How a woman from Japan who loved to clean changed my life for the better
If you haven’t heard of Marie Kondo, she is an amazing woman who is the queen of tidying. She is also the woman who had given me increased headspace to survive the day to day of being a mom. As Wikipedia explains: Kondo’s method of organizing is known as the KonMari method, and consists of gathering together all of one’s belongings, one category at a time, and then keeping only those things that “spark joy” and choosing a place for everything from then on.
I first discovered her through my husband. I noticed he was head down in his Kobo head every night and I was curious to know what book he was into (note: we are both avid readers and like to share a good book). I was confused/shocked/impressed when he showed me the title The Art of Tidying Up and explained it was a ‘how to’ book. This was very different than our usual fiction genre.
He was so excited to put the lessons into action – I went along the ride and got so much out of it. It’s a whole process of organizing your life and tells you which order you need to start. For me, it was my biggest problem area – clothes, purses, shoes and jackets. As women, clothes can be our best friend (skinny jeans that fit!) and worst enemy (why aren’t the spanks getting rid of my lumps and bumps in this skirt!).
My closet was typical – I owned real estate in almost every closet in the house. My formal dresses hung along with my son’s 17 Habs jerseys (hubby is a fan), my jackets in basement storage by the boxes of diapers and the shoes – sigh the shoes. This category makes me sad because I was so thankful when my feet didn’t grow after pregnancy (a fact that I was terrified about) but they were just forever changed – something about their shape or width or the bones – I have no idea. But it means that my favourite and most comfortable heels, boots, wedges or sandals never fit the same. Yet I held on to them, like art – to be adored from a distance, but never to be touched. Collecting dust, but looking beautiful. Sigh (again).
Okay, back to tidying! We sent the kids off to the grandparents’ house and started the process. Here’s how it went down:
Step 1: pull items from every corner of the hours and place them in one room. This was a feat on its own. It’s very terrifying to see your closets empty and all clothes and shoes piled up to the ceiling. Yikes!
Step 2: touch each item and see if it sparks joy for you. No talking, no rationalizing, no negotiating. This was HARD. I kept breaking this rule telling myself, “what if I lost the baby weight”, “I love this sweater even though it’s pilled”, “This dress is so pretty, even though it fits funny”, “if I throw everything out, I won’t have any clothes: . Marie’s advice here is to focus on what we want to keep versus what we aren’t keeping. So 4 hours later I had 7 garbage bags of items that didn’t spark any joy in my life.
Step 3: Put all of your ‘joyful’ items back in the closet with the KonMari method. This whole process was already great, but then we got to put the very plentiful pile of clothes back in the closet – pants and shirts in this very specific vertical way where you can physically see all of your clothing options laid out. It even applied to socks! She explains that the socks shouldn’t be folded over on one another but rather laid flat. It took some getting used to, but it actually does make a difference.
So It’s been about 3 months since we started our Mary Kondo ways – we’ve since done our paperwork and then will move onto books next – I was a bit skeptical at first, but I LOVE it. My closet is no longer ‘barfing’ clothes all over the place, our bedroom has been SO much cleaner and I can pick my outfits for work or play in 60 seconds flat. Seriously. No more trying on 100 outfits – everything in my closet is a fav outfit and it fits!
The largest benefit has been clearing my mind of the extra clutter of what to wear or the shame of throwing piles of clothes onto a closet (or shove them under the bed before a playdate) and always trying to clean up after myself. It allowed me to have mindfulness around meal planning and just keeping the children alive and happy – what a novel idea!
Written by Karen Bhangoo
Karen is a busy mom of two kids, trying to not just survive each day with them, but thrive by living in the moment and finding the positive. Professionally, she’s a communication or marketing pro working for over a decade in public relations, sports sponsorship and internal communications. She is happily married, appreciates a good grammar joke, and adores Oprah.