For those who are looking to get organized, acclaimed Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo is a great place to start. The third episode—aptly called “The Downsizers”—gave me some serious thoughts on the connection between organization and family dynamics.
I couldn’t picture a better family for this episode than the Mersiers, who moved to Los Angeles from Michigan 18 months prior. Understandably, relocating