Tidying up. It’s a concept I strongly favor—well, at least theoretically. I have to admit I haven’t gotten around to reading Marie Kondo’s book yet, though I do practice a couple of ideas gleaned from it in a second-hand way.
One of the reasons I haven’t read it yet, I suspect, is the title. Oh, don’t get me wrong—I think The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a terrific title. “Magic,” of course, implies that change might be as easy as waving your wand or wiggling your nose. Then there’s “tidying up,” which is such a non-threatening concept. It sounds so doable, so manageable, so much less overwhelming than the huge, where-do-I-start tasks implied by “cleaning up” or “clearing out.” I’m just afraid that the process actually described inside the book might not be so simple and might involve actual effort.
I like the idea of “tidying up” as a dainty, leisurely, lady-of-the-manor phrase. It implies merely a little adjusting or patting into place. Just straighten a couple of pillows over here, pick up a coffee cup (Limoges or Wedgewood, presumably) over there, pinch the dried blossoms off of the begonia, and all is order and serenity.
In reality, of course, “tidying up” is what you suddenly feel a need to do if you get a text from a friend: “On my way, 10 min?”, or you suddenly realize you invited people for dinner at 6:00 rather than 6:30, or you glance out the window and see your in-laws’ car in the driveway.
The ensuing process is something like this:
Cram dirty dishes into the dishwasher, regardless of whether the ones already in there are dirty or clean.
Snatch up the stack of mail on the kitchen counter or dining room table and dump it onto your dresser, where you hope you will remember to retrieve it in time to pay the bills.
Collect two coffee mugs, a wine glass, and two sticky paper plates from atop the teetering stack of magazines on the coffee table. Stuff them into the dishwasher; slam the door. Yank it open again; retrieve the paper plates and toss them into the trash.
Kick several dog toys, a couple of dirty socks, and a few stray crayons out of sight under the couch.
Scoop up random cars, trains, and dinosaurs and throw them into the toy box.
Brush the bits of popcorn on the couch either into your hand and then the trash, onto the floor, or down beside the cushions—depending on whether you have just heard a car door slam or the doorbell ring.
Close all bedroom doors.
Wipe hairs and soap scum out of the bathroom sink with a handful of toilet paper.
If you have time, change into a clean shirt and run a comb through your hair.
Finally, take a deep and calming breath, open the door, and greet your guests with a serene and welcoming smile.