Skip to main content

Marie Kondo ‘Giving Up’ on Tidiness Is Giving Me Complicated Feelings

Marie Kondo smiles and holds three pastel-colored boxes against a wooden wall.

I’m writing this article, like I write most of my articles, holed up in the fortress that is my bedroom. After years of struggle, I’ve ceded the rest of my cramped 2-bedroom condo to my kids, and it’s now covered in LEGO bricks and Ritz cracker crumbs. The walls are scrawled with markers and covered in dingy footprints. (Yes, you read that right.) Any tchotchkes or doodads that used to bring me joy have long since been destroyed or coated in glitter slime. So, I pretty much live in my bedroom now, surrounding myself with the last tangible expressions of my personality like a jittery prepper hiding out in a bunker.

Marie Kondo’s method of keeping your house clean has long been a tiny beacon of hope for me. Sure, there’s no stopping the tidal waves of plastic junk that slosh into your home when you have kids (Birthday party favors! Dentist office prizes! Gifts from grandparents! Halloween candy alternatives!), but the KonMari method really did help cut down on some of the clutter.

If a gift’s function is just to be a gift, then you can get rid of it when it’s become just another object. If you haven’t opened your “favorite” book in 20 years, then the book will be happier if you give it to someone who will turn those pages again. Despite the weirdos who think she’s telling them to burn their baby pictures or whatever, Kondo has given us all some pretty sensible advice.

And even as I’ve slowly lost the clutter war to my kids, I’ve clung to the hope that somehow, someday, I would finally perfect her method.

But now, even Marie Kondo has given up.

The Washington Post reports that Kondo gave some remarks at a press event after giving birth to her third child. “Up until now, I was a professional tidier, so I did my best to keep my home tidy at all times,” Kondo said. “I have kind of given up on that in a good way for me. Now I realize what is important to me is enjoying spending time with my children at home.”

Let me be clear that if Kondo says she’s happy, then I believe her. If she says she’s okay with having relaxed her standards, I believe that, too, and I support her! I acknowledge that I’m an extreme neat freak, and not everyone has to live in a spotless home to be happy. And yeah, spending time with your kids is 100% worth the horror of finding peanut butter on your favorite throw pillow.

However, if parenthood has defeated Marie Kondo of all people, then that says something about all the aggressive cultural forces stopping parents from having peaceful, tidy homes. The biggest culprit is, of course, consumerism. You really can’t understand the emotional toll of the plastic junk storm until you’ve lived through it, sifting literal pounds of tiny broken toy pieces through your hands as you try to clear some space for the next birthday haul. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it chips away at your mental health.

Then there’s the nuclear family itself, combined with the current housing affordability crisis, which leaves countless parents trapped in overcrowded housing while relatives shrug from hundreds of miles away. A three-bedroom home for a family of four is now a pipe dream, but the plastic junk sure is affordable!

Still, Kondo has found another way to cultivate pockets of peace in the chaotic daily life of a parent: small rituals like lighting incense and scrapbooking. I love rituals, so I’ll take another cue from her and try out the methods from her new book, which is based on the Japanese concept of Kurashi. I’m a spinner and a weaver, so I’m always down for sparking joy by pulling out some yarn.

Assuming my kids don’t get to it first, that is.

(via The Washington Post, featured image: Netflix)

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and covers film, television, and books for The Mary Sue. When she's not making yarn on her spinning wheel, she consumes massive amounts of Marvel media, folk horror, science fiction, fantasy, and nature writing. You can check out more of her writing at, or find her on Twitter at @juliaglassman.