I have been meaning to do it for years but I admit I'm probably never going to read Marie Kondo's international bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Meaning to get around to something but feeling overwhelmed by it is kind of the theme of her new Netflix show, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, which was much easier for me to dive into.
I watched the first 45-minute episode of the series last night and while I'm not sure I'd call it life-changing, I'd definitely call Tidying Up With Marie Kondo relatable and inspiring.
The first episode in Kondo's new series is titled "Tidying with Toddlers" and it focuses on a Rachel and Kevin, a couple who have two beautiful toddlers and problem with clutter and chaos.
The first thing Kondo says in the episode (through subtitles) is something many of us parents know to be true: "When you have young children maintaining a tidy household is a struggle."
When Rachel and Kevin and their kiddos open the door to Kondo and her interpreter their house looks pretty great. But over the course of the next few scenes Kevin and Rachel show the viewers and Kondo around, pulling back the curtain on how disorganization is impacting their lives.
Honestly, I relate to the mom in this episode so much. Rachel explains that Kevin is definitely cleaner than she is, and that laundry is a huge issue in their home and their marriage (same Rachel, same). It's gotten to the point that Rachel is paying someone to help her with the laundry (a solution that clearly isn't working) and Kevin is frustrated because he doesn't think it's a necessary expense.
I actually teared up when Rachel explained that it was after she had kids that the house became overwhelming because it's just so true. "I want things to be so simple so I don't have to be so stressed but I don't know how to fix it," she says at one point. "I want to appreciate what I have instead of like needing more things."
Totally with you here, Rachel.
When we're done with the tour, Kondo starts the process of tidying by thanking the house, which is something I think is beautiful (as Brené Brown would say, you can't feel joy without gratitude, right?) She gets everyone to close their eyes and thank the house, which really seems like they're setting an intention for the process.
According to Kondo the ultimate goal of tidying is to really cherish what you have so that you can achieve happiness for your family, and that is so what this couple (and most of us) want and need.
The episode is split into easily digestible lessons: Lesson 1 is clothing, Rachel and Kevin's biggest problem area.
Kondo directs the couple to do the Hoarders-style pile, where they pull out all the clothes and dump them in one place for sorting.
Some of Rachel's reactions to her massive amount of clothing are ones many of us have felt looking at our closets: Embarrassment and guilt. She can't believe she has so much clothing she doesn't use or love. Kondo teaches her to sort clothing and choose whether it sparks joy or not. When she lets go of something she thanks it.
They also tackle Kevin's clothes and the kids' clothes, which are a big problem according to Kevin. "When I go to get clothes for the kids, half the stuff I grab is either too small or too big," Kevin explains (again, super relatable! I have had this exact problem at my house and felt overwhelmed by it).
Kondo teaches the couple not only how to let go of clothes, but how to properly store the keepers. "Folding is not just making your clothes smaller, it is an important opportunity to talk to your clothes and thank them," Kondo explains while spreading her hands over a tank top.
At first, Rachel is confused about how she's going to be able to fold with the kids around, but Kondo tells her it's totally possible (I wouldn't know, I usually only do it when my son is sleeping). The kids will like tidying up, she says, adding that if they come crashing into the piles, you just need to tell them not to do that (I am not sure this will work with my preschooler, but I will try).
Next they tackle the garage, where Kevin explains "most of this is just random stuff" (he could just as easily be talking about my basement) and the kitchen (as someone who has a drawer full of Tupperware lids but no containers for them, I so relate).
Some of Kondo's tips in these areas seem almost too simple, like storing stuff in a way you can actually see so that you don't buy more of the same stuff. It's like so simple that I can't believe I needed a Netflix show to introduce me to the concept (but let's be real, I definitely did).
Over the course of the episode, Kevin and Rachel's stress level comes down a lot. As their house gets tidier they are able to spend time connecting with each other, instead of bickering about clutter or laundry. When those problems are gone, they are able to reconnect in their space (and save money by doing their own laundry) .
I really like how this show was not some quick process. I like that it took weeks for Rachel and Kevin to work through their tidying and that Netflix showed the slowness of the process. So often shows about homes (whether it's a reno show or a cleaning show) take the makeover approach: Pros come in and do everything and they do it quick.
In reality, things take time and effort, and this show shows that. Keeping a clean house when you have kids is hard and I have felt really overwhelmed by it. But I'm so glad that Kondo brought this show to Netflix, because while I'm still not committing to reading a book about cleaning, I am committing to cleaning our closets.