What Tidying Up Taught Me
If you’re a blogger and you’ve not watched Tidying Up on Netflix and then proceeded to re-do your closet, drawers, utility room, order about 50 boxes from the Container Store, do a before and after shoot, and then post about it… can you please put your hand up?
Okay, I know it’s a blogger cliche to write about Tidying Up at the minute, but I am all for those blogger cliches, and so I’m going to put my two cents in, right here, right now!
I don’t have before and after pictures though, and here’s why:
I was super excited when I came across the trailer for Marie Kondo’s incredibly bingey show Tidying Up, which came to Netflix this month, with a timely January release. New year, new you, new pantry, we all know the drill!
I’ve read both of Marie Kondo’s books well before the series was a thing, watched most of the folding videos (there’s always another folding video), and really deep dived into the stuff that in some ways the show only has a little time to touch on, so it wasn’t like watching the new series was revelatory exactly- it was more of a reminder, a nice little kick up the butt, that there were things around my space that could do with a little rejig to give me the mental space and clarity all the guests on Tidying Up seemed to rejoice in by the end of the episode.
I am not someone who really needed to get into the whole decluttering thing this month.
If you came and saw my apartment on a random afternoon you would probably say things like: oh my gosh this looks like a show home, your house is so neat, it’s not going to look like this once you guys have kids!
And that’s not to praise myself or my home keeping skills or the way my husband and I designed the space- its simply what people say because I am so ridiculously particular about wiping up every spot of dust, straightening every single cushion (and there are a lot of cushions), and literally drowning the house in room spray (not good, not great for our health, I have so many habits I need to kick but that’s another story for another post!).
I am one of those annoying people whose always been a firm believer in a place for every thing and every thing in it’s place. That’s how I grew up, you could walk into my room as a teenager and find neatly stacked books on the nightstand day after day, a clutter free desk, and a neat display of lip balms and Bath and Body Works sickly sweet body sprays, lined up on my dressing table.
I was most definitely not normal!
But even me, the stressed out super neat me, learnt a few things from binge watching Tidying Up, snuggled under my duvet, sniffling my way out of the flu (it’s definitely a show to watch if you’re sick, not too crazy, not too challenging, totally fine if you nod off halfway).
A Better Space Really Does Lead to Better Relationships
One of the more controversial messages of Tidying Up, that kicks of right with the first episodes of the series, an episode that features a young couple with two young children who are starting to feel tension arise in their marriage because of their inability to keep on top of their (not super messy) home, is that tidying a home improves the relationships in it.
I have to say, even as a neat freak, I didn’t agree with this principle to begin with. It seemed a little too simple, a little too optimistic, and frankly, not everyone’s inclined to be neat- if you’re a messier person whose happier with a messier space, why should that impact your relationships at all?
But I am not Marie Kondo for a reason people.
She is totally right, as always.
Now I’ve not had a chance to test run this. I have one pretty neat apartment and one relationship to test it on.
What I do know though is that I am way less stressed when my place is in order. After majorly rejigging my pantry the other day, I have already felt a wave of calm come over me when it comes to figuring out what I need to cook each day. This is a source of stress for me. I am not a natural chef, nor have I had my own kitchen for all that long. Whilst I enjoy cooking after the fact, and whilst I want to improve at it, it stresses me out.
Laundry, another thing I’m pretty awful at, also stresses me out.
Tasks around the house stress me out. And I feel like that’s going to be true for a long while, until I have way more years of experience under my belt.
But here’s the vital difference: when I know where every thing is, when every thing is where it’s meant to be, when I know how many packs of gluten free chickpea pasta I’ve hauled over from Dubai, I still have to ration out till my next trip home (first world problems), it takes the edge of.
Cooking and ironing can still cause me some stress- but it’s like the noise has been dialed way back, and getting my house going the way I want, where I can have fresh, healthy cooked meals on the table, and fresh, pressed, and scented clothes in the closets… yeah I am in a better mood when my husband comes home. And isn’t that what makes all relationships tick?
Happy wife, happy life and all that.
