Netflix sensation Marie Kondo has been taking the world by storm with her unconventional KonMari tidying methods. I tried to avoid the bandwagon, I did, but people, she got me. She got me good.
So let me paint this picture for you. I’m a civilian living off post in rural Japan. We have a traditional Japanese home complete with a tatami room and a heated toilet seat with multiple buttons and often surprising functions. Despite what you may have heard, not all Japanese living arrangements are itsy bitsy apartments. In fact, our house is a 1300 square feet. We have a yard! I’m totally on a tangent here but I just want you to know, not everyone in Japan lives in a pop-up camper size flat.
Anyhoo, much like Japanese apartments, the functionality of my house isn’t, well, American. And even though my husband and I sold, donated, trashed, or stored about half of our belongings before relocating, we still couldn’t find a place for our all of our things without it looking like a cluttered mess.
OK. Before I move on, I’m just going to come right out and say it. Don’t judge me. Or do. Whatever.
I’m a functioning slob.
There. It’s out and all of you know it and that was a lot easier than trying to prove to you that I’m actually a neat freak. LOL. Smiley face.
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Back to my story: My husband is a really clean guy. He always looks nice and makes the bed perfectly and everything is always just so. Our Great Dane? Well, he is, in fact, an actual slob. (We understand each other). So when things are, you know, slobby, hubby gets upset. I’ve known this for the entire decade we’ve been together and although we’d pick up, toss, sell, you know, do all the things one does to alleviate all the things being in all the places, the mess was still happening.
Enter Marie Kondo
I had heard about Marie Kondo. Everyone on my Facebook and Instagram feed was raving about how her folding and organization methods had changed their lives. Kondo was everywhere. She had infiltrated every social media platform. There was nothing but KONDO! So I did what I normally do when trendy things happen, I turned the other cheek. I tried to get away. And then one night when my husband was away on a work trip, and I was good and fueled by chardonnay and popcorn, locked and loaded for a Netflix binger, I got sucked into the Tidying Up vortex.
That was it. I was in. And I was never coming back.
I watched every single episode. Marie Kondo is the epitome of Japanese grace and style. Can we talk about her skin? Is that what skin looks like when a home is neat and orderly?! And she’s a mom of not one but two toddlers. What is this wizardry? She’s also written two books, Spark Joy and the New York Times Bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Kondo’s teachings can be wrapped into one term, coined by the clean queen herself, the KonMari Method. Instead of tackling a location in your home, the KonMari Method encourages one to tidy based on category. The order is clothing, books, papers, miscellaneous items or, kimono, and finishes with items of sentimental value. Whatever doesn’t “spark joy” gets discarded. And if you’re grappling with the expression “spark joy,” Kondo likens it to the feeling you get when you hold a puppy. Or, for you cat people, a kitten. (And if you don’t like either, well, I can’t help you).
Sparking Joy, Or Not
When I thought about it that way, I was immediately able to think about items that no longer sparked joy. Like that teal sweater from 15 years ago when I worked retail. I donned that baby while I scanned overpriced sheets and managed the insanity of checkout lines on Black Friday. I didn’t like it then, why on earth did I have it now?
Before I knew it, I had bags and bags of stuff to give away and my dresser drawers were more organized and beautiful than they’d ever been. My husband was happy. I felt accomplished. And my dog, well, he was…the same.
Here are my biggest KonMari takeaways:
- The focus isn’t identifying what you can get rid of, it’s identifying what you want to take into your future.
- If you go into cleaning and organizing with this mindset, you’ll be less likely to resent it. There’s less pressure when you hone in on those things that really speak to your soul.
- Don’t tidy and then discard, discard then tidy!
- Talk about having it all wrong! How often have you shoved things away in a junk drawer or in a closet only to realize a few seasons later that you never missed it? Why not sell, donate, or trash what you don’t need and then give the rest a great place in your home? There’d be less to clean anyway!
- Don’t tidy by room, but by category.Kondo’s idea here is that we tend to store much of the same thing in different places — i.e. papers in our car, office, and on that surface that somehow collects all the junk mail — which is why we never tend to get anywhere when we decide to tidy by location. Mind blown!
- Folding matters.
- Once you get the hang of it, folding clothing the Marie Kondo way is quick and easy. It allows you to see all of your items — even the ones you forgot about but still know and love!
- A tidy home is more meaningful than we think.There’s no coincidence that many of the folks on Hoarders are also experiencing some sort of mental health issue. A cluttered environment can affect cortisol levels, sleep, focus, and physical health, too.
Tidying a home takes work, especially if you have little ones or fur babies. If you’re struggling to get the kids on board, make cleaning up a game and present it with the utmost enthusiasm. A home should be a place of peace and calm. If you’re struggling to feel that, take a look around. Maybe it’s time to Kondo.
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