Marie Kondo’s Method Was Never Sustainable For Moms

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A few years ago when I first started mapping out the Freedom Moms Challenge and the Smart Kids Chore System, I noted that my methods were forged in the fiery furnace of real motherhood. At the time, Marie Kondo had just had her first baby (after writing her popular book), and as far as I could tell, the creator of the other wildly popular cleaning system (the FlyLady), had no children at all.

Since then, GoCleanCo has come on the scene, and while she is hilarious, as well as informative…

If a cleaning and housekeeping system is going to work for a mother…shouldn’t it be developed by…

A mother?!?

I was completely baffled five years ago as I watched a fellow large family mom (I believe she had 7 children at the time), buy into the Marie Kondo madness and spend her whole month “Kon-Marie”-ing her home.

She stopped the homeschooling, she stopped the extracurriculars…she basically put her whole family’s life on hold so that she could attain a level of zen home perfection in her home. I shook my head in disbelief, because I knew exactly what was going to happen.

And it did.

As soon as she resumed normal life, everything fell apart. It was predictable, but still devastating for this mother all the same.

Why was it so predictable? It was predictable for the same reasons why I knew that if Marie Kondo had any more than one child, she too would end up abandoning her own methods. 

  1. Doing a total home overhaul doesn’t correct the bad habits that created the need for the overhaul.
  2. Focusing on perfection will always backfire.
  3. Moms are short on time. If a mom ends up with a chunk of time (30 minutes or more), the very last thing in the world that she wants to spend that time doing is cleaning.

Let’s look at the details. 

Doing A Total Overall Doesn’t Correct Bad Habits

Now, Marie Kondo probably did not start out with bad habits, I imagine she was raised in a neat and orderly home and had parents who valued tidiness.

However, there are not a whole lot of us who can claim the same…especially not those of us who bought The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

Most of the people attracted to Marie Kondo’s book did so because they were desperate. They were sick and tired of the mess, the disorder, the clutter, and they wanted their lives to be changed by tidiness.

But here’s the thing. Getting rid of everything that doesn’t spark joy does NOT fix the initial  impulse to purchase or acquire items that don’t spark joy.

In other words…even if you do manage to completely purge your home of all of the joyless clutter, you have not dealt with your bad habits around purchasing or bringing home clutter.

You will most likely end up back in a cluttered home.

The same scenario will repeat itself over and over in every single area that Kondo advocates change.

Sure, you may roll all of your t-shirts into cute little rolls one weekend, heck, you may even do it for your husband and kids too.

But cute t-shirt rolls will not fix the problem that you have with consistently getting the laundry done. And when you get MASSIVELY behind on the laundry, are you going to take the time to roll everyone’s t-shirts?

Probably not.

Now you may be thinking…big deal. So I go back to the way things were before.

Well, the problem is…it will be a big deal. It will be a big, fat deal when you start feeling like a total failure. Feeling failure is so hard as a mom, and there are far too many of us who have tried and tried and tried to keep the house tidy, and then fail, and then feel huge amounts of guilt over it.

It’s paralyzing.

Focusing On Perfectionism Will Backfire

Another error in Marie Kondo’s system is her huge focus on perfectionism. According to The Washington Post, “Kondo called herself a “professional tidier” who previously strived for a perfectly organized home.”

Can a person have a perfectly organized home and maintain that state of perfection? Sure, if that person is living alone…meaning no spouse, no children, maybe even no pets. 

But as all us moms know…children change things, and in the very best ways. But one of the ways that they change things is by how little control we are able to maintain over the tidiness of our homes.

If a perfectly organized home is the be-all, end-all marker of success, then a mother will NEVER be able to attain success.

How defeating!

Instead of striving for perfection, the definition of success should be changed.

In my home, the definition of success is a reasonably tidy home. Meaning, the home is tidy enough that if someone were to drop by unannounced, it would look lived-in, but still like someone cared.

In my home, the house is for the people, NOT the people for the house.

In other words, I want this building to be a haven for my children and husband. A cozy, tidy, comfortable, beautiful place filled with love, laughter, and good food!

I do NOT want the children looking around and feeling frantic because Mom might start yelling if something is out of place. But on the other hand, I also don’t want my children looking around and feeling a bit frazzled because everywhere they look, there is one mess or another. 

Moms Don’t Want To Spend Their Precious Chunks Of Time Cleaning

Modern moms…We’re busy. So incredibly busy, but with more convenience at our fingertips than ever before. Everywhere we look there is something or someone vying for our attention.

Keeping a home clean really doesn’t take that much time in the grand scheme of things, and if we say we don’t have time for it, well…

A look at our daily screen time report on our phones may paint a different picture.

So, we DO have time for it…we just don’t have a large CHUNK of time for it.

If your life looks anything like mine, then you rarely have a 1-2 hour block of time that is just sitting there begging to be filled.

And if we DID have a 1-2 hour block of time…

Would we want to fill that block with cleaning and organizing our homes???

I know my answer, and it’s a resounding NO!

Not only do I not want to, but I REFUSE to spend a big chunk of time each week cleaning my home. And this is really where the rubber meets the road for so many moms.

We have little pockets of time throughout our day.

A minute here, three minutes there, if we’re really savvy, we may even have a few 10-15 minute chunks of time spread throughout the day.

The problem is, we look at our home like perfectionists instead of like the ultimate project managers that we really are.

Instead of using those little pockets of time to the best of our abilities and getting a clean home out of the bargain, we usually pull out our phones and scroll Instagram to look at someone else’s clean home.


Please don’t hate me…I’m talking to myself here too.

This is why something like the Freedom Moms Challenge is so important…it teaches the very busiest of mothers how to look at their homes differently…

Not with a Marie Kondo attitude of perfection (as in…if I don’t have the time to clean the whole room and make it PERFECT, then it’s not worth doing at all!), but instead with the attitude of the LIttle Engine That Could or the attitude of the Tortoise in the Tortoise And The Hare.

Oddly enough…this is also how you KEEP a home clean and tidy. Little tiny habits that happen all the time, every day, and the beautiful thing is…then you never end up with a giant mess on your hands.

If you are tired of your home only being clean for about one day a month (or less), if you’re tired of always feeling like a failure because you can’t keep your home tidy, or if you are mortified whenever someone drops by unexpectedly, I would LOVE to see you in The Freedom Moms Challenge!

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Ashley is committed to helping ALL Moms (working moms, stay at home moms, homeschooling moms, ADHD moms, and any other kind of Mom who wants a change!) realize and achieve a calm, peaceful, neat space that really feels like Home Sweet Home.