In the spirit of the New Year, I’ve been looking into all the fuss surrounding the Marie Kondo ‘movement’. For those who haven’t heard of her, Marie Kondo is a five-foot-nothing Japanese powerhouse of tidy who penned the Japanese best-seller “Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’. She teaches people how to ‘free themselves’ of clutter, thereby allowing themselves a higher degree of calm, focus and emotional wellbeing. She advocates minimalistic ways of living and only holding onto personal belongings that ‘spark joy’.
You can imagine all the memes that have circulated from this mantra…
When I first heard of her, I dismissed her ‘KonMari’ method immediately. Actually I think I laughed. How in the world can a family of seven – with children ranging in age from fifteen to one, POSSIBLY function without clutter? The quest for a clean house feels akin to that of the Holy Grail to parents of young children.
Our house, whilst having five bedrooms and two bathrooms, is about 19 squares. It is tiny, with one small open planned kitchen/dining/lounge area. The bedrooms are basic single bedrooms, except for two that are slightly roomier but still not what you would call spacious. Much to Master Z’s disappointment, we don’t have one of your typical ‘McMansions’, the upsized variety so common for today’s larger families. He dreams of living in a huge palatial manor-style house.
He can keep dreaming.
Our home is very small compared to modern standards, a factor I appreciate more and more each and every time I clean it.
I bought this house when I was on my own to escape the rental rat race – it was an entry-level dated 1960’s three bedrooms and one bathroom house. During the 2011 floods, it was completely inundated and we lost everything. In saying this, I must say we have done a truly outstanding job of accumulating a houseful of belongings since then. By October 2011, it had been completely rebuilt from bare bones, and is a far more modern and user-friendly residence now.
But it’s still small with very limited space and storage.
So I dismissed the Marie Kondo movement initially, thinking it was just too hard for us.
I was wrong.
While I am only just dipping my toe into the Marie Kondo waters, and have had to sidestep the principal tenet, which is to employ her method in an unyielding order and with exacting precision, I must say that I am seeing remarkable results. Three carloads of clutter gone already from only a couple of day’s worth of sorting and organising. I’m loving it – I feel like a new woman.
As you can imagine, decluttering with kids around is very difficult. I found I literally had a fight on my hands every time I touched toys with the view of ‘rehoming’ them. Realising the futility of the task in such a hostile environment, I enlisted the help of the ‘big guns’, packing the kids off to Grandee and Grandad for a visit. With the house consequently ‘unmanned’, I managed to go through the place with a fine-tooth comb.
I was ruthless.
Clothes that I’ve held on to for years ‘just in case’ – gone.
Toys that haven’t been played with for a while – gone.
Miscellaneous ‘things’: books, crockery and knick knacks that accumulate like fleas on dogs – gone.
Marie Kondo was right. I could feel my mental state improving with every bagful that left the house. My flurry of activity rivalled the keenest of contestants on ‘The Price is Right’ learning they finally had their chance to ‘Come on down’.
Who knew that all that extraneous ‘stuff’ could cause so much additional tension?
The woman is a genius.
Now, don’t get your hopes up for published photographs of my designer, minimalistic house, as I am in no way anywhere near that point. Nor will I ever have immaculately folded designer clothes that stand up by themselves in perfectly sectioned containers in their drawers as Ms Kondo advocates.
It looks marvellous, but seriously, who has the time for that? My place is a work in progress, and will continue to be so.
Let me say, however, that I have learned a few valuable home truths from this whole process that I will be acting upon in future.
Firstly, our kids have too many toys. Call me the Grinch, but next Christmas, we will be literally halving what we buy for them in terms of toys and ‘things’. Given all that they receive from extended family as well, they are spoilt rotten.
I would rather spend less, or deposit funds in a bank account for them to use later on in life than continue to laden them with plastic toys that inevitably, in true Toy Story style, end up being cast aside once a sought-after new toy enters the picture.
Secondly, we will be buying less clothes and shoes. For all of us. Every wardrobe and chest of drawers is brimming with near new, seldom worn items of clothing. It’s wasteful.
Thirdly, when I finally get around to reading a book again, I will be utilising my membership and joining the rest of my tribe at our local library.
So all you parents like me – if you haven’t yet welcomed Marie Kondo into your house, roll out the red carpet and give her a try.
You don’t know the serenity that awaits you!