The Soul Feed


Mindful Marie Kondo: 3 tricks to meeting our own (not just Marie’s) high standards

By Jane Close IN Discover

Remember when you wanted what you have now?

As mums, the urge towards having an orderly and clean home can be overpowering. 

Perhaps cleanliness is fundamental to your way of operating and you will not settle for a messy home.

Or maybe you’re a mum who has, out of survival and low energy levels, learned to tolerate mess and be “laid back” about it.

Do you long for Marie Kondo-minimalist bliss in the home?

Maybe you feel you have never needed this uplift more. Evidence shows women experience higher cortisol levels with messy surroundings than men. Research also suggests it can be tiring for our brains to process too much uncategorised visual information.

But in reality, if we have toddlers or babies about, trying to keep our homes as clean and well-organised as we want and need them to be, can feel like an impossible mission. If we push too hard towards this ideal without pacing ourselves, it can lead to burn out.

So how can we take inspiration from Marie Kondo’s systematic approach and mindfully maintain or improve our environment?

After all, home is meant to be where we recharge our batteries – not feel overwhelmed or stressed out!


1. Ask for help (beg if you must) and carve out the time

Remember that irresistible nesting instinct that came over you when you were probably 32 weeks pregnant or so? You probably insisted to your nearest and dearest that certain things had to get done – including steam-cleaning those carpets in the baby room?

That instinct is still there – though it’s probably less urgent. Just because you’re not pregnant anymore doesn’t mean you no longer need to act on that instinct.

Does the idea of a couple of hours to yourself to put some unrushed, undistracted TLC into your home sound like a fantasy?

It’s time to get real with your loved ones and make this elusive tidy home – and all its positive flow-on effects – a reality.

They will benefit too.

But just as you seek calm through an orderly, soothing home, you must approach tidying in a calm way and try to enjoy the process.


     2. Be methodical. It’s all a work-in-progress

The KonMari method is all about bringing awareness and intention to curating your environment. (It’s not about rushing frantically to get the house clean as we often do when guests are about to arrive).

Just as we need to hold our pain and emotions mindfully with love, so it goes with mess!

If you’re decluttering, sorting or re-arranging, it helps to take time to be thankful. Feeling too much aversion or even shame for where we are at, whether in our personal lives, or in the home, is actually counterproductive.

Cleaning and sorting should be a process of connecting with where we’ve been lately, and right now.

Checking in.

This helps slow our thinking enough to get clear on what we want and need next – whether that’s a shoe shelf at the front door (Marie Kondo would approve!), some outdoor furniture in that lovely sunny spot, a dance class, some chilled-out tunes, a kiss or a friend date.

Maybe we are not ready for a major home overhaul and can consciously compromise. (Meanwhile, we can preserve our sanity by ensuring at least one space in the home meets our need for order. The Sanctuary can also be your virtual home!).

The process itself is what makes cleaning conscious, ensuring you get the best (and most self-directed) outcome for your effort in the long run.

This requires gaining insight into YOU and your world by observing fully what IS.

There is literally no end to how much more ideal we could make our home, let alone our world, so we must always appreciate where we’re at.

Just as there is wisdom in our struggles, there is gold in the present.

It provides a chance for awareness and insight, helping us source our intrinsic motivations for action or effort.


    3. Have fun and be thankful!

Gratitude is the key. It really is.

If you are not feeling grateful, do what you need to do to get closer to this energising state of mind.

Whether that is journaling, meditating, pampering or absolutely insisting on some completely kid-free “me time” to exercise, or simply delight in drinking a cup of tea or coffee.

When we feel overwhelmed, these little injections of joy, no matter how small, add up to increase our sense of drive. While playing music can help make tidying more enjoyable and get you into your flow, I recommend not listening to too many podcasts and new ideas while doing a ‘deep clean’.

By deep clean, I mean consciously re-ordering your surroundings for the better!

Yesterday, as I was KonMari-ing my wardrobe with relish, I switched off the tenuously related podcast I had on so I could fully focus on the task.

This allowed enough quiet for me to reflect on the times I had worn a particular top that no longer “sparked joy”.

It brought a sense of compassion for where I’ve been. It was almost as though I was looking at my younger self, before I became a mum, with the same tenderness I feel towards my own kids.

It was a sense of witnessing myself with love and knowing that I was loved and cared for, even if unaware of it at the time, in that moment too.

It was a feeling of letting go, even grieving, what no longer brings me alive.

Gratitude is uplifting – and you need energy to clean a kid-filled home! Especially if it looks anything like mine right now.

With a bit of luck and Leon Bridges’ soul-soothing tunes, I may make some progress while the kids are at the park with Dad! 


Bonus Tip: Sometimes just starting on a big job can seem too overwhelming – even paralysing. This state can lead to a feeling of anxiety and procrastination. Be merciful with yourself! Slowing the mind down through exercise or practices such as mindful breathing, meditation or prayer help us begin from a place of ease. That way, we do know where to begin. Go to what feeds your energy, not drains it. It can be a revealing process to see what room or space we want to clean first! If no inspiration comes, as so often it doesn’t when we’re drained, don’t panic! Just start with something small and achievable, like folding that towel. Momentum comes from baby steps.

Jane Close

Jane Close is a writer by nature. Forever seeking the deeper meaning and the truer tale. In her 20s, Jane’s passion for true stories and people from different backgrounds drew her into the world of journalism, where she churned out articles on topics from the arts to politics for Fairfax community papers in Melbourne.

A thirst for adventure then took Jane to Japan, where she spent four years chasing and telling the powerful story of Okinawa and Okinawan people (among other topics!). Now 33, and mother of two, Jane works as a copywriter, helping organisations and businesses tell their truest, most meaningful stories.

Jane has always had an insatiable interest in spirituality, which she has explored through reading, travelling, asking lots of questions, and going on a Vipassana meditation retreat while pregnant with her now 3 year old son. Since becoming a mother, Jane has learned (sometimes the hard way) just how important it is to practice self-care through mindfulness exercises such as yoga and meditation.