Don’t get me wrong, I love a good decluttering session! However, as a busy, working mom I much prefer to tackle clutter with strategies that are practical, quick and easy. Unfortunately, the KonMari method meets none of these criteria. Keep reading to learn why her techniques won’t work for everyone…including her!
First, let me say that I am a fan of Marie Kondo.
She is absolutely precious!
I am pretty sure that if we ever met that she and I would hit it off straight away.
I love her sweet demeanor, soft voice and the general positivity with which she seems to approach every situation (no matter how disgusted she might be inside).
However, I have read her book and I have attempted her methods and there are a few warnings that you need to be aware of if you are thinking about giving it a try.
STOP! Please go back to the top of this post and read all of that again!
You see, I have received a lot of backlash for what I am about to say in the rest of this post.
In fact, I have gotten emails, messages and comments about this post that state that I am culturally insensitive and that if the KonMari Method didn’t work for me – then there is something wrong with me!
This is simply not true!
In fact, I wrote this post after being contacted by others who had the same experience that I did: They attempted the KonMari method and experienced overwhelm and stalled progress.
I think it is important for to know that just because the KonMari Method doesn’t work for everyone – doesn’t mean that you won’t be successful with decluttering. You just need to find what works for you.
Marie Kondo admits what I knew all along
I have to admit that a little part of me felt vindicated when Marie Kondo spoke out about the challenges of her own method this week.
My long standing contention with the KonMari method is that it is challenging for busy families, especially those with young children. And even more so when both parents work outside the home.
Now, Marie Kondo is sharing she has found this to be true herself:
“To be honest, my situation has changed since I was single,” she said through a translator. “I’ve let go of needing to maintain a perfect home all the time.”Marie Kondo
This statement comes on the heels of the accusation that Marie Kondo stole her famous “folding method” from Linda Koopersmith who debuted the method on the show Clean House in 2003.
All this being said, I know that the KonMari method can change lives. There are so many people who love her strategies and are devoted followers.
I just want you to know, that isn’t always the case. And that it’s OK! You can still declutter and simplify without following her rules.
You can read about my experience and suggestions below.
Why the KonMari Method Doesn’t Work for Everyone
In all honesty, if you watch Tidying Up on Netflix you will see exactly what I am talking about.
However, you have to get through a few episodes to see the pitfalls that the various participants begin to face.
After binge watching the entire season I was able to see the same challenges that I experienced, play out on television.
- The husband that leaves his clothes in the hallway for weeks
- The widow who does things out of order because she feels ready (this is a no-no in the book)
- The couple who probably wouldn’t have finished if they weren’t on TV
Ultimately, I strongly believe in the power or minimalism, decluttering and simple living.
In fact, these are the same tools that I used to find my health and happiness after a bought with post-partum anxiety. I am certainly not here to discount the benefits of purging our homes of items that are non-essential.
Instead, I caution you to reflect on your own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the process of letting go and realize that the KonMari method is not the cure-all that it is hyped up to be.
Especially if you are a mother with young children and you work outside the home (actually even if you are a stay-at-home mom with young kids I think you will find it challenging)
When you watch the show, you will see that one of the hallmarks of her process is to “take everything out”.
This makes for great tv.
The impact of a mountain of clothes stacked on top of a bed is downright shocking.
It’s the hoarders equivalent of hitting rock bottom.
And of course there is the pressure of having to sleep on the couch if you don’t get that crap put away!
But here’s the deal: If you aren’t good at keeping a tidy home in the first place, how in the heck are you going to feel after making a huge mess?
My guess is that you are going to feel completely overwhelmed (like I did) and want to close the door and walk away – never to enter again.
Did most of the people on the show finish their homework? Yes, most of them did.
But not all of them!
And that was with the pressure of being on television and having Marie Kondo standing in their home!
Just imagine how easy it is to give up and just shove everything back in when you are all alone in the privacy of your own home with no one watching!
Ultimately, this was the downfall of the method for me.
With young kids and a busy family we just don’t have the free-time to turn our entire house upside down one category at at time.
When we tried to do this our house was messy, the kids kept finding things they wanted to keep and I was so stressed out by the volume of what we were facing I felt like giving up right away.
When I get home in the evenings I want to spend that time re-connecting with my family, eating dinner and relaxing. Knowing that the KonMari Method takes an extravagant amount of time to implement this left the weekend as our only option. It was very dis-heartening when we worked the entire weekend and still didn’t have everything put back together when the work-week started up again. The drawn out process was a buzz-kill that deflated my motivation right away.
What to do instead:
In order to remove some of the overwhelm that many people have experienced with the KonMari Method, I suggest avoiding the “take it all out” method.
Many spaces, including your closet, can be decluttered by just removing the items you no longer need.
If you do feel like the strategy will work for you, I suggest you work in very small areas. For example, do one drawer, one cupboard, or one shelf at a time.
Working on small spaces will help to reduce some of the pressure and stress, and avoids making a humongous mess.
Related Post: Clutter Free Home; Minimalist Tips for Families
Tidiness Doesn’t Last Forever
In the book it is stated, “You’ll see instant results that will empower you to keep your space in order ever after.”
