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One mom is ‘simplifying Raleigh’ one house at a time with inspiration from Marie Kondo

May 27, 2019

Marie Kondo has inspired millions to organize their homes and lives using her Konmarie method for tidying up and finding joy.

For Alison Bentley, who lives in Raleigh with her husband and two kids, Kondo has inspired her to launch a business this year. Through Simplify Raleigh, Bentley, who has studied with Kondo herself, guides her clients on their own journeys to tidy up and find joy.

Go Ask Mom: Were you always organized?

Alison Bentley: In a lot of ways my organization was a survival mechanism for a chaotic childhood. We moved 18 times in 20 years and the only way to maintain calm was to have items organized and just so. We might be living in a different house, but I would know where my things were.

GAM: What got you hooked on Marie Kondo?

AB: I got hooked on Marie Kondo due to a synergy of coincidences. I had just been to Africa on a mission trip to an orphanage where I saw life in its most minimal form. The children had very few possessions, but they were happy, playing with rocks and climbing trees. Seeing this made me question our lifestyle.

When I got back to the United States, I happened to read Kondo’s first book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” As I was reading, it struck me that her approach and philosophy were the answer to our overabundance and consumerism. I had always been an organized person but now I wanted to be an intentional one. The book gave me the tools to reprioritize my home and life. The result was so – dare I say – life-changing – that I wanted to do the same for others and Simplify Raleigh was born.

GAM: Kondo’s recommendations aren’t just about cleaning your house, it’s about more than that. Tell us about that.

AB: The Kondo approach is more of a full life overhaul than a cleaning exercise. It is about being mindful of what brings you joy and only having those things in your life. This applies to possessions, but it also applies to how you spend your time, your work, your family. It is not about throwing things away, it is about restructuring your home environment to minimize stress and maximize happiness, in a word to simplify.

GAM: What do you offer through Simplify Raleigh?

AB: At Simplify Raleigh, I help people structure their home environments to minimize stress and maximize happiness... in a word to simplify. The Marie Kondo process is a journey, I can help with any stage or I can work with you from start to finish. Typically I like to do an initial consultation and help clients develop a plan and vision. Once the plan is in place, I can help execute it as much or as little as needed. I can hold your hand throughout or be a resource when you get stuck.

GAM: To the busy mom out there who sees her house full of toys and stuff, can she really organize? What do you say to her?

AB: I would say to not get overwhelmed. Commit to tidying and go from there.

Many of my clients have switched to more experience-based gifts for their children for birthdays and holidays. At Christmastime, for instance, I give the kids one thing that they need, one thing that they want, and two to three experiences. This will help to stem the tide of what is coming in to the playroom and that is half the battle.

As far as organizing what you have, you can start with the low hanging fruit of the toys that your children have grown out of and then work your way to the current toys and paring those down. For instance, if your child has 100 Matchbox cars line them all up and ask your child to pick out their 10 favorite. Take the others and put them away and after some time has passed donate them. You can do a similar process with all of your child’s collections. Most children, like most adults, actually function better when they have fewer choices.

GAM: What is your hopes for the future of Simplify Raleigh?

AB: My wish for Simplify Raleigh would be to share the “life-changing magic of tidying up” with as many people as possible. I really think that our lives have gotten too complicated, technology has made us all available at all times. We have so much, but we are lonelier and unhappier than ever. I have seen how this process changes lives. I’ve noticed people’s demeanors change. They appear less stressed, and this change is mirrored by the whole family.

Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.

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