Sparks of Joy

Last night, while figuring out what to do, I saw a post from a friend on facebook to check out the Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. First, let me recommend this friend, Kendra Hicks who has a rad blog and is working on the most amazing project in Boston. Check out her website and The Estuary Projects here and here.

Now, I’d like to recommend this show. I watched the first episode that followed the Friend family. And, it was like looking at my life. They had two young kids, mom was at home most days, dad worked long hours, and everything was a mess, undone…mostly due to the exhaustion of parenting and living life in chaotic moments. The chaos in their home that had become overwhelming, distracting, disruptive, relationship altering is my very existence. I write at a desk that is behind a bar covered in literally in a million things and I can’t tell you why they are up there. But they have been, for months. I put “clean off bar” on my to do list most weeks and I have yet to complete it. The problem is that I don’t know where to put anything. And that’s a similar response from my partner. He tidies by stacking things. When I ask him to put them away, he asks, “where?” and I usually have no idea.

Her method is simple, keep what you love and/or want to bring into the future, and get rid of what no longer serves you. I do this a lot here or there, already so I feel like I have a good first step. But what’s also important about her method is that she makes you pile it all up. Like all of your clothes, every last piece, in one gigantic pile. I feel that this might be the key to my success. Right now, I do some of this. I purge stuff all the time. Toss things that don’t make sense. But when I find something I want to keep, surrounded by things I have no idea what to do with, I do not touch them. I become completely numb and avoidant. Yet, if I make a big pile in the center of my space, it will force me to deal with it. And it will show the overwhelming amount of things that I love versus what no longer makes sense in my home.

I don’t want to give away too much more, because if this inspires you, you should watch. Or read her book. But, here is what I took away as a parent…

My head did this the entire episode…

“My kid finds joy in everything, she will toss nothing…she keeps scraps of paper and rocks because she likes them…she never tidies anything, how will I get her to do it…her room is filled with so much stuff…the thought of organizing toys is overwhelming…where am I going to put all of their stuff…now I have to fold the laundry?…I can’t wait for my partner to see the sheer size of his pile of stuff…”

I am working through these thoughts, because here is the key point I am building into a mantra for myself…”she learns from me, she learns everything.” If I hate cleaning or yell about tidying, she’ll want nothing to do with it. Who would? But if it becomes routine and I involve her, maybe it will at least become neutral or even joyful to keep her space organized so she can find what she wants. All this time, I kept thinking, “if only she’d be more respectful of her things, of me, why do I do it all?” Well I hate all of these things because this space is such a mess. I do not live this value out loud. I do not model the lesson I am trying to teach, so no wonder her confusion and disconnect. She has learned to hate it too.

So…time to learn to love to tidy up the space so she can love it too.

What’s my motivation? Play, love, joy. Right now, I am writing this while my kid plays downstairs with my partner. I am writing this because I just did the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen instead of choosing to play. And for a moment, I was resentful. “Why does he get to be the fun one and I get to the one who does the work?” Simple answers…he doesn’t clean and make a big deal of it like I do. I choose the cleaning over the play. I choose the misery over the play.

Well Marie Kondo, I’m in. I choose tidying, I choose play, I choose sparks of joy. Here’s to tidying up over the next few weeks. I’ll share more on how it goes…wish me luck!

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