This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you make a purchase using one of these links.
The new Netflix show, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” is making waves all around the world. But is it really helpful or worth watching? I’ll admit, I decided a few years ago that I wasn’t a fan of her methods. I thought that Marie Kondo’s methods were a bit stiff, stuffy and perfectionistic after reading her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Now, after watching the first season of the show, I can say…I may have been a bit mistaken. Here are 6 life-changing lessons from Tidying Up.
What Is Tidying
Marie Kondo’s method is centered on a few basic principles–empty your spaces, evaluate your items one by one, and keep only the ones that spark joy–that give you happy, positive feelings.
Once you decide what to keep or toss, she instructs people to neatly organize those items in boxes or drawers, folding neatly and keeping like items together.
For the most part, her techniques are basic decluttering and organizing methods. Much of the instruction she gives on the show, and in her book, centers on how to keep things neat and put away. Excellent advice for anyone getting started.
Where most people get lost is in her particular practices, but, those are what makes her unique. You don’t have to follow all her exact methods. Take the structure and go with what works for you!
The Life-Changing Magic
After reading the book, I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t even try folding anything. I thought it was ridiculous and a waste of time. After watching the show, and then working with an organizing client myself who chose to fold her clothes and linens, I was inspired to finally try it.
I was shocked.
- Folding was simple (I thought it would be hard)
- Folding was calming and peaceful (I thought it would frustrate me)
- Folding leaves drawers beautiful instead of bursting!!
Now, my folding job wasn’t perfect by any means. I highly doubt I used the right technique. And I may go back and study how she does it, or I might just keep doing it my way, because it works just fine. But, regardless, my kitchen towels, socks, and kids clothes are neat, visible and tidy.
I’ve been converted to folding!
The Power of Story
Since I’m already familiar with decluttering and organizing, (see my minimalism journey), the most powerful learning experience was watching the stories of the individuals and families as they went through this process.
Organizing is intensely personal. Your circumstances and experiences take you on a particular path that is all your own. The stuff in our homes reflects so much of our lives–our state of mind, our physical health, and who we are as people.
I love watching and reading people’s stories. Seeing how they worked out the vision they wanted for their home and their lives was amazing, beautiful and inspiring.
Observing how they wrestled with difficult and sentimental items, overcame fear and grief, and learned how to work together as a family helps you to see that in many ways, decluttering and organizing is actually very therapeutic for the soul.
I’m amazed at how quickly these families got their homes in order. But it’s also important to remember that it’s TV. You don’t have to declutter and organize in 30 days. Or 60 days, or 6 months. There is no ideal timeline–you set the goals and the pace!
Does it Spark Joy
Of course, Marie is most famous for “Does it spark joy?”. I’ve always loved that concept. It is so important that we love and feel joyful about the items that we keep, especially in the area of clothing, memorabilia, sentimental items and miscellaneous things.
I will say, there are a lot of things in the home, however, that you have because of function and not joy. I would not suggest tossing anything that doesn’t spark joy, but rather looking for creating spaces that spark joy and make you feel at peace in areas of the home like the bathrooms, kitchen, mudroom/entryway, etc. Items of function have to still function, even if it’s not joyful!
But truly if we asked ourselves for most of our personal items that we have, if we really love it or just own it to own it, we are setting ourselves on a self-reflective path to understanding why we buy material goods and why these things take up space in our homes.
Taking It Into the Future
Perhaps the most impactful phrase Marie spoke in this series for me, also seemed to change the mindset of many of the individuals on the show. When they were having difficulty with items that spark joy, she asked a follow-up question.
“Is this something that you want to take into your future?”
This is key.
The entire point of decluttering is to evaluate the items in your home and decide exactly that. Does this particular item serve me now and does it align with the vision I have for my home and life? Is this part of where I’m going forward?
So many questions you can ask yourself. And they are all important. If something doesn’t line up with the changes and vision you have for your life, it doesn’t belong in your life anymore.
Gratitude & All That Jazz
One of the most controversial aspects of Marie’s methods is that when you let go of an item, you are supposed to hold it and thank it for serving you.
I’m all about gratitude, but, I’ll admit I don’t really take to talking to my house or my stuff. I’ll thank God for my home and my stuff, but it’s not really my thing to thank my items.
I do understand the concept behind saying out loud that you learned something from that item and are grateful you had it, but it’s definitely not a practice everyone feels comfortable doing. That’s totally okay!
Taking Care of Your Stuff
As a mom to a very active young child, I’m still trying to figure out how to teach her to respect and care for the items in our home. Taking care of our things means they will last longer and spark more joy. It’s not a natural concept for most kids!
Interestingly, my daughter loves to fold. As I was folding my socks the other day, she sat down beside me and asked to help. I showed her how to lay each sock flat, smooth it out, and gently fold them.
She copied exactly what I did! I was shocked, and it reminded me that I am the example to her. What I do, she will do. What I model, she will learn.
I don’t expect our house to be tidy all the time. Because it won’t be. But in teaching her how to identify the most meaningful of items and how to take care of her things and respect other people’s things, she will learn life skills that will serve her well in life. And by being mindful to practice and model those skills, I will be making those practices habits with sticking power.
Is the Show Worth Watching?
For anyone who likes watching the process of decluttering and organizing, this show is an insightful view into the stories and struggles that the process brings.
For anyone who wants to pick up some basic instruction on how to organize your house and get started, there are definitely some tips and inspiration to get you started.
Be aware that she does set some “rules” that you may not want to follow (such as owning only 30 books). Be okay with that–take what resonates with you–leave the rest.
If watched with an open and discerning mind, I think the show is worthwhile for anyone interested in these topics, or who is curious to learn more about Marie’s methods.