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Family First: How to stay organized in the new year

Goals are good, but timing is everything.

HARTFORD, Conn — A new year, and a new opportunity to get organized. 

A new survey says an estimated 189 million Americans say they’re determined to learn something new, make a lifestyle change, or set a personal goal to better themselves in 2021. 

Sadly, it’s been shown that only about 4% of people stick to the resolutions each year.

Mara Dowler is a certified Marie Kondo consultant and runs her Madison-based company Bluebird Home. She is an expert in decluttering your home and in a lot of ways your life.  She says goals are good, but timing is everything.

“You have to do it on your own time," said Dowler, "You have to be ready, make the commitment then it’s a promise to yourself.” 

Dowler practices the KonMari organization method that emphasizes keeping only things that speak to the heart, and discarding items that no longer spark joy.  Many tidying methods advocate a room by room or a little by little approach but Dowler goes by category beginning with clothes, then books, papers and miscellaneous items, and finally sentimental things.

"It brings you peace when you’re only surrounded by things that have meaning to you. Things you use, things you want, things you love, and that’s what’s important," Dowler explained, "Your priorities become clear. Everybody thinks that more is better but it’s not really. Things tend to lose their specialness or lose their meaning because you’re overwhelmed by stuff.”

At the tail end of the holidays, the new stuff can be overwhelming. Dowler recommends including your kids in the tidying process. Go through their old and new belongings together and appeal to their compassionate side. Let them know that items that are not their favorite can be donated to kids who need them and will love them. 

You can see before and after transformations on Bluebird Home's Instagram.

Because children learn through play she suggests making cleaning up a fun sorting game. Explain that everything should have its own home, a designated spot where it lives in your house.

Tips on getting everyone in the family involved? 

Dowler said to "lead by example and by grace and then it will happen over time and remember that the house is a home not a museum. It gets messy, that’s life. Your home should function for you and your family, it doesn’t have to look Instagram worthy, you don’t live in a magazine.” 

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