Attempting the KonMari Method
I fully admit to not keeping the tidiest household. Clean for the most part, but ‘organized and tidy’ only happens when my mother-in-law has spent a weekend with us. My family of 5 mostly lives somewhere between semi-organized chaos and a tornado’s path of destruction. You can tell the season by the type of cleats and sports equipment strewn in the entryway and my car, well, my car is a locker room on wheels. I’m embarrassed to admit that much of our “quality time” is spent looking for things and bickering over who moved said things.
I was intrigued when “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” popped up in my Netflix suggestions -- because what better way to procrastinate doing the tidying than to watch other people tidy their own homes? My intent was to enjoy watching the TV families rummage through their own junk (turns out both emotional and actual junk!), but found myself inspired by Marie’s tiny t-shirt squares and use of boxes to wrangle junk drawers into little bento box pieces of art.
I wasn’t ready to commit to doing my entire house at once but decided I could manage one small room and decided to take on the master bathroom while the husband was napping and the kids and dogs were busy demolishing some other area of the house. Instead of committing to Marie’s method of piling up ALL clothes or ALL books or ALL papers from the entire house, I decided one room would be fine for now and if I could master one small room, maybe, just maybe, I could tackle other areas of the house with some sense of accomplishment. The bathroom and closet still had plenty of clothes, books, papers and miscellaneous stuff that needed tidying, giving me plenty to work with.
Start Them Young
It’s difficult as a mom to adopt the idea of only dealing with your own belongings when you’re used to managing everyone’s stuff, picking up after everyone, and then telling the whole family where they can find everything. The KonMari Method applies the idea that even toddlers can learn early on to tidy up, and older kids are capable of taking on their own messes and may even come to appreciate what they have and take better care of their belongings. As someone guilty of moving other family members’ stuff and then forgetting where I put them, I was looking forward to shifting the responsibility over to my small and messy roommates and their dad.
Tackling THE Closet
I spent several hours going through my master bath and closet, then got bold and moved on to the hallway linen closet. This was my biggest feat yet. I use the word “linen” loosely because this cupboard also housed a few old laptops, a box of photos, a first aid kit and a sewing kit next to the towels and linens that actually belonged in there. The bathroom cupboard was second only to the linen closet, and had all sorts of things from books (I had to hide 50 Shades somewhere away from nosey little people!) to makeup and hair products, to 4 different kinds of electric clippers my bald husband somehow requires. This is what I did -- I separated our bathroom things into two different drawers and two shelves, a space for him and his man stuff and a shelf for me with my things. I told him he was in charge of keeping the newly created space tidy and to go through his own clothes (hint hint, get rid of the t-shirts that went to boot camp with you 100 years ago that still have your name written in them!). So far, we’re a few weeks in and we are both maintaining our own area and I haven’t heard any, “Where are the clippers?” which has been nice. I’m still waiting for him to get rid of the old t-shirts, but at least I know my clothes, purses, and shoes have been weeded out and donated to the Disabled Veterans of Minnesota, an organization that has handy drop off locations in our area and I trust they are putting things to good use.
A Little Bit of Give
My tidying and organizing frenzy took hold and leaked over into the kid’s bathroom (I know, it’s their space, they should do it, but I use that bathroom too and tidy would be a welcomed change when I’m trying to relax in their tub!) and I went a little nuts in the kitchen, but why do we own 4 sets of mixing bowls and two versions of the same knock-off Easy Bake Oven?
I admit I freaked when it came down to the first week of maintenance. Knowing the time I had put into making everything look so pretty and tidy but in the process forgot to consider that my 12-year-old son is in charge of doing the dishes and tidying the kitchen and my 13-year-old daughter is responsible for folding and putting away laundry. The kids did their chores, but put the towels in their old spot, folded in the old way, and not in the new designated spot in the fancy rolled up Marie Kondo way. After hours of moving dishes here and mixing bowls there, my blood pressure spiked when I opened the cupboard and saw that my son had shoved dishes wherever he could and the bento box kitchen tool drawer had returned to its former disheveled glory. I realized because the kids weren’t part of the process, they didn’t have any ownership in maintaining the tidiness. I have started including them in the process so they A) know where things go and B) feel a sense of pride when they completely clean and organize a mess of a cupboard or closet.
The Beginning of the Journey
I still have plenty of house yet to go, and my kids and husband still haven’t done their closets or drawers, but after bringing them into the process bit by bit, everyone is being more mindful of maintaining the tidiness and even seem to appreciate the things they have and the mountain of things we have donated. I no longer need to spend the first 30 minutes I get home from work putting things away and don’t immediately jump on everyone for leaving the house a mess.
Appreciating What We Have
After donating several bags of clothes and “things”, I’m not in a big hurry to go replace those them with more stuff. There is just no point in it. We can appreciate the blessings we already enjoy. As far as any deep-rooted emotional attachment to things or discovering a deep seeded meaning behind our messy home, I am either in denial or haven’t yet been enlightened. I think it stems from being busy and happy and enjoying life, rushing kids to practices and seeing them smile in the sunshine out on whatever field the season calls for. Now, we just put our cleats and equipment in their proper places when we do have time at home.
About the Author:
Jen Flickinger is a full time working mom of 3 busy kids. Married to a USMC and Army National Guard Veteran, Jen was drawn to the sturdiness and prettiness of the Sword & Plough Signature tote which fits her laptop, her purse, her daily essentials, and several softballs.