Since Marie’s Kondo’s new TV series, Tidying Up has come out on Netflix, the internet is once again abuzz with her name. I’ve seen some posts from people who I love dearly talking about how terrible the show is, and how her method puts too much pressure on parents. My experience of Marie Kondo started about four years ago, and I’d like to tell you about how her method has changed my life, even with three active kids and two home-based businesses. Don’t worry, this isn’t the part where I show you pictures of my perfect home. 😉
I first read Konmari’s book when I was pregnant with my youngest child. We had recently moved into a new house…a much bigger house, that I hadn’t figured out how to get a handle on. Really, I hadn’t been able to get a handle on any house or apartment that we had lived in, large or small. I always wanted to be organized, but couldn’t seem to pull it off. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up helped me figure out why.
I had so much guilt tied up in all the stuff I owned. Guilt about someone spending money on a gift for me that I didn’t like, but couldn’t let go of. Guilt that I had spent money on something that I no longer liked. Guilt. Guilt. Guilt. I was surrounded by its manifestation in so many items in my home. When Kondo explained that the gift had served its purpose once it changed hands from the gift giver to the recipient, it gave me permission to see that gift’s job as complete, and let it go live with someone who would enjoy it.
With Konmari’s gentle process of finding what brings joy and discarding the rest, I began to recognize my shopping patterns. By trying to save money, I bought myself cheap clothes that were just ok. A few months later, the thrill of the deal had faded and all I was left with were clothes that didn’t bring me joy or compliment my body. I began to shop for higher quality clothes that would last and make me feel good. I fine-tuned my style and realized that I really didn’t care if I wore the exact same kind of top every day – it’s what I like!
I worked hard on tidying my house – donating, repurposing, or throwing away things that no longer served us. By early July of 2015 I was able to fulfill a longtime dream – having 50 people over for a party! This tradition has continued every summer since, and I really don’t believe that I could have pulled it off without Konmari’s guidance.
Well, you can probably guess what happened after the baby was born. Things came unraveled, and the house became more disorganized. When the person in a home who is most invested in keeping a house tidy is busy healing, caring for a baby, and working, it doesn’t bode well for the tidiness of that house.
However, my efforts at Konmari were still worth it. In fact, they set up my postpartum adjustment to be easier. The mountain of dishes that we could never seem to get on top of was completely manageable thanks to the systems I had put in place during my Konmari “festival.” Our clothes were tidy and organized, even if they took two weeks to put away after they got washed. While we were in the thick of it with raising kids, we had tuned our joy meters, and we had a better sense of what we wanted to have in our home, where, and why. Instead of a quick solution, I had found a change of mindset. That shift couldn’t be taken away, even if the time to implement those new principles had.
Fast forward 3.5 years to December 2018. I was getting super stressed out every two weeks because it took hours and hours to get the house ready for the cleaning person we had hired. (I know, first world problems! But it was a still a big stressor.) I re-committed myself to the Konmari process. My baby is now a toddler who can participate in tidying, or entertain herself for a little while while I’m cleaning up. I have a little breathing room to be able to take on this process again. A few weeks later, the Netflix special came out. A couple weeks after that, I realized that the cleaning service would be coming the next day, and I didn’t need to clean my house in order for my house to be cleaned!
Right now I’m about halfway through my second round of Konmari. It’s really fun to see what worked well the first time, and what needs adjusting this time around. I’ve learned that it has to be easy to put things away or no one is going to do it. I learned (even though Marie Kondo stated it clearly in her book) that alike things need to be stored in just one place in the house, or they will drift, roam, and clutter. What can I say? I prefer to learn things the hard way. 😉
To address specific concerns that I’ve heard about Kondo’s method:
You don’t have to get rid of all of your stuff or become a minimalist. Actually, let me back up. You don’t have to do this at all! Marie Kondo isn’t pressuring anyone, or saying that everyone in the world should use this method. She is offering an amazing and lasting solution to people who are motivated to tidy up their space.
Her method is an invitation to discard that which doesn’t spark joy in your life, the things that you don’t want to take with you into your future. That means that you may be left with 50 figurines, a T shirt-that you haven’t worn since eighth grade but truly love, or four shelves full of books. It’s all about what makes YOU happy!
Through the Konmari Method I was able to discard books that were actually making me feel bad. They were full of should’s. I should read this, but I don’t have time. I should read this, but I have other books that I want to read more. It also made me realize how much I love the books that I do want to keep. They came out of an upstairs linen closet, and are now displayed in the center of our home where I can enjoy seeing them every day.
Waste. Isn’t it wasteful to throw everything away? First of all, not everything goes into a dumpster. Most things get donated and some get sold. Secondly, taking a good look at all the stuff you own, piled up by category is an infusion of reality about how much unhelpful stuff you acquire. It is a lasting solution to not continuing the cycle of buying wasteful items that won’t get used or enjoyed. Long-term, it contributes to environmental conservation rather than detracting from it. Just because it was a mistake to bring something into my home ten years ago doesn’t mean that I’m obligated to keep it there for another twenty years. The waste has already happened, and now it will happen a lot less because I understand what I like, and the unhelpful thought patterns that kept me buying things that I didn’t like or need.
Finally, if you really want to understand the Konmari Method, read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It’s 110 pages and can be read in a day. If you want to understand her method even better, read Spark Joy. A short TV show that funnels several weeks of families’ work into a few minutes is simply not going to give you the full picture, although it is enjoyable to watch.
If you’re not at a place in your life where you can, or want to tidy your home, then I wouldn’t bother getting into it. Some things are more important or more pressing, and that’s ok. If doing something besides tidying your home brings you joy, then more power to you! If you feel like you’re drowning in stuff and don’t know how to get organized, then this book could really be a game changer for you. I am forever grateful to Marie Kondo for how she has helped me gain clarity, perspective, and more calm in my home.