” I solemnly swear that I will get better at domestic stuff once we get married.”
Words I never thought I would utter. Words that are a true testament to just how much I love my husband, because until I met him I swore I would never want to strive for June Cleaver status. I still don’t (sorry husband), but I have learned that part of a healthy relationship is understanding and compromise. For us, it’s getting on the same page about how to share our space. You would think that after six years of cohabitation we would have worked this out, but no. It’s kind of like a domestic Cold War. He silently stews over the dishes in the sink, and I avoid nuclear disaster cooking.
The major thing that we struggle with is housework and meal planning. Neither of us have a knack for it and we both work full-time. I feel that both of those factors make it hard for couples in our situation to really lock it down in the domestic department. There is also the difference in triggers. Husband is the type to stress if there is too much clutter, where as I am a Youth Services Librarian. For those of you outside the library world, that is basically code for “hoard everything and thrive in controlled chaos”. See the difference? For two people who really need their home to be a place of sanctuary, we needed to get on the same page.
Enter The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. This title has been popping off for awhile now and people way more domestically inclined than I swear by it. Maybe it had the answers I needed? I mean if Kondo can whip tiny Japanese apartments into shape, surely her methods could tackle our condo. I gave it a try and here’s how it went:
Phase One: Throw out all the things.
She literally wants you to purge on an epic level. The book asks you to start with your clothes. You are asked to take every article of clothing you own and chucking it into a pile. Ideally you need to hold each thing and ask yourself if it brings you joy. Nothing else. If you say no, the item goes. I’m not going to lie to you. I didn’t ask each item if it brought me joy, but I did tackle it the same way I do when I weed a book collection: condition, appeal, relevancy. It worked for me and I ended up getting rid of a lot of stuff.
Then things got real. The very next thing she wants you to purge is your book collection. Um… no. Kondo shares that she only owns thirty volumes. THIRTY. That’s some Dark Ages ish right there. I cannot in good conscience weed my book collection down to so few. I have a huge graphic novel collection and a ton of books, but it is a manageable collection. They aren’t piled on the floor, because who does that?! it isn’t good for the books. I did go through them and donated anything I didn’t need to the library. I also don’t feel too bad about my book purchasing process to begin with, because I have largely switched to Ebooks to save space. Unless the book is graphic-heavy (like a craft / cook book or graphic novel) I tend to get the electronic version. I am notorious for not rereading things, so it makes sense for me to do this even though I miss the physical beauty of a book. However, people will have to pry my comics out of my cold dead hands before I stop buying those in print.
Once the trauma of weeding my books was over, I followed her method until I had pared down my worldly possessions to a more manageable amount.
Phase Two: Operate in Secret
One thing I found really interesting about Kondo’s method is that she doesn’t want you to do this in front of others. Her reasoning is that people around you will want to a) snag your stuff for themselves, or b) convince you to keep it, thus transferring your mess to someone else. Both of these things are totally true. Had I not followed her advice, my mother would have been over here in a hot minute, and I don’t even want to get into how bent my husband was when he found out a threw out an old piggy bank that had zero emotional or physical value.
Phase Three: Everything Has a Place
In a library, every book has a place all of it’s own. That’s how you find and use it efficiently. Kondo suggests that you do the same thing for your home. Granted she doesn’t equate it with a library, but I’m seeking common ground here, people. She really just hammers home that if everything has a place, and you simply put each thing back where it goes, your tidying up process is radically reduced. Husband and I have been trying really hard not to just throw our things in all directions upon entering our home, and it does seem to be working.
Phase Four: Be Mindful
One thing that I really connected with it was Kondo’s assertion that you should be mindful of what your possessions do for you. She really wants you to think about whether or not they bring a positive force to your life. In an age where one can feel bombarded with items that they need it is nice to hear someone question the true value of all the minutiae we amass over time. After I finished this book I have noticed that I give more thought to what I purchase. I’ve tried to view my things more as roommates rather than objects with an emphasis on how they affect my general wellbeing.
While I didn’t follow everything to the letter, I do feel that this book was a great motivator. It helped me to envision the living space I desire and shed 3 bags of clothes, 47 books, and about 150 other random items that I truly didn’t need. Things are tidier too, so that’s a win.