I’ve come to terms enough with my own millennial-ness to admit to you, dear readers, that I suffer from a typical amount of FOMO, or fear of missing out, on the regular. I really like to feel I’m a part of something, even if that something happens on Netflix and plays out as the “in the know topic” on social media for a week or so, and I can laugh at it from behind my iPhone screen (Birdbox memes anyone?).
So, when everyone started to buzz about the show Tidying Up, I was intrigued.
For those of you who haven’t been following the hype, Tidying Up centers around a very sweet, perky, Japanese woman, Marie Kondo and her approach to cleaning out clutter from upper middle class homes. She (and her translator) visit couples and tackle their problems — both real and perceived — one room at a time by piling things up, holding them to see if they spark joy, and either keeping them (but arranging them differently) or tossing them after thanking them for their service.
Right away, I had to fight the urge to roll my eyes.
There was about a 0% chance I was going to start walking around muttering pleasantries to sweaters and notepads. It all seemed a little precious and woo woo. But since I do yoga, I use essential oils, I have a ring with moonstone in it, and I really love Stevie Nicks, I decided I was down with a little woo woo in the name of banishing some clutter and also having something witty to say if ever I was asked about KonMari-ing my underwear drawer.
I cannot KonMari. I cannot see my couch. I made a pile of clothes two weeks ago and we’re just laying in them to watch more Netflix and using the sofa as a closet. Fix it Jesus. Tidying Up, or at least the Marie Kondo version, has all turned into a big giant crap sandwich to me and here is why:
1. Not Everything Has To Spark Joy
Most everything in my house is here for a reason. I’m pretty editorial with what I buy for myself and my kids. Everything here has a purpose whether flashy or totally utilitarian and that’s okay. If I were to walk into my kitchen, grab my small plastic pasta strainer, and clutch it to my chest, you know what I’d feel? Looney because I’m hugging a kitchen appliance.
But I need it because now that I’m only cooking for one adult, two kids, and a toddler, I don’t always need the giant fancy metal one my grandma got me several years ago. It doesn’t make me feel anything in particular but it’s useful so here it is. Staying put. Which leads me to my next point…
2. What If We Just Bought Stuff We Actually Really Needed?
That might sound very judgy and I’m sorry not sorry but really…what if we didn’t impulse shop? After my grandma died about a year and a half ago, my mom, aunt, and I started going through her and my grandpa’s home. They had lived there since the early 1970s and their giant, immaculate house was packed to the gills behind closed drawers with So. Much. Stuff. It was a real eye-opener to all of us what can accumulate over a lifetime.
As a result, one of the ways I coped with my excessive grief was to go home and just start clearing out my own accumulated stuff, so my boys would never feel the same burdens we were feeling at that time. (I’m so thankful I did because not a year later, I’d find myself divorced and downsizing by 1000 square feet). And I found that doing this both on my own and at my grandparents’ estate made me really stop and think about my habits as a consumer, mainly because I am lazy and never wanted to have to clean out like that ever again. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect at this by any means, and still find myself slidin’ into the Dollar Spot like it was a DM, but for the most part I’ve learned to quell my urge to buy something just because it’s there.
3. I’m Not Really Sentimentally Attached to Much of Anything
My mom thinks she gave birth to a robot or that maybe I’m dead inside, but stuff for the most part, is just stuff to me. Learning to separate the memory that I have attached to a “thing” vs. the “thing itself” was so valuable in simplifying the material possessions in my home…
Y’all I used to DREAM about the day I could ever “arrive” enough to own a pair of Louboutins. I mean, salivate like a rabid dog over those expensive, red bottom, bloody shoes. (You just sang that like Cardi didn’t you?) Then I got a pair…eventually I had several pairs and you wanna know something? They are quite possibly the sexiest most uncomfortable shoes one will ever own. Sure, the first five minutes I put any of those suckers on my feet, I felt like Beyoncé’s hot lil white sister. But at the five minute one second mark I felt like my feet had been inserted directly into a meat grinder. No matter the size, style, or heel height Louboutins made me want to cry out in pain. So away they went to allow some other lady to feel like Beyoncé’s hot lil sis and frankly I’m happy I got rid of them for practical reasons (they won’t be the reason I am crippled one day) and because most of the men I have been interested in after my divorce have been maybe a few inches taller than me at best and y’all, my Louboutins were TALL. It’s hard enough dating after 30, twice divorced, with three kids without adding some weird height imbalance into the mix. Go with God, red bottoms, you no longer spark joy.
4. Some of the KonMari Methods Are Just Overwhelming
Here we are circling back to my couch again, because I just grabbed up all our outfits and slung them on my bed one day waiting for them to spark something in me. And they did: absolute dread. Apparently, clothing is void of joy for me and thus we should all be nudists.
Really though, I started this one Saturday on my kid-free weekend when the boys were with their dads. All was well until the pile hadn’t diminished in the slightest and I wanted to go to sleep. The pile, trip by trip, moved to the living room where I swore to myself I’d get to it the next day except I didn’t. Why? Because on my two kid-free weekends a month, I spark joy by leaving my house to run errands without bottles, blankets, Bear Bear, some library books, two tablets, extra diapers, cheese cubes, and a partridge in a pear tree. I spark joy by catching up on work I put aside because I couldn’t get it done with my kids home. I spark immense joy by sitting in bed until noon streaming British period dramas and drinking coffee until I’m visibly shaking in a totally quiet house.
I work hard. All mothers do, but I have no daily break, no off time, no partner to pick up the slack because I am a single mom. On top of that, I work from home so at least one kid is always with me most all the time. I love my kids and I’m so lucky to do what I do for a living and to spend the majority of my time with them, but I absolutely cherish my off weekend breaks and I’m totally unashamed to admit it. Piling up all our clothes just made me feel like I was really behind on laundry and now I have anxiety about when I will ever see the couch again.
5. Watching Some of These Husbands Made Me Insane
Maybe I’m the opposite of a Little Rascal, a She Woman Man Hater, so to speak after being on my own for nearly a year now. But watching the episode where the wife and mother with a new baby and a career felt like a failure because she couldn’t work, live, raise a newborn, and clean up after every soul in the house made me crazy crazy crazy. I just kept looking at the husband and saying, “Dear God man, what are you even doing?! Are you helpless!?” This poor woman was drowning, gasping for air, and her husband was sitting on the life preserver oblivious that she needed it.
No matter how many shirts you fold into perfect tiny squares, sis, you’re going to feel overwhelmed if you’re doing two people’s work. Bottom line. Cutting clutter seemed to be a tiny band aid on a Hoover Dam sized crack for a few of these marriages, and as someone with two failed marriages (for various reasons) it made me a little sad.
6. Keep Only 30 Books
Hahahahahahahahahaha okay bye, girl.
I feel a like KonMari was a big fat con in every sense for me and my household. If it works for you, that’s cool, but for me it just won’t ever be my thing. Fancy boxes will never make me feel intense, eye-closed-joy, over pencils or an eyelash curler and they certainly won’t inspire me to let a future partner slide on doing his fair share around the house. Hate me forever if you must…or if the fact that I refuse to worship at the shrine of Tidying Up doesn’t push you all the way there consider this: I also don’t like Melting Pot. (I mean, if I’m going to go out to eat I’m NOT going to cook my own food. Lord).