It must be nice to have uninterrupted conversations with him!!


  12. Pausing mid-day with lunch and a book is becoming an important part of my day. and I’m finally back to journaling daily, which feels “like me” again. Of course, it helps that Lucy is almost six months old and doesn’t need quite so much attention (and as I type this I’m thinking of you with three little ones and again I’m amazed at how well you manage all of it!)


    1. Reading time with lunch sounds wonderful! I’d bet that Lucy has brought all sorts of little rituals into your life too. Dogs are the best at observing our routines and finding ways to fit themselves in 🙂


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