Confessions of a KonMari Failure



Have you ever read Confessions of A Shopaholic? It’s one of my favorite books. It’s not that Sophie Kinsella is some kind of literary genius, although well-written chick-lit is really hard to come by. I love it because the main character, Rebecca Bloomwood, is one of the first characters I really connected with as an adult.  While reading this book, I was reading about my very flawed and undisciplined- but hopefully still lovable, self.

Rebecca went shopping when she was happy. She went shopping when she was upset. She went shopping when there were sales, and when there were no sales. Despite her kindness and intelligence, Rebecca Bloomwood’s lack of self-control seemed to have the biggest impact on her life. She received bill after bill and maxed out credit card after credit card. Before she knew it, her shopping habit got her in a pinch that was almost impossible for her to escape.  

And then there’s me. Not as extravagant as Rebecca but I do love getting a little something here and there. It cheers me up. The kids are impossible? I shop. The kids understood a hard math concept? I get them little reward. Our tooth fairy puts everyone else’s to shame. I love any excuse to shop. Why is that so bad anyway? Well, it’s not when you are single and have approximately 3 bills but add some more people to your life and things start to change. Even though my taste isn’t as expensive as my literary counterpart’s, my retail therapy habit caught up with me, too.

My husband and I have 4 kids, ages 9, 7, 6 and 2. We homeschool, meaning we are home, a lot. Oh, and our home? It’s on the small side, 1095 sq/ft and we all share one bathroom. A few months ago, in the middle of a meltdown (of my own, not my kids’- ironically), I looked around and knew something had to change. I hit rock bottom. I felt like I was suffocating, and I wanted nothing more than to throw everything away and start completely over. 

To help me through my despair, I bought something. A good something. A little book that promised to teach me “The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up”. In this book, Marie Kondo shares with us her passion for organization. She knows what she’s talking about because she has been organizing all her life. When she was 5 she would organize and reorganize her and her family members’ belongings. For fun. She would stay inside during recess to rearrange bookshelves. I mean, this woman is fascinating. Otherworldly, even. Her quest for organization led her to create the KonMari method. 

What I appreciated most about the book was the support of making this a huge project. Make it a huge project, because it IS a huge project. Marie vehemently disagrees with those who encourage you to do a little at a time, and who coddle you by saying perfection is unattainable. She says:

So I can tell you from experience that you will never get your house in order of you only clean up halfheartedly. If, like me, you are not the diligent, persevering type, then I recommend aiming for perfection just once.”

That really spoke to me. Not enough for me to really dive in head first, but I did declutter my hallway which a close friend lovingly referred to as a fire hazard. I’ll take that small win. Marie goes on to say:

The key is to make the change so sudden that you experience a complete change of heart. The same impact can never be achieved if the process is gradual.

This makes complete sense! So, I need to find a weekend or a good chunk of time to really tackle this. While homeschooling 4 kids. While they are in the house. Big house project while four kids under 10 were in the same, small house. Yeah, ok, Marie. I’d like to see you try that one. So even though I completely agreed with her, I put the book away and decided to figure out the logistics of tidying up at a later time. 

Fast forward 4 months, Marie Kondo explodes on to the Netflix scene in full force. People are organizing and purging and inspired to get the excess “stuff” out of their homes and minds. My friends are now using KonMari as a verb. “I’m about to KonMari this, do you want it?” Or, “Is anyone KonMari-ing a nightstand?” 

I watched the show with my husband. Ok, I watched it mostly on my own. My husband gave up when she started thanking the house. It’s fine, she is adorable and very gracious to inanimate objects. Everyone has their quirks. After like 6 1/2 straight hours of watching other people get their homes in order, I finally felt ready to tackle my own.

Step 1: clothes.

Does this spark joy? Yes. Keep pile.
Does this spark joy? Yes. Keep pile.
Does this spark joy? Yes. Keep pile.

This goes on for quite some time. “Ok so this is not going the way it goes on the show,” I say to myself. My 9-year-old overhears and determined to encourage my efforts says, “Mom you’re doing great! Is that your keep pile?” He points the much smaller pile of the 2. “Um, no that’s my discard pile.” “Oh.” My failure silenced the chattiest of chatterboxes.

What is happening here? Oh gosh, am I like the woman with drawers full of gorgeous scarves and 20 boxes of magazines? I flopped back on my remaining pile of clean, unfolded laundry and mulled it over. I felt exhausted. Why is this process making me so tired? I’m not even moving much. Just standing here, deciding what sparks joy and what doesn’t. 

Then it clicked: this process is too emotional. Emotional shoppers can not become emotional purgers. 

Relying on my own joy is kind of what got me into this mess in the first place, so it really shouldn’t be trusted.

As much as I want this to be an excuse as to why I should give up on this huge project, we are still drowning in stuff so I need to move forward somehow. In order to succeed, I need to ask different questions:

                    How often do I use/wear/read this?
                    How many things do I have that serve this purpose?
                    How many things do I NEED to serve this purpose?
                   Does this have a good home?

Marie is onto something great here. Learning to live with less stuff is something most Americans can benefit from. If you think the ‘find joy’ thing is hokey, just change it so it works for you. Or don’t. Do whatever brings you joy. I hope in a few months I can look back at this moment as the moment that our lives were changed by the magic of tidying up.

But really? It may be nothing more than a time our family can look back on and laugh. “Hey, remember when Mom watched that lady who thanked people’s houses and then cried over a pile of laundry she didn’t want to fold or get rid of?” “Classic.” Either way, thanks for the memories, Marie.

Picture of many pairs of shoes in a laundry basket with words "Confessions of a KonMari Failure"


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