At first glance, Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up looks like just another how-to book on decluttering.
As expected, Kondo tackles everything from clothing, kitchenware, and storage spaces to books, papers and memorabilia—all the usual categories you expect to learn about in the genre.
But when you read carefully, you find between the lines interesting notes on the life of a modern-day, single Japanese woman.
More importantly for us, there’s some juicy insights on the dynamics that Kondo had noticed while guiding families in the process of decluttering and tidying up.
The book, in part, tells the story of our intimate relationship with our stuff.
Unintentionally (or so it seems), some really good mothering gems hide in the pages of the book, worthy of three short UpsideDown Parenting video episodes.
This week’s video is about decluttering, sorting out boxes, drawers, closets or shelves, with an intention that’s good for your past and your children’s future.
All the mothers I know pass clothes down from one child to the next one in line (or to her cousins), and it makes perfect economic sense.
But a different logic is in play when it comes to hand-me-downs of personal belongings and “collections” from parents to their children… and your stuff might not necessarily spark joy in them, neither does it necessarily spark joy in you today.
Our decisions regarding what to save and what to discard may affect our children as much as they affect us.
Just this week my handyman told me about one of his clients, for whom he recently built three big bookcases following his father’s passing. He didn’t have the heart to put the books next to the nearest dumpster—as my handyman suggested half-jokingly—however, he’s inviting (read: begging) friends and strangers to come and relieve him of the heavy liability…
(And if your children are so young that you can’t even imagine the future ;), it’s still worth watching for your own sake!)
Stay tuned for the second and third videos in the series. (The third one is still in the making, so if you have any question or comment on the topic of parenting and tidying, or if you’re familiar with the KonMarie method and have an insight to share, write me at noga at upsidedownparenting dot com.)
Following the first episode on the KonMarie series, I received this insightful, personal response from a UP subscriber:
“Noga, this video was so hip!!! My father has some 10,000 books (I don’t think I’m exaggerating with the number; last time we counted, fifteen years ago, he had 6000…) and he won’t get rid of even one (this actually is an exaggeration, but generally speaking it’s quite true). He always reminds my sister and I that one day, all of this will be ours… (and I love books, but come on…).
“On the other hand, my mother has been asking me for weeks now to choose one out of my three childhood porcelain dolls, so she can then throw out or give away the other two. Despite the fact that I haven’t touched them for twenty years, and I never think about them, I can’t bring myself to give her an answer… It’s convenient for me that the dolls are in my parents’ home; I also think, “this will be fun for Leah (my daughter) when she’s older”…
“So, you’ve given me lots of food for thought. Thank you!
“Regarding [what to do with] the personal journals, I am younger than you, and less experienced… Where I am right now, I feel that there’s something very powerful in keeping my journal (only 6-7 of them). It’s one of my most powerful id’s, from my childhood days until today. I’ve always given thought to what I’d like [the fate of my journals] to be after I’m no longer here. [And] I always come around to the same conclusion, that I’d like for them to be immediately thrown in the dumpster, and that nobody should read in them. That’s also what I’ve instructed my family to do. Only this way I feel free to really write with authenticity, and only like this I can make sure that no-one will be hurt by me. Now, I also learned that it will free the next generation from holding on to journals that weren’t meant for them…(-;”
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Links from the episode: