Even Marie Kondo Cannot Follow Her Cleaning Rules

    18 November, 2019

    From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle Report.

    Japan's Marie Kondo is known around the world as a cleaning expert and for helping people organize their homes. Her 2014 book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing has sold millions of copies.

    But not even Marie Kondo can follow all of her cleaning rules all of the time.

    The reason?

    Well, there are two really good ones.

    Her young daughters, Satsuki and Miko. The girls are now ages four and three.

    Marie Kondo wrote her famous book before she became a mother. At that time, she aimed for a perfectly organized home. That is what she told reporters for The Associated Press (AP) in November. She added that she now understands two important things about parenting: First, children often make a mess. And second, time and energy are limited.

    Kondo says her expectations for tidying up "definitely changed" after she had children." When things get very busy, Kondo has learned to ease her rules for order and organization.

    FILE - Marie Kondo, center, looks on as a cake is brought to celebrate her husband Takumi Kawahara's birthday in New York, Wednesday, July 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
    FILE - Marie Kondo, center, looks on as a cake is brought to celebrate her husband Takumi Kawahara's birthday in New York, Wednesday, July 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

    Parents could say ‘I told you so'

    Kondo's words may please some parents. Several years ago, she faced criticism for having no real idea how messy children can be, and how disorganized busy parents can become.

    Some parents rejected the main principle of Kondo's tidying method – a method she named "KonMari." That principle is cleaning up a large number of things all at once.

    Kondo says the KonMari method breaks all items in the home into five categories: clothes, books, papers, mementos, and miscellaneous, or everything else. Kondo suggested that when you organize your books, you should organize all of your books. If you organize your clothes, you should organize all of your clothes.

    Tidying up, she wrote in her book, should be a special event and not something you do every day or every week. Her KonMari method, she claimed, would keep clutter from returning.

    However, parents said they could not give so much time to one project while raising children. People without children also agreed with this criticism of Kondo's KonMari method.

    In 2017, a parent writing on Treehugger.com questioned whether she could follow Kondo's calm example at the end of the workday.

    Katherine Martinko called parenting "chaos." Martinko said she could not imagine putting her shoes, handbag, and coat carefully away when she came home and then sitting down for a relaxing cup of tea, as Kondo did.

    Martinko wrote that "it sounded like life on another planet." In other words – unrealistic.

    Konda changes her KonMari method for parents

    After Kondo's two daughters were born, she changed KonMari a little to better fit a child-filled life.

    She admits that tidying up one small area at a time might be a better approach for busy, tired parents. For example, instead of organizing all of the clothes, a parent might organize just the t-shirts.

    Kondo told the AP that changing your actions when life changes is natural. And being a parent, she added, is tiring. Kondo also offered some new suggestions for parents. She spoke to The Wall Street Journal in 2017 about them.

    One suggestion is to decide how much space to give your children's things. That way, Kondo said, parents can say "no" to toys and objects that do not fit into the planned area.

    Kondo's most important suggestion is one she repeated to AP reporters this month. That is, children should see their parents tidying up.

    Katherine Martinko, the parent on Treehugger.com, approves of this suggestion. "Act the way you expect your kids to act," she writes.

    And that's the Health & Lifestyle report. I'm Anna Matteo.

    Anna Matteo and Kelly Jean Kelly wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly and George Grow were the editors.


    Words in This Story

    tidying up phrasal verb to make (something) tidy : to make (something) clean and organized

    declutter v. to remove clutter from a room, an area, etc.

    clutter n. a crowded or confused mass or collection : things that clutter a place

    mess n. a disordered, untidy, offensive, or unpleasant state or condition

    chaos n. a state of utter confusion

    principle n. an idea that forms the basis of something

    category n. a group of people or things that are similar in some way

    memento n. something that is kept as a reminder of a person, place, or thing

    miscellaneous n. dealing with or interested in diverse subjects

    toy n. something for a child to play with