Unless you've been living under a rock for the past couple years or so, you've likely heard at least a bit about the Japanese decluttering, organizing, housekeeping--whatever you want to call it--trend that's been taking the world by storm. It's known as KonMari, after the author of the hit book (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up) that spawned the whole sensation, Marie Kondo. And ladies and gentlemen, it's become HUGE. The following is almost cult-like. Which might be the first reason I'm not a fan; I tend to shy away from the hugely popular, for reasons even I can't quite define. If everyone is going crazy for it, I'm probably not.
Now, I'll start this by saying I haven't read the book, nor do I particularly intend to. Not reading much in this season of my life is a deliberate choice I've made, based on the fact that I tend to get sucked into a book and forget there's a world outside. Not the best idea when you have two toddlers in your care. ☺ I decided it was no longer acceptable to look up from my book and realize it's 8 p.m. and the children haven't had lunch yet. I love to read. But for now, it's a sacrifice I make to better care for my family. Not that reading the book is strictly necessary to understand the method. A quick Google search and membership in a related Facebook group or two can net you all the information you need to put the method into practice--or, in my case, realize it's not for you.
Now, if this method speaks to you, and it changes your life for the better, more power to you. But for me, there were a few problems. . .
The number one principle of the method seems to be to only surround yourself with items that "spark joy." It's like the catchphrase of the method. You declutter all your belongings--in one great big, marathon session--by grouping them all by category (say, all the books, all the dishes, all the clothes, etc.) and holding each item in your hand. If it doesn't "spark joy," out it goes.
Excuse me, what? Um. . .
I can think of a lot of items in my house that don't spark joy. But I can't just be throwing them out. Or donating or selling them either. My vacuum cleaner comes to mind. It might not spark joy--the emotion that comes to mind is more accurately described as "ugh"--but it's still pretty necessary. And I'm sure that the theory is probably that I should toss it, and buy a vacuum cleaner that does make me feel that spark. Ladies and gentlemen, I ain't got that kind of money. Pretty sure I'm not even acquainted with anyone who has that kind of money. Especially when you start adding up the necessary items in the average household that might need to be replaced if we suddenly got rid of all the ones we didn't absolutely love.
Would it be kind of nice to purge my house from top to bottom of all the things I don't love and replace them with items I do? Sure. Is it realistic. Not on your life. And I've considered this (because apparently I have that kind of time on my hands), and frankly, if I were to throw out all this stuff willy-nilly, who's to guarantee I could quickly find a joy-sparking replacement. My mismatched dishes don't inspire joy. But you know what? The ones that do are a discontinued pattern, and it's getting harder and harder to find replacements for them, at any price. So far, I haven't found a pattern that I love that's both easy to find and remotely affordable. So I soldier on with my mismatched Corelle and plastic kid plates.
Another consideration is that, unlike Ms. Kondo, I am not single. If my husband and I both agreed that our bath towels do not spark joy (and believe me, they don't, but you still gotta dry your bum), we would, in order for this to work properly, need to find bath towels that both of us love. One thing I realized early on in this relationship is we have drastically different tastes when it comes to home decor. There's usually a middle ground where we can happily meet, and he allows me a lot of latitude, don't get me wrong. But I do actually care if the house suits him as well as me. After all, we both have to live here. 😉
I'm also a mother. Now, some moms out there have had great success adapting this method to suit their homes. I still can't figure it out. The bins of kid clothes (in between sizes) taking up space in my closet do not spark joy. But they still have to stay, because I'll be darned if I'm buying an entirely new wardrobe every time one of these kids changes sizes! The Legos I keep stepping on do not spark joy. Quite the opposite. And yet, they stay.
A lot of people have loved the folding techniques that are a part of the method. Oh, yes. You have to relearn how to fold your laundry. You've been doing it all wrong, you see. Now, I do use a modified version of her shirt fold on my husband's t-shirts. It helps them fit the available drawer space better, which is the entire point behind how I fold literally everything. But as far as the rest goes? NO, okay? It's hard enough to get me to actually fold the darn laundry (a chore I find as enticing as a root canal) and put it away without telling me I have to learn how to do it all over again.
The last thing about the system that makes me raise my eyebrows is the practice of treating your inanimate possessions as if they were sentient beings. Did you just toss your pants on the floor? They don't like that; hang them up. Are you getting rid of something because it doesn't spark joy? Be sure and thank it as you put it in the donation box, for the time it has served you. Crazy organization guru say what? This mama has far too much on her mind. I can understand the value of appreciating your things and taking care of them. But I refuse to worry about whether or not the socks are tired because I folded them wrong.