I Absolutely Refuse To Be Konned By KonMari

The wild popularity of the KonMari show could really kill my konfidence in my skimpy housekeeping skills.

I mean, if I had a dime—ok, even just a penny—for every time I have said, “Sorry for the mess” when someone entered my home, paying for college would be a slam dunk.

Maybe June Cleaver and bad, stereotypical sitcoms are to blame, but somehow a neat house became the standard by which mothers are judged. And now Marie Kondo is trying to convince me that my mess is messing with my mojo.

KonMari style of cleaning
Neatly folded clothes with accessories KonMari style (Africa Studio/ Shutterstock)

I love chaos

But here’s the thing, my kids are well-adjusted and well fed even though I’m not well-organized. I am not a person who has a place for everything. Or one who craves order and precision. I love chaos and can overlook a lot in the way of piles.  My house is clean, just not neat. Coats are rarely hung up. Shoes litter the floor and papers cover at least half of my kitchen island.

This is who I am. And at 50, I am unlikely to change no matter what Netflix says.

Back in the day, I had three kids in five years.  I stuck to the bare minimum of keeping everyone alive regardless of whether the house took a hit in the process. My apologies were profuse but I felt my situation gave me a hall pass with the general public; at least temporarily.

Now that the boys are teens, my house is no longer overrun with toys. Rather it is bursting at the seams with sports equipment, backpacks and water bottles. In retrospect, stashing Legos on the fly was a lot easier than size 13 basketball shoes. But that doesn’t mean I ever figured out how to do it.

Over the years I’ve bought bins, baskets, rolling carts and storage systems galore. Each one was the result of unbridled optimism and too many hours spent watching Trading Spaces and HGTV. Alas, I found my heart just wasn’t in it. There was just no curbing my penchant for piles. Even the beautiful Vera Bradley bin system overflowed with mail and, well, life.

So, I am left to wonder what the state of my house says about my state of mind.

I believe my piles keep me sharp. It takes laser focus and mental fortitude to unearth a field trip form in a sea of white papers which may or may not be past their due date. Where is the challenge in walking to a file folder, labeled and ready for perusing?  The truth is, when I stash things behind cabinets or in drawers it completely throws off my rhythm. I get downright jittery.

Although my poor organized husband would beg to differ, I am not a hoarder or in need of an intervention. What little organization we have is because he cannot think amid disarray even if I thrive on it. It is my little gift to our marriage and family harmony.

But, if we are being honest, Ms. Kondo, what sparks joy in me is an ever-shifting paradigm. What if the kindergarten art that seems trivial this week, is the trip down memory lane that makes me miss my college student a little less next month?  I held onto my boot cut jeans and guess what? They are back! I knew it!

The only constant in my world is that clutter reminds me of the people I love the most.

Stumbling over shoes and running across a yearbook order form randomly throughout my day, keeps my family top of mind. It is not all the things that make me happy, but the people attached to them.

Perhaps I am too keenly aware that my days of chaos are dwindling. When the bathroom won’t have more towels than a Marriott. When rooms won’t have suspicious, possible toxic odors and my husband and I will be left lo simply exist with less to trip over and navigate.

So, if you stop by my house, I won’t be apologizing for the mess anymore.  However, I will welcome you to drop your coat, throw your shoes on the pile and enjoy the disarray while we are able.


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About Maureen Stiles

Maureen Stiles is a Washington DC based freelance journalist, columnist and editor. With over a decade of published work in the parenting and humor sector, Maureen has reached audiences around the globe. In addition to published works, she has been quoted in the Washington Post and The New York Times on topics surrounding parenting and family life. Maureen is the author of The Driving Book for Teens and a contributor to the book Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults as well as regularly featured on Today's Parenting Community and Grown and Flown.

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