If you were on social media over the weekend, you likely saw this headline gleefully shared by parents: “Marie Kondo admits she’s ‘kind of given up’ on tidying up after having 3 kids.”
I am one of those parents.
I am a famously cluttered person whose home was once described as “the domestic expression of chaos theory, the idea that astounding disorder can exist within an ordered structure of patterns and laws.”
That same article went on to say, “Married for 10 years, the Mandels are comfortable with mess. People who’ve delivered a baby in a car know that life can emerge and thrive in circumstances that aren’t sterile. The couple have more important things to worry about than whether the baby’s nasal aspirator is on the front steps, and whether there’s room to fit a drinking glass on the coffee table.”
I didn’t even know the aspirator was on the front steps until that article was published. Since then, we’ve had yet another baby, and I’m sorry to say that our house is in the same sorry state of disarray and disorganization.
When my midwife came for the home birth last month, she asked for the birth certificate forms we had filled out several weeks earlier. I looked around the cluttered dressers in our bedroom until I found the stack of paperwork. I handed it to her, she leafed through the papers, and then laughed and said, “This is from the last baby (born in the summer of 2021). I guess you haven’t cleaned up in a year and a half, huh?”
No, we haven’t.
Thankfully, she had an extra copy and my husband filled out the forms again. Problem was, he wrote a different first name than what we had decided on. Our printer was out of ink, and the new cartridge was … somewhere.
Maybe it was with the paperwork that I had already filled out.
Having given birth to a 10-pound baby moments earlier, I just sighed. “Let’s just name him what you wrote down. It’s fine.”
So that’s what we did and how we chose his name. A fitting story for how a sixth child came to be named.
All that is to say, I’m one of those mothers that Marie Kondo built her career trying to convert. It will never happen. I can never defeat the mess that comes with having children. It’s not just their stuff (there is so much stuff). It’s not just because one of my children has hoarder tendencies. It’s also the lack of time to do anything resembling what I call “life admin.”
How can I fold and put away laundry when my 18-month old goes fishing in toilets as soon as our backs are turned? How can I scrub my kitchen floor if all I do in that room is slice apples and open granola bar wrappers? I barely have time to think, let alone declutter.
It’s gratifying beyond belief to know that the Queen of Minimalism herself, Marie Kondo, is in the same boat now that she’s had three children. We all are. The only difference is some parents are still lying, while others have given up even trying to pretend. The reason so many lie is because of influencers like Kondo. We were shamed for a decade into the notion that we could and should be able to free ourselves from the mess and the clutter that comes with multiple little people in a household.
But if you have small children, like Kondo (I’d also like to take this opportunity to note I have double the number she does), keeping a straightened home feels like an insurmountable obstacle. It’s like trying to brush your teeth before a dentist appointment while eating Oreos.
It’s great that Kondo has finally admitted as much, albeit too late for a lot of parents who have driven themselves crazy trying to declutter by asking toddlers if their never ending collection of broken toys still sparks joy, and if the toddlers could please put away the cars after they’re done playing with them, instead of throwing them into the toilet.
I’m considering printing out the Marie Kondo headline, laminating it and taping it to my front door. Then, when people come over, they’ll be reminded that if Marie Kondo, who built a global empire on simplicity and order, can’t be expected to keep up, neither should I.
Bethany Mandel, a contributing writer for Deseret, is a home-schooling, stay-at-home mother of six. She is the co-author of the forthcoming book “Stolen Youth,” coming March 7 from Daily Wire Books, and an editor for the children’s book series “Heroes of Liberty.”