Like many Americans, instead of wasting my time trying and failing to find something to watch on TV via the Spectrum cable guide, I spend a fair amount of time browsing streaming services and related apps because I find them easier to navigate, far more worth my while, and just in general more in sync with my (ever-changing) schedule.
One reason I started regularly watching YouTube a long time ago (well before Roku existed) was to learn how to fix things around the house myself. Not huge projects, but just things like changing out a shower faucet knob, fixing a leaky kitchen sink faucet, replacing the heating element in the oven, that sort of thing. Because I watched how-to videos like that, sometimes cleaning and decluttering videos would pop up on my feed.
I made the mistake one time of clicking on a random cleaning video. It turned out to be one of those “oddly satisfying” things that millions tune in to YouTube every day to see, whether it’s to check out someone pressure washing a driveway, mowing an overgrown lawn, repurposing a piece of furniture, and other things like that.
So I started subscribing to a few channels to watch cleaning and decluttering videos, at first enjoying learning new tips and tricks on how to finally get my home clean and clutter-free. But for various reasons, my home actually never became super-clean nor clutter-free, partly because I had a lot going on and partly because I – like many others – just wasn’t willing to commit to keeping up with the daily/weekly things one needed to do to keep their house looking showroom-perfect.
It was fairly common in those videos (and still is) for the YouTubers to approvingly reference Marie Kondo, who has been called the “decluttering queen,” most recently by the Washington Post. Kondo’s name has become synonymous with simplicity, organizing, and keeping a tidy home 24-7, to the point she got not one Netflix series out of it but two, both of which focused on her “KonMari method” – which translates into getting rid of things that don’t “spark joy.”
But after the birth of Kondo’s third child in 2021, she came to an important realization about the supposed “need” to keep a home tidy “at all times.” And as the WaPo recently reported, she’s admitted that it’s okay to have a messy home because sometimes priorities change:
Kondo says her life underwent a huge change after she had her third child, and external tidying has taken a back seat to the business of life. “My home is messy, but the way I am spending my time is the right way for me at this time at this stage of my life,” she said through an interpreter at a recent media webinar and virtual tea ceremony.
Kondo says that, for many, the perfectly organized space is not realistic. “Up until now, I was a professional tidier, so I did my best to keep my home tidy at all times,” she said at the event. “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.”
The reactions I saw on social media to the Washington Post piece were mixed, with some half-jokingly feeling relief and vindication that Kondo was more or less giving up the “tidy” life for one that was more relatable to most people, especially those with children. Others, strangely, felt like Kondo should apologize for allegedly putting pressure on people to conform to her way of keeping a mess-free home.
Though I was never attempted to partake in the “KonMari method” and though I’m not a Kondo expert, it seems silly to me for anyone to blame her for the pressure they supposedly felt to have their home look like something you’d see in a Southern Living magazine. We, women in particular, put those pressures on ourselves and we need to be willing to recognize when certain things (or methods, in this case) are not working for us. And then make modifications accordingly.
Which is exactly what I did a while back. I had to stop watching those cleaning videos as often as I was, because I was starting to feel like something was wrong with me because I simply couldn’t keep up with getting my home to look like the ones I was seeing week after week on YouTube. Watching the cleaning and decluttering – sometimes of homes that already looked perfectly cleaned and decluttered – was getting exhausting.
It wasn’t the YouTubers’ fault that I felt that way – it was mine. I wasn’t forced to watch the videos they were cranking out. What I was doing wrong was trying to judge the way my home looked based on someone else’s standards. But at some point, I looked around my house and said, you know, I do pretty good around here though there was plenty of dust and dirt to be found here and there, my mail tray was overflowing with things to catch up on, and there were things in the fridge that needed to be tossed out.
It’s ok to have people – role models if you want to call them that – to look up to, and to learn from. But it’s always a good thing to keep things in perspective, for your sanity if nothing else. No two people are going to be just alike, and no one should try to mirror their lives 100% or even 50% around someone else’s.
People have to figure out in life what works best for them and their families, and in every instance that involves accepting that not everything in your life will be perfect – and understanding that most things in life aren’t perfect.
And you know what? That’s okay.
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