"What Sparks Joy Is the Time I Spend With My Children" — Marie Kondo on What Decluttering Means to Her Now

The professional organizer taught us the way of 'sparking joy' through the global hit Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. 5 years on, Marie tells Livingetc about her evolving relationship with organization

Marie Kondo is a professional organizer and consultant
(Image credit: KonMari Media Inc. Photo by: MK Sadler)

'Before I became a mother, I was very conscious of keeping my house perfectly tidy at all times, since it’s my job to teach other people to tidy up,' Marie Kondo tells us. After quite a few busy years, Marie has finally had some downtime with her family.

The tidying expert is best known for teaching you how to declutter your home and organize, and over the years, she has become quite the success story. Marie has authored eleven books and has passed down her learnings to clients from around the globe. In 2019, Marie also released her first ever television show on Netflix called, 'Tidying Up With Marie Kondo'.

Marie's journey through the world of tidying up is one that I have been quite intrigued by. At the age of 5, Marie would often find herself engrossed in her mothers lifestyle and home magazines. At 15, after stumbling upon a book called 'The Art Of Discarding' by Nagisa Tatsumi (which details the importance of letting things go), she learnt about the power of letting go and ‘throwing away’ things. However, realizing her own mistake in thinking only about 'throwing away', she came to a conclusion which is now rooted in The KonMari Method™. And that is, 'what's really important in tidying is choosing what to keep, not what to discard'. At 19, Marie then decided to spread her craft and knowledge with those around her and soon enough she launched her own tidying consultant business.

Now, Marie Kondo says parenthood has changed the way she sees tidying up. She tells us that after having her third child, she hasn't had much time for herself. 'I didn't have enough time even to sleep, and I couldn't keep my house tidy. That was when I thought again about what was important'. As a result, Marie says, she came to the conclusion 'that what’s really important in the KonMari Method™ is not to always live in a perfectly tidy house, but to choose things that spark joy'. And for Marie, what sparks joy right now 'is the time I spend with my children'.

The 39-year-old consultant says, even though she's been busy with parenthood, tidying is still an outlet which allows her to 'concentrate on what is really important' and on what 'sparks joy' for her.

'Enjoy a joy-sparking life surrounded only by things you love'

Marie Kondo opens up about all things tidying up and parenthood

(Image credit: KonMari Media Inc. Photo: MK Sadler)

Tidying up is by no means an easy task, especially if you have a busy schedule as a parent. Marie explains that the best way to tackle this is to make 'small but steady progress'.

Marie says if life gets too much and you have little to no time, due to parenting, she recommends parents 'divide your belongings into smaller categories' such as 'tops today, socks tomorrow' and then you can proceed with your tidying one step at a time.

'This way, as long as you are proceeding with your tidying, you will surely make progress and your daily life will gradually become easier and more comfortable,' she tells us.

She says it is important to keep items which 'sparks joy for you' and get rid of things that may not. 'When you finish tidying, all you have is the things that spark joy for you. It makes your home a more comfortable, more joy-sparking place that you love'. The tidying consultant emphasises that by doing this, it will allow you to 'use the time you used to spend looking for things or doing the daily tidying for what sparks joy for you'.

Does the KonMari method work for everyone?

A neat and tidy children's closet

(Image credit: KonMari Media Inc. Photo: Tess Comrie)

'I believe it works for everyone,' Marie says. The 6-step Japanese organizing technique has become quite popular amongst many people across the globe and Marie says it is due to the method using 'joy' as a 'criterion for judgement'.

'There is no objective standard that applies to everyone, but your own joy is a standard to choose the things that make you happy. That is why it can apply to everyone, regardless of age or gender,' she adds.

However, Marie says if you have lived your life focusing on what others think of you, 'you may have difficulty in perceiving joy at first'. But she says if you take the time to 'come face-to-face with your belongings and follow tips such as to start tidying from clothes that are easy to recognize your joy and to start with the things that spark obvious joy for you, you will surely discover your own joy'.

'Transform for the better through tidying'

An organized bookshelf

(Image credit: KonMarie Media inc.Photo: Tess Comrie)

The KonMari Method aims to transform lives for the better through tidying, which is what Marie says she loves most about her job. Marie tells us many of her clients have their own struggles when they begin their tidying journey, but 'the more they make progress, the more their lives become joy-sparking. Seeing that is my utmost happiness and my driving force'.

'And now, KonMari Consultants around the world are taking the role of helping clients tidy. By increasing the number of KonMari Consultants, we are aiming to increase the number of people who can finish tidying and lead more joy-sparking lives all around the world,' Marie adds.

She says her mission is to 'organize the world' in hopes of helping people achieve their goals of tidying and lead more ‘joy-sparking lives’.

What sparks joy for Marie Kondo?

Marie Kondo pictured organizing and folding towels

(Image credit: KonMari Media inc. Photo: MK Sadler)

It's a question I just had to ask Marie, as I was eager to understand what sparks joy for the woman who constantly spreads joy to those around her.

Marie tells us, 'spending time with my family. Feeling my kids’ growth in everyday life. Tea time, which is my favorite daily habit. Time to watch my killifish's front fins swaying'.

She says these small moments in her life, which are often taken for granted, are 'the most important things for me'.

If you are struggling to organize and declutter your space — Marie says you should try this...

Marie Kondo opens up about all things tidying and parenthood

(Image credit: KonMarie Media Inc. Photo: MK Sadler)

I, myself, just like many others, relate to Marie when she says 'some of you might have a negative image of tidying,' as it can often feel like an agonizing task.

In order to fight off this negative mindset, the tidying expert says we should try to approach tidying in a fun way. 'I want you to have fun and enjoy tidying up with a light heart,' she adds. 'Tidying is not only a way to have a clean and tidy house, but also a way to find the source of your joy and to let your life shine'.

To those who are grappling with organizing and decluttering, Marie says: 'I hope you will enjoy your tidying journey, with your ideal life after finishing tidying up in your mind'.

If you are also struggling to let go of something which no longer brings you joy, the expert says you should, 'think about the true role of the object'. This could be a decluttering clothes which no longer serve you, to which Marie says: 'Not all clothes come to you to be worn down completely. It has played an important role... What you need to do is to appreciate the role it played and let go of the object with gratitude'.

Marie Kondo has something to say

Marie Kondo pictured organizing her home

(Image credit: KonMari Media inc. Photo: MK Sadler)

As a final note, I asked Marie if there was one thing she could say to you, our Livingetc readers, what would it be?

'If you are interested in tidying up your home and life, you can definitely do it,' Marie says. 'The KonMari Method™ is a very simple method that can be applied to anyone. Imagine your ideal life and enjoy tidying up. I’m rooting for every one of you who wants to start tidying.

'I’m sure your life will spark more joy after tidying up,' she says.

Advice & Gardens Editor

Faiza is the Advice & Gardens Editor at Livingetc. She previously worked for The Independent as a News Feature Writer, where she wrote articles on lifestyle, entertainment, news and more. She also worked as an Audience Editor for the newspaper for over two years. Spending a few years in the newsroom, Faiza also previously worked for Sky News as an SEO reporter, where she produced stories based on trending topics. Lifestyle and Interior design is a space Faiza has been interested in for quite some time and as she continues to grow in the field, she will be diving into an interior design course to further her skills. Faiza has a background in SEO, social media and reporting. Her passion for writing goes beyond her work as she loves all things poetry and creative writing.