Netflix’s Tidying Up with Marie Kondo: A spring cleaning method tried and tested

Like the Japanese do

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The start of the year is always filled with endless possiblities. It’s the best time to make changes; often enriching ones like adopting an active hobby, or spiking superfoods in our liquids. This year, I didn’t stray from the cliché — thanks to Netflix’s new series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. But considering that the only things Kondo and I have in common are our Asian descent and straight set of bangs, it was a big step to volunteer my weekend in hopes of decluttering my room.

Kondo’s method of decluttering is one brimming with positivity, gratitude and endless joy. Which made the decluttering mission promising, and even inspiring to begin with. In the series, the woman leaps through messes, laughs in the face of piling adversities (there’s got to be heaps of dust mites within) while making sure her clients remain hopeful regardless the situation they’re living in. Often, she injects a dose of spirituality as her small frame carefully searches for the one spot in the house, kneels as she silently thanks the home for being a home. The gratitude also extends to clothing that are unwanted — “Thank you for letting me wear you…”, she advises. While watching her, I questioned how much zen a sane woman could store in her body. Does she smile this brightly even when her kids scream and tug at her perfect hair? Is there a secret cluttered spot in her own home? Where does she go to get her teeth cleaned? God, I love Japanese people. 

I had plenty of questions. But her angelic light caught on the show was infectious; plus the brief was to make decluttering a heartwarming affair. So abiding by the KonMari standard, I discovered the good, but also the unfortunate reality that the series didn’t cover.

The giant pile isn’t as fun as it looks

Taking out every piece of clothing in your closet seemed pretty fun at first, even cathartic. But halfway through, I was emotionally and physically drained and couldn’t stick to thanking each piece of clothing I found burdensome or obliged to keep (at times). You can only do that if you’ve completely lost your marbles — sorry Kondo.

Keeping the clothes and items that spark joy is frankly, irrational behaviour.

The golden rule of Kondo’s method of “only keep the things that spark joy” is pretty flawed. There’s more to life than joy; there’s also practicality, credit card bills to pay, emotional baggages etc. For instance, I wouldn’t go so far to say my socks often send me into throes of pleasure but does that mean I don’t need them? Of course I do. The current pieces that spark joy in my room are a single Diptyque candle, a teal Miu Miu leather coat and my favourite hoodie. That doesn’t even amount to a single outfit.

There’s too much dust in this room

What I would have loved to see: Kondo and her dutiful translator giving out Japanese branded face masks. Because that’s really the reality when you’re decluttering. That followed by tumultuous sneezing fits.

Boxes aren’t always the best solution

Here’s the thing about boxes: they only prove to be perfect for hoarding more stuff in an organised manner. During my cleaning attempt, I discovered grimy old boxes stuffed with old momentos and documents. If only Kondo had other suggestions for storage cabinets that we should look out for.

The woes of sorting out memorabilia

It’s hard dealing with items of sentimental value. The show didn’t seem to explore the arduous hours of kneeling by your birthday cards and childhood trophies; deliberating if you should keep them for another year. It’s a horrifying process as you alternate between sorting out five years worth of your life and questioning how you ended with that much crap. It would have been great if Kondo gave out tips like: “Throw out anything that you don’t remember where it came from.” Because that’s what I did, and it worked for me.

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo is now available to stream on Netflix.