Marie Kondo famously loves mess. But she’s lost interest in cleaning it up.
Kondo, the Japanese businesswoman who established herself as a tidying-up mogul with books and Netflix series, is now a mother of three – and discovered that there’s more to life than keeping a house perfectly clean and compartmentalized.
“Up until now, I was a professional tidier, so I did my best to keep my home tidy at all times. I have kind of given up on that in a good way for me. Now I realize what is important to me is enjoying spending time with my children at home,” she recently said during a webinar and virtual tea ceremony The Washington Post attended.
True joy in life is all about balance, according to therapists, so it’s best to figure out what works for you rather than go on a tidying tirade.
‘If Marie Kondo gives up, then so do I’
- People on social media, of course, erupted at the thought of not needing to adhere to strict cleanliness advice.
- “If Marie Kondo gives up, then so do I,” one Twitter user wrote. And another: “The screenshot of that Marie Kondo headline about ‘giving up’ tidying after having three kids has taken over the mom internet like nothing I’ve ever seen.”
- “A lot of the parents I follow on social media had a very schadenfreude reaction,” says Regine Galanti, a clinical psychologist.
‘It’s just impossible to do everything’
Cleaning up can serve as a way to feel in control. But with kids running around or other similar obligations, that’s not always possible. “It no longer works, because you can’t put the time into taking care of your children, being present with them, giving to them and at the same time having a house that’s always tidy,” says Anna Marcolin, a psychotherapist and personal development life coach. “It sets up an expectation for us that feels unrealistic.”
And whether someone is a parent or not, life has a way of getting busier by the second.
“It’s just impossible to do everything,” Galanti adds, “so something has to give. And I think people are very hard on themselves when they literally can’t do everything. But it makes no sense that they should be able to do everything.”
Finding the balance with clutter
Focus on balance over perfection. A little clutter over a prim and proper house, for example.
“When people are coming over, nobody really cares how your house looks,” Marcolin adds. “But if you find that the clutter is driving you crazy, choose one or two rooms in your house where the kids can just be totally free to make a mess and be creative and be in the moment and you can spend time with them and then find time, at some point throughout the day when you could clean up a little bit.”
Galanti suggests plotting out competing values. Taking care of kids and a job might take precedence over tidiness.
“Being organized and clean is a value,” she says. “So you only have room for focusing on so many values at a time.”
Find what ‘sparks joy’
Granted, people likely took Kondo’s suggestions too far to begin with.
“It’s so sad to see people dunking on Marie Kondo again, because her message was never ‘keep your house spotless and throw everything out,’ it was always ‘keep things you really like and don’t feel guilt for letting go of things you don’t,'” wrote one Twitter user. Another user added: “I think that (a) focusing on the things that spark joy in your life is in fact the essence of Marie Kondo and (b) I seriously doubt Marie’s house is a mess.”
Either way, Marcolin appreciates if some feel the bar is a little lower now. “It’s a high bar, and I think that the bar came down just a little bit,” she adds. “It allows for most of us to achieve it.”
Now that’s what really “sparks joy,” doesn’t it?
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