Sparking Joy In The Messy


My hubby and I were married for 9 years before we were blessed with our daughter (followed by our son, 3 years later). And while we longed to grow our family much earlier than 9 years in, it had some perks that we look back on now and laugh. Things like sleeping in till 9 on Saturdays, going out for sushi on a whim, and having. a. clean. house. I scheduled it. Dusting was on Tuesdays. Bathrooms were on Thursdays. You get the idea.

Fast forward 8 years later and our home is a tornado of Legos, markers, laundry, and dog hair. And it’s amazing. In the words of Marie Kondo, it “sparks joy.”

Wait, What?

Didn’t Marie Kondo say that a tidy house sparks joy? Well, she did… and then she didn’t. And word is spreading like wildfire. Great articles by CNN, Variety, and others talk about her shift in finding joy, and now parents are grabbing hold of this new standard.

In her new book, “Marie Kondo’s Kurashi at Home: How to Organize Your Space and Achieve Your Ideal Life,” Kondo talks about struggling with guilt and perfectionism after the birth of her first child, giving up that standard after having her second child, and having a “messy” home after her third child.

“I have kind of given up on that in a good way for me,” she writes, “Now I realize what is important to me is enjoying spending time with my children at home.” She explains that Kurashi is a person’s “way of life” and that true tidying is ordering your life around what brings you joy.

A woman looks downward with a stressed/upset expression.

Freedom From Standards

What seems to really be grabbing the attention of parents is the freedom they feel at Kondo’s remarks. She has been a social standard setter and inspired people all over the world. Now she is sharing that, upon entering parenthood, even she can no longer keep that standard — that it’s not even healthy or joyful to hold that standard as a parent — and it has been incredibly validating for moms (and dads) to hear!

New Expectations 

That’s not to say that Kondo was wrong in her professional tidying mission pre-kids. However, it is saying loud and clear that life is about seasons, and standards must shift with them. Yes, tidying used to spark joy for me eight years ago, but now that level of tidying would make me a grumpy, yelling, frustrated mom. That doesn’t spark joy for anyone. I have needed to adapt to our new reality

Keep The Encouragement Coming 

What about you? Where are you in the journey? Are you crushed by standards beautifully posted everywhere you look? Are you at peace with sticky counters and crumbs because it means your kids are nourished and growing in independence (not perfection)? Maybe somewhere in between? Me, too. And it’s beautiful stories like Marie Kondo’s that encourages me to keep finding what sparks joy in the messy.

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Cheryl Quimba
Cheryl is a nearly 20 year Oregonian who grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia. She learned to turn down the sarcasm dial, hike in the rain, and keep an IV drip of coffee at all times, making the PNW deeply home. She obtained her Bachelor's degree in Pastoral Counseling and, in her pre-kid years, worked in substance abuse prevention, special needs tutoring, and as administrative support for the psychiatric care of at risk children. She and her husband, BJ, are two-time adoptive parents to Nora (8) and Evan (5). Together, they love discovering nature, mountains of library books, and endless hours of legos, art, and YouTube. A potent cocktail of pandemic school closure and a growing understanding of neurodivergent needs led Cheryl to educate their kids at home. She spends much of her time geeking out over resources for Child-Led Learning (Unschool, Self-Directed, Natural Learning -whatever your flavor!). Through NEST she has obtained certification in supporting individuals with the Pathological Demand Avoidance profile of the Autism Spectrum. She enjoys encouraging families in their journey as they seek to understand and love their children well. You can find her at, where she educates and supports in areas of OCD, PDA, Unschooling, and Open Adoption.


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