Here’s the deal – we live as a minimalist family and it has completely saved my sanity and changed the way we view the objects that we decide to bring in our house.
That being said, it still gets messy!
We have kids – and a dog. We work long days and have activities that we participate in outside of our home. Sometimes, even with having very few items in our home it all falls apart. It’s ok though because it only takes a bit of time to get everything back in order.
But you know what is ridiculous?
To say that everything will be in order forever. C’mon now!
What to do instead:
Change your mindset.
Go in to the decluttering and minimizing process with the understanding that it’s not a “one and done” situation.
Once you get through the major overhaul, you will still do maintenance decluttering periodically.
I have been a “practical minimalist mom” for just over three years now and I still declutter. Except, now it only takes a few minutes to tackle any area versus the hours that I invested initially.
Folding Won’t Spark Joy For Long
One of the jobs that put me through college was retail.
For years, I worked at a Tommy Hilfiger outlet and much of my time was spent folding and re-folding sweaters, t-shirts, ties and chinos in order to keep our store looking beautiful.
We even had special tables and boards that helped us fold every article of clothing perfectly.
And ya know what? It gets real old – real quick!
As a mom I barely have time to do my laundry each week, let alone sit on the floor and fold every single item!
Ain’t no busy mama got time for that!
After watching the show I even decided to give her precise method of folding a second try.
After all, I am a seasoned minimalist with a capsule wardrobe – it should be easy right?
Over the years I have established a time-saving laundry routine that only takes me a few minutes to get an entire load of clothes put away.
Not so, with the precise folding method suggested my Marie. Getting my clothes put away was taking forever. This was valuable time I usually spend doing something else – something more enjoyable like relaxing or playing with my kids.
Yes, I know that Marie wants our kids to get in on “the joy of folding” – but frankly that’s been a disaster so far. As soon as one item is folded another is knocked over.
Sure – would it be awesome to open my drawers and magically have everything inside be arranged beautifully?
But not for the time and OCD precision that it takes to make it happen.
Instead my solution is to hang the majority of my clothing and only fold items that don’t require ironing:
- Workout clothes
I do like to use boxes within my drawers to keep items organized. It works especially well for socks, undergarments and tank tops.
What to do instead:
When it comes to clothing, I recommend the following to save time and energy:
-Create capsule wardrobes for each family member.
-Reduce the number of towels (usually 2-3 per person is plenty)
-Hang everything you can
-Use drawer organizers to keep them nice and neat.
READ THIS NEXT: 3 Decluttering Questions to Ask After “Does this spark joy?”
KOMONO Is Not A Category
If you follow the KonMari method you will notice that she suggests decluttering by categories.
I actually love this concept and suggest it often to my own readers.
One of her categories is called “Komono”. It is a Japanese term that means small items.
For many people who struggle with keeping a neat and tidy home, I don’t feel that this catch-all category is really all that helpful.
Basically she is telling you that after you declutter your clothes, books and papers that your next step is to organize all the “other stuff”?
From my own personal experience and through helping others I can definitely say that decluttering all the random junk in your house is one of the most difficult tasks.
Grouping all those items into a category together and calling them a new name doesn’t make it any easier.
In reality, you probably need a very specific and detailed plan to tackle all the miscellaneous clutter in your home. One that goes into detail and walks you through how to tackle each specific area of your home.
In fact, you might even want to start with those items since many of them can be taken care of quickly and painlessly.
Related Post: 20 Items you can Declutter in 10 Minutes or Less!
The Pros and Cons of the KonMari Method
Even though the KonMari method isn’t the perfect solution for everyone – I am not one to bash anything that helps others.
Ultimately, any program that encourages you to be free from clutter gets a thumbs up from me.
I am sure there are thousands of people who have been inspired by the Netflix special and have started their own journey to live with less.
There are many benefits to her method and I think it can work for some people.
At the same time I don’t think many working mothers have the time, space or energy to commit to such a demanding process.
As a busy mom, I don’t have hours to devote to decluttering my home. I need practical, quick and easy solutions that can be done with two kids constantly interrupting.
Here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons I have discovered along the way:
Pros of the KonMari Method:
- A step-by-step process to follow
- Plenty of “before and after” images to keep you inspired
- Her suggestion to use boxes to keep drawers organized really does work (even without crazy folding)
- A focus on keeping items that bring joy to your life
- A pretty non-judgmental approach that doesn’t encourage you to get rid of much if you don’t want to
Cons of the KonMari Method:
- “Taking everything out” is very overwhelming and can reduce motivation
- Folding is time consuming and cumbersome
- Not practical for busy families who aren’t able to live in a disheveled house while working through each area
- Grouping “small items” into one category that should be broken down
- Without an emphasis on getting rid of as much clutter as possible you will be left with a ton of stuff to keep organized
A More Practical Approach to Declutter Your Home
If you are a busy mom with young kids who would like to experience the life-changing benefits of decluttering – I have a much better suggestion for you.
Start with quick and easy decluttering that allows you to see progress quickly and easily without added stress and overwhelm.
Related Post: Minimalism with Kids; 5 Practical Steps to Make It Easy
What do you think? Have you tried the KonMari Method? Please comment below!