I was born messy. Trails of receipts and loose change follow
me wherever I go. When I was a teenager, you couldn't see the wooden floors of
my bedroom under all the CDs and books scattered everywhere. My drawers
overflowed with clothing I hadn't worn in years but couldn't part with, small
scraps of paper scrawled with poetry and even my ancient sticker collection.
Since becoming a reluctant adult, and then a parent, I've
worked hard to tame my cluttered ways. I've hired professional organizers, and
I've attended 12-step meetings for messiness. I've read books and subscribed to
email listservs, all promising they could fix my problems with clutter. I've hauled
hundreds of pieces of clothing and fabric and books to Goodwill.
No matter what
I do, though, my house always looks like it's just been ransacked.
I zoomed through the book in a few days. While inspiring, my
overriding thought was, "Marie clearly does
not hang with small children." She barely mentions toys in her book but
rather includes a mysterious category entitled komono, which, as far as I can tell, makes up 93 percent of the clutter in
Despite my cynicism, I followed Kondo's suggestion and
headed first to my closet. Propping my preschooler up on my bed to watch
disturbing videos of grown women squealing over My Little Pony toys, I set to
Getting rid of anything that doesn't "spark joy"—Kondo's
litmus test—was fairly easy. Old jeans that didn't fit or looked like they'd
been devoured by moths didn't spark any joy. I set up a big cardboard box and tossed in several
pairs of pants. In went a pretty, raspberry-hued jacket that is far too professional
for my life as a mom and writer. In went the black flats I've never really
liked and the import purse that looks like it's hiding a secret stash of
Within less than an hour, I'd gotten rid of nearly 1/3 of
the contents of my closet.
I have yet to master Kondo's suggestion to fold up clothing
in tiny rectangles tight enough that they can easily stand on end in your
But with my closet looking much neater and more spacious,
I'm excited to tackle other sections of the house.
Kondo's book is motivating. Her words helped me eject pieces
of clothing I've been hemming and hawing over for years. Despite my inherent
slovenliness, I fantasize about living in a streamlined, peaceful home, and I'm
reinvigorated to move closer to that ideal.
But I'd argue that the tidying up—which is really
decluttering—Kondo speaks of is a process, not an event. Especially with young
children in the house. The constant stream of party favors, school papers and
food waste that comes with kids means that the tidying up is never truly over.