I grew up in a cluttered house. My mom did her best to keep it tidy, but it wasn’t easy with 3 kids and a husband who collected furniture (we once had four tables and desks in the family room, not counting the coffee table). I wasn’t the tidiest kid and my closet was where a tornado lived. But, as I got older, everything started to have a particular place to live. There was still a lot of stuff, but everything had a home.
I still carry that with me. Everything has its own place, and I’m not happy when it’s been moved. Just as my husband when he moves the salt shaker 6 inches. I like to keep things tidy, and it helps everyone know where everything is. So I try my best to keep our home tidy. I find a place for everything and put them back where they belong.
I’m constantly drawn to minimalism and am interested in learning more about Marie Kondo’s method. But…I live with three pack rats. My husband stores old journal articles in multiple boxes and has textbooks from two decades ago that he’s keeping for when our kids are older. My almost 5 year old screams whenever we mention getting rid of his baby toys. My almost 2 year old has a fond attachment to trash. Kondo’s method works best when everyone is on board. I don’t think having only a quarter on board is going to cut it.
Besides, I think I’ve already decluttered my own stuff. If I get rid of anymore, I won’t have anything left.
In theory, I love the KonMari method. It sounds like a lovely way to live in a home that brings one great happiness. It’s also a fantastic way to declutter and tidy up, and ensure everyone knows where everything is. It makes for a lovely home that, in theory, is much less maintenance than a home full of clutter that has nowhere to go.
But there are also things I’ve read about it that doesn’t make me want to convince my family it’s the best thing for us. First of all, having to sit with something and contemplate whether it sparks joy just sounds time consuming. I have two kids to play with, discipline, run after, and feed all day every day. I don’t have time to sit with everything and ask it if it brings me joy. Besides, joy is more of a transient feeling for me. There are some things that will never spark joy in me. But there are a great number of things that go in and out of being joyful to me. In the summer, my Christmas decorations spark no joy, but, once December hits, I’ll be joyfully decorating and singing “Deck the Halls.” I have books that don’t spark joy until I’m in the mood to re-read them. But my biggest problem lies in everything having a home. I already do this. Ahem, I try to do this. I do this, but I’m only a quarter of this household. What’s the point of everything having a home if I’m the only one who knows it’s address? It’s exhausting to get everything home by myself every day after it’s taken a few wrong turns and wandered into something else’s home and taken up residence.
In the end, the KonMari method is appealing, but will not work with my household. I live with three pack rats. Only recently have I been able to convince my husband to give up things he’s had from before we met a decade ago (things that he hasn’t used in at least that long). Not only do these three people keep everything (and they’ll say it sparks joy), but they clean by tossing. I can never find anything because they see a space and toss something, anything, into it. And no one ever listens to my cleaning instructions. It’s exhausting to constantly clean after they’ve cleaned up. Sure, I have my kids clean up when they’re done playing and they listen, but only one of them currently understands cleaning up. The other thinks it’s a game and will dump it back out.
What I really need is a 7 letter word. S-T-O-R-A-G-E. Boxes, baskets, tin cans. At this point, I don’t really care. I just need storage for all this stuff three-quarters of my family can’t stop collecting, can’t figure out how to clean up, and won’t toss out.