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COLUMN: Marie Kondo inspires me to quit cleaning

The KonMari method is a decluttering and organization technique
Kim Kimberlin and her kids embrace the joy of not cleaning up. (2023. Photo submitted)

You may have seen a few headlines floating around about world-famous tidying expert, Marie Kondo, stating that she’s “kind of given up” when it comes to cleaning.

As a Kondo fan, I was relieved to hear this.

Marie Kondo started the KonMari method, a decluttering and organization technique that involves gathering all of your belongings and asking yourself whether those things “spark joy” for you or not. Then, belongings are categorized (clothes, dishes, books, stacks of papers, etc.), and the items that don’t spark joy you get rid of and the items that do spark joy you keep.

The results are believed to help reset your life, allowing you to feel inspired by your surroundings and have more time and energy to put into the things and people that matter the most to you, as stated on Kondo’s website.

The KonMarie method became popular after she published her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in 2011, which came out in Canada in 2014. In Jan. 2019, Netflix released her show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, a reality TV series where she helps others with an organizational home makeover.

I don’t recall how I first stumbled across her book; then again, the stumbling may have involved stumbling over a pile of my books. I do remember jumping on the Kondo bandwagon and feeling like my life was forever changed. I majorly downsized my belongings, keeping only the things that truly brought me joy.

Not only did my house begin to look clutter-free, but with fewer to-do items on my list, my mental clarity freed up.

That is until I had kids.

I didn’t try and go overboard, but when my son refused the first four brands of pacifiers (and I held onto them in case he changed his mind), and we were given more hand-me-downs than we needed, things quickly began to clutter. As the clutter increased, so too did my feelings of failure. I couldn’t keep up with the cleaning.

So has the tidying expert failed? Or has Kondo lowered her cleanliness bar to something that is attainable?

As Kondo stated on her website, “Just after my older daughter was born, I felt unable to forgive myself for not being able to manage my life as I had before. But, with time, I eased up on myself; then, after I gave birth to my second daughter, I let go of my need for perfection altogether. I am busier than ever after having my third child, so I have grown to accept that I cannot tidy every day – and that is okay!”

“Lowering the bar” can have negative connotations, so perhaps the language needed here is re-adjusting the bar to something achievable.

After all, life is messy, physically and metaphorically. That’s okay.

Life is also beautiful if we take the time to appreciate it.

Kondo reflected later in her blog post, “When I see my three little ones playing together, it brings so much joy to me and makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Instead of concentrating on clutter or pressuring myself to clean right then and there, I focus on the delight I feel in those present moments, knowing we can address any messes made later on.”

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Kim Kimberlin, Local Journalism Initiative

About the Author: Kim Kimberlin, Local Journalism Initiative

I joined Black Press Media in 2022, and have a passion for covering topics on women’s rights, 2SLGBTQIA+ and racial issues, mental health and the arts.
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