It’s Not the Technique- It’s the Principle
Here’s one thing I have never been able to get on board with: the Marie Kondo folding magic.
I’m not a fan of the tiny little bundled up clothes, although I can totally see why they’re space savers and make locating your clothes that much easier.
But I just can’t get on board with it. I like traditional folding, I like seeing more of each item and having them in soft, neat, fluffy piles. That also means, I have less space in my drawers, but for now I’m not totally converted.
I will say though- even if you don’t follow the technique, there’s a lot to be gained from the principles behind every quirky little tidying hack.
Every thing in your closet should be visible. Gosh that has made such a difference. I don’t have a massive closet here, by no means am I an Instagram lady with a beautiful walk in closet and shoe racks to the ceiling. But I’ve decided to section my wardrobe into the stuff I actually wear, and the stuff I rarely wear.
The rarely wear has been relegated to baskets on the top shelf (neatly folded the traditional way).
And the every day has been hung, put away in drawers or baskets, in a manner where I can literally see pretty much every item without having to dig through or push aside anything else.
I cannot tell you how much better I feel being able not see all my PINK sweatshirts with ease.
Also note to self: I have way too many.
It’s Not Shameful To Not Be Perfect- There’s a Joy in the Messiness
One of the things that struck me the most, literally the most, about Tidying Up, is something that seems to have gone a bit under the radar. Between the folding and the sorting and the ritual of thanking your clothes, and saying hello to your house- a lot of people seem to have missed one of the moments that actually has stuck with me the most, from the entire season.
It was the moment where Marie declared, with a ton of you mind you, that she LOVES mess.
Marie Kondo, whose entire life and career centers around being inordinately tidy, LOVES mess?
I couldn’t quite wrap my head around it at first. But the more I let it sink in the more it struck a chord in me.
Yeah, I think I love mess too.
Not permanent mind. I do not want to live in mess. I am not okay with mess. But I do love one element of mess. The promise it holds. I love the fact that was is messy today may be beautiful tomorrow. I love that mess allows you to push yourself to clear it out. Mess holds so much promise. The more mess, the more promise. The greater the mess, the greater the transformation.
You were so right Marie, as always.
There’s No Such Thing as Boring
Now I don’t know if I am making a massive generalization here, and assuming something but… cleaning up has never exactly been seen as exciting has it?
I know it’s all the craze now, but who grew up thinking tidying their room was fun? Okay, I did but like I said not normal about this. Tidying up has always had a tedious reputation. It’s something your mom forced you to do. It’s something that was generally associated with a chore, with a burden, with something you would do anything- even live amongst the debris of your everyday life till it totally swallowed you up- in order to avoid.
There’s a lingering feeling that tidy people are boring people.
Let me just say- Marie is anything but boring. First of all she’s just so darn adorable. Secondly, she carries herself with a ton of grace and carries her work and ideas with so much quiet confidence that you can’t help but feel like tidying is just anything but boring, in fact… it’s actually really cool.
Nothing has intrinsic value or is intrinsically boring, or captivating, or interesting, or worth doing. Any thing, from tidying your closet to what you decide to dedicate your entire life to, is given worth through the way you do it, and the value and respect you assign to it.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect Now
When I decide to declutter a space in my home, I have to get up off the sofa and do it like, now.
However… each episode of Tidying Up unfolded… really… slowly. With each home Marie visits, there’s at least a month of decluttering going on. A month?! I was baffled. I don’t have the patience to live in a situation that’s stressing me out for that long, if there’s anything I can do about it. A month felt like a really long protracted time to me.
But then I don’t have a large rambling house or children messing up what I clear every hour, on the hour .
So I could see, with a bit of effort on my part, why the show needed to unfold so slowly. How unrealistic would it be if people who had accumulated their ‘mess’ over a long period of time, had someone come in and magically correct it, and the habits it fosters, in one big swoop?
Is there more peace and contentment in taking your time to really properly clear your space, to see it unfold slowly?
Will you value what you’ve done more if you go slowly?
I don’t know the answer to that. But I want to think it over.
So many lessons from such a simple premise. Bring on season two!