“Tidying Up” reveals changing view of homemaking


Photo credit: Andrea Nebhut

When I told my boyfriend that I was Netflix-binging a show about cleaning and organizing, he thought I was crazy. It might seem odd, yes, that one could be entertained by watching people throw away the old junk they no longer need and begin folding their clothes vertically (a method which has definitely changed my life), but I’m not alone.

Marie Kondo’s “Tidying Up” has taken the Internet by storm and has gained countless fans across the country. Buzzfeed has taken to compiling memes about the show, Goodwill has seen an uptick in donations, and nearly all of my female friends are either fans of the show or I am slowly trying to convert them.

In my view, the popularity of Kondo’s unique tidying method is so much more significant than just a New Year’s resolution fad. It is a stark contrast to the longtime shunning of being a homemaker in Western societies, which is largely not discussed in the media. Since work such as raising a family and keeping a clean and orderly home are not counted in the national income of a nation, they are not seen as output in the way that sitting at a desk and competing in the economic marketplace is.

Some of this change has been very positive. I am beyond grateful that I’m a woman in an age where I can attend a prestigious university such as Trinity and go on to work in whatever field I choose. However, this freedom also brings with it an inherent distaste for those who may choose a different path.

Male or female, Americans don’t see homemaking as an art as we once did. We see it as a series of chores and a waste of intellect, as we believe both women and men are better off working long hours and spending their small amounts of free time with their spouses and children when, in actuality, time with the family used to be seen as the primary responsibility.

What I’m not saying here is that women are always better off being housewives than they are CEOs, because that could not be further from my belief. I don’t think staying at home to be a homemaker is for everyone, nor should it be (a lot of families today can’t even afford to live on a single income, even if they wanted to.) But it is a valid vocation for many, and I see Kondo’s rise to fame as an indicator that we may be warming to this idea once again.

Now, let me get this out of the way: I know that Marie Kondo works (hello, book and TV show royalties!), and I understand that she isn’t a stay-at-home mother. Nevertheless, a movement founded upon the desire to have a clean and orderly home is an indubitable change from the mindset that cleaning up is just a chore one has to do. The way Kondo views the home and all of the objects in it carries a great amount of respect, as she understands that the state of a home often changes the emotional state of the family living within.

This respect and love for improving the dwelling place of one’s family is nothing short of recognizing the art of homemaking. Kondo understands that people need a place to live that “sparks joy” for them, not just a place that haphazardly holds all of their belongings. She teaches the families in her show how to make these changes whether they are full-time homemakers or not, as she knows that everyone has a different lifestyle but still needs a comforting place to live.

We may be a long way from giving stay-at-home moms and dads the same respect we give a working parent, but I see “Tidying Up” as a positive change in that direction and a push towards more Americans seeing the value in taking care of the place which is most dear to them: the home.