Thursday, November 5, 2015

Kondo Confusion

A few weeks ago I finally got my hands on a copy of Marie Kondo's major bestseller, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Despite being at the bottom of a very long library holds list, a friend who had purchased a copy had mercy and loaned it to me.

Because it's been all the buzz for months I had an idea of what to expect going into it. Keep only what sparks joy. Fold clothes to stand upright. Declutter by type of item instead of one room at a time. Some slightly eccentric suggestions {saying thank you and goodbye to each item you decide to part with, tones of eastern mysticism, stuff having feelings and energy, etc.}.

Over all, I enjoyed reading it and breezed right through. It's a quick read if it catches you in the right mood, and I adore reading up on all things domestic. There were lots of helpful ideas that I wouldn't have thought of on my own. I felt pretty inspired to do more serious decluttering... or in Kondo's terms, tidying.


Still, there were several points on which Kondo and I are going to have to agree to disagree. You can't argue with her results {out of hundreds and hundreds of personal clients she has helped to organize the homes of, not one has back slid into their messy ways}- but I am both confused and skeptical about a few things.

Marie Kondo is single and has no children. She advises cleaning up in one go {granted, she allows you about a 6 month period from start to finish}, and claims that once it is done it is done. Clearly the lady doesn't have children- life with kids is a constant tidying session. Just as soon as you switch one kid's clothes to the next size up, it is time to switch for another. And another. And another. Pretty much I am constantly shuffling clothes in various sizes for various children. And I only have three children!

Beyond clothing, children are stuff magnets. Every week my kids come home from Sunday School with 3 papers, at least one trinket from an object lesson, and other chotchkes. There are goody bags from parties, souvenirs from outings, stickers from doctors' offices, and frequent gifts from well-meaning folks. I need to point out that I have not bought a single toy for any of my children {that I can remember}, but we have toys coming out our ears. I am also constantly purging said chotchkes- as soon as a child loses interest, its gone. It is a constant process.

Kondo also tells would-be-tidiers to pull every like item out and put it on a big pile in the floor when deciding what to keep. For example, when you sort your clothing, collect every item of clothing that belongs to you from every corner of your house and put it in the pile.

This would be more fun than puddle jumping for my kids. I kept thinking that to accomplish tidying in the way that Kondo suggests, I would have to send my children away for a week at least. Since my mother lives cross country and I can't afford a magical nanny, emptying all of my shelves and cupboards onto the floor is just not an option.

I am stuck with some stuff that doesn't spark joy... and it has to be that way. So my couch that has a few holes and has been thrown up on countless times since having kids doesn't really "spark joy" for me. But a couch is pretty essential, and buying a new one isn't a line item in our budget at this time. If money wasn't a question, there are lots of things in my home I would love to get rid of and replace with a joy-sparking upgrade... but "I have learned in whatever state I am to be content."

A lot of our stuff doesn't make me feel happy, but is inherently useful. I think that William Morris' suggestion is more relevant and practical here: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." So I will stick with this when tidying, and not worry too much if looking at and touching every particular item in my home electrifies me with happiness.

Stuff is just stuff. It doesn't have feelings, it doesn't have energy, and I am not going to talk to it, or place too much value on what is perishable. This world is not my home, and one day all of my stuff is going to burn. While I can {and ought to!} take joy in the good things God has given me, I need to be setting my heart and mind on things above, where Christ is, and investing myself in things of eternal value {people's souls. the Word of God... and that's about it}.

I did like this book, and I would recommend it because it does take a unique and helpful approach to streamlining belongings and creating a home you love. These were my few qualms with it, and I know ya'll can read things with a grain of salt.

Have you read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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