Kondo is a Verb

Kondo is a Verb

There is a movement sweeping the nation – and I didn’t even know about it less than a week ago...and it’s legit changing my life for the better.

I’ve been Kondo’ed.


Let me start by saying that I already had plans to clean out for the new year. I think a lot of us do that, right? (Or at least those of us with mild-to-extreme cases of OCD!) Maybe it’s something about the influx of new toys from the holidays, as well as the cabin fever that inevitably sets in when the said recipients of those toys do not have school, giving them even more time to destroy anything that is somewhat clean and nice in the house. So, I had actually already begun my efforts to declutter and re-organize my house – who am I kidding  – my life! – when a friend told me about the show on Netflix, Tidying up with Marie Kondo.

I remember when her book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up came out. I might even own a copy of it somewhere amongst my thousands of books; I have no idea. (Clearly, I need to tidy those bad boys up, huh?) I do know that I never read it, but I also know how messes make me cringe, so it seems like it would have appealed to me. That being said, when said friend was talking about it I thought the whole thing seemed a little crazy - but who am I to judge? My interest was definitely piqued. So sure enough that same night, when my need to have-something-on-television-while-I-do-something-else arose, I put on her show and watched the very first one, “The Friend Family.” Like me, they had two small children. Okay, I thought, we have that in common. But unlike my own, their house was much more cluttered and much more messy. I must be doing something right, I thought to myself. (Clearly, I do judge, which is not right and I should work on that.)

I kept watching and learned that Marie puts everything into five categories:

1.    Clothes
2.    Books
3.    Papers
4.    Kimono (everything else)
5.    Sentimental

At first, I thought the kimono category seemed too big and overwhelming to be just one category, but maybe that’s just the category I need the most help with. Or maybe I really need help with all of it, but you have to start somewhere!

Marie also recommends that you only keep an item if it sparks joy. To me, this sounded like a bunch of bologna. Does this back scratcher spark joy? (Actually, yes it does.) Does this shirt spark joy? (Honestly it reminds me of my plump postpartum days, so no.) So while I initially thought this concept was a bunch of hokey, I actually found it kind of made sense to me once I started applying it.

I had already started cleaning out my home office, so I decided utilizing Marie Kondo’s method in there was a good place to start. Our office at home is like our dumping ground of stuff and I have to keep the door closed or it gives me anxiety to even walk by it.  Benjamin and I share it, so basically we each have one side of the room with our desk and shelf area. I have the usual item’s- papers upon papers upon papers, some books, some photos, my iPad lives in there – and then, it starts to get crazy. I have piles and piles of child artwork. My daughter is like the black hole of art, it just never stops. It comes home with her daily, and she often stays up too late every night busily working away on even more. It might be pictures or books or new redesigned clothes for Barbie. Honestly who knows what she will get the inkling to create but let me tell you, that kid likes to create. This means I then, somehow, have to determine what is worth keeping and what can be tossed. One problem I run in to is that if I throw her art away and she sees it in a trash can, she gets VERY upset with me, so I have to throw it away on the sly. Another problem I have is the kid remembers everything, so she will often ask me to go find some creation from two weeks ago that I may or may not have kept. So I find it’s best to keep things for some amount of time in case it does come up again. The resulting situation is an aArt overload,  my friends.

I love paper and stationary, so I tend to purchase a lot of notecards and things in that realm that appeal to me. They remind me of trips I’ve been on, people I know, things I love. My stationary and note cards definitely spark joy in me – but I just have them stored in baskets somewhat haphazardly. First, I went through my beloved stationary and organized it standing up in boxes so I could see it well, per Marie’s recommendation. Now when I make a choice, I can see all of my options really well and am able to hone in on the one that seems best for the recipient. It seems like such a small thing but it truly has made a huge difference. I can scan through the cards easily and quickly now, and I really do feel like a spark of joy when I think, “Oh! I will send Marcie a note on this dancing lemon card, this will make her smile.” Being able to see said dancing lemon card and all of its friends well makes me feel good.

Next, I gathered up all the random art strewn across the desk and put it in its own box. It’s in a large Rubbermaid-type bin that I slid under the desk, and I can easily add to it. My plan is to go through the art and decide what I can save and what I can toss. I want to date the art as needed and save it chronologically, so that I can easily just add in as we go. (Please tell me that kindergarten = less artwork coming home on a daily basis????) I think this will be sentimental to me, and Marie says to do that last, so I still have to come back to this effort. But for now the art has a home, and so I feel like that’s a start.

Marie also says it’s best to group by category, so as I went through all the papers on my desk, I found I was able to categorize them pretty easily. Some could be filed. Some could be tossed. Some were sentimental items, so I put them aside to deal with them last. Once I actually took the time to go through the papers and organize them, and my desk was free from clutter, I also felt free.

My office looks like a new room. I took the bin of too-small children’s clothes that I keep in there to Goodwill. I took out two bags of trash. I decided I cannot get rid of Greta’s file yet and that is okay. (Greta was my first love, my dog that I got at 7 weeks when I was 21 years old, and she passed away three weeks before my son was born in 2017 at the ripe old age of 15.) It was therapeutic to discard, and to keep. I now don’t feel anxiety overwhelm me when I walk in the room.

So, I have a ways to go. I’ve been working on our kitchen, trying to simplify and organize drawers as I go. It’s rare that I have a big chunk of time to work on these things, which is what I would really like to find. (So if anyone wants my kids for a day, holla!) But until then, I’ll still do what I can along the way, trying to find ways to reduce the clutter, organize the good stuff, and feeling good about my accomplishments.

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