We seem to have a major problem in the world right now. It seems we’ve - shock, horror - forgotten how to tidy and clean. There’s a dearth of experts telling us how to declutter, what to clean with and how to generally make our homes happier. If it’s not Marie Kondo and her KonMari way of tidying, then it’s influencers like Mrs Hinch sharing her must-have cleaning products on Instagram.
The fact that Marie has a best-selling book and now her own TV show, and Mrs Hinch has 1.9 million of Insta fans demonstrates that these words of wisdom aren’t falling on deaf ears. In fact, their fans are positively evangelical about how these experts have changed their lives.
I am not one of them. Yes, I am going against popular opinion to say that this is a whole load of rubbish. We’ve been tidying and cleaning for years, so why do we suddenly need to be told how to do this? Have we become so lazy and idiotic we can’t work out that emptying overstuffed wardrobes and using a disinfectant will help make our house cleaner?
Maybe it’s because I’m a realist that I don’t buy into this current trend. Also, I like my house to look lived in. Yes, there are times I would appreciate a little less mess, but a too tidy, too clean house to me is soulless. I want to see my son’s muddy football boots lying in the hallway. I want that collection of books and magazines on the coffee table. So what if there are some weights and kettlebells behind the door? I don’t care if a corner of my house is taken up with Marvel superhero figures. This shows my life, my loves, my passions (well, mostly my son’s passions) and I love seeing these far more than boxes of stuff.
However, I’m not one to knock something until I try it, so with this in mind, I tuned into Tidying Up With Marie Kondo on Netflix and followed her key steps to see if it would bring me great joy…
1. Throw away everything that doesn’t spark joy
This is at the heart of everything Marie does. She doesn’t want us keeping things that don’t make us happy or that we’re not grateful for. At some level I get this. Why keep cereal bowls that have cracks on them? Or those shoes that pinch after walking in them half an hour? However, my first attempt at this on my wardrobe didn’t go too well. Once I’d got through my giant pile of clothes, I hardly had anything left - and what I did have didn’t go with anything.
At the end of the day, those clothes that spark joy – the sexy dress, the red heels, the leopard print jumpsuit – aren’t really what I’d call wardrobe staples. Decluttering this way I almost threw away my trusty black French slogan Whistles sweatshirt and a simple black polo neck. Neither particularly spark joy but they do go with absolutely blummin’ everything in my wardrobe. They’re practical, not joyful, but surely practical deserves a place in our lives? So I start this experiment really confused. What came next didn’t help…
2. Fold everything – the KonMari way
Marie doesn’t believe in hanging up clothes, which is fine if, unlike me, you have more than two drawers in your house. I can barely fit my undies, socks and nightwear in there. Plus, I have fitted wardrobes with lovely big mirrors on them – they definitely spark joy and are going nowhere fast Kondo.
Desperate for a chance to try her revolutionary folding method (can you even call folding that?), I decide to overhaul my jeans, which sit in cute wire boxes on the top shelf of my wardrobe. I spend a good 10-15 minutes folding them and storing them away. Mission accomplished. All is well until I actually needed to find a pair. Having them folded away into little cubes is all very well and space saving, but when you’re looking for that pair of jeans with a frayed hem, it’s bloody annoying. Especially first thing in the morning when you’re half asleep and trying to get yourself and the small boy ready for the day. Marie would not have been happy to see the chaos I left behind in my wake that day – it was like an explosion in a jeans factory. Needless to say, I’ve gone back to my old method…
3. Tidy by category, not area
I kind of liked this idea - she types begrudgingly! It’s so easy to try and sort out one room and then get overwhelmed because there’s so much to do. Marie instead advises to sort by category – clothes, books, paperwork, miscellaneous stuff and sentimental stuff. I got through the first three categories in no time, however, I realised nearly all my stuff comes under the fourth category - miscellaneous. This was especially true when sorting out small boy’s room. While we did get rid of five bin bags to charity and another two to the dustbin, it literally took me all day. Plus, try explaining the concept of sparking joy to a small child…‘But everything in my room gives me joy, mum.’ ARGH!
4. Do it all in one go
Has Marie not got a job? Who has time to declutter their house in one swoop? This is apparently so you can see the results quicker and then keep your house that way. One poor couple on the TV show had small children and were absolutely knackered because they stayed up all night doing this. While doing my son’s room in one day was great and helped him fall in love with his bedroom again, I actually have a life, so I’m choosing my method, which I call ‘the when I have 10 minute spare’ method. It does work even if it does take time, especially because I have been following Marie’s recommendation to ditch before I tidy. Throwing stuff out you don’t want is a lot easier than tidying. Soon I’ll be living in a sparse, but messy house – surely some improvement on overflowing and messy?
5. Envision your ideal lifestyle
In theory I love this idea. After all, I’m the queen of Pinterest with way too many boards on how I’d love my dream house to look. Interestingly, all my pins feature quirky homes, stuffed with trinkets and look lived in, so perhaps I’m already doing this. At the end of the day, what little clutter we have in our house, doesn’t really affect me. OK, so our attic is stuffed to rafters with stuff, but out of sight, out of mind eh? Marie Kondo doesn’t teach you that little gem, right.
I’m all for people helping others to change their lives, but Marie just hasn’t really done it for me. I have howeer learnt how to fold a fitted sheet, which is great. Not life-changing, but super helpful. Perhaps these tidy experts don’t connect with me because I’m not a hoarder and naturally get rid of what I don’t want? Perhaps it’s because I value other things over having a super tidy house? Perhaps it’s because instead of decluttering every night I want to live a life? And, as we all know life isn’t tidy, life doesn’t always spark joy and we sometimes we can’t just fold things away neatly – and that’s how I like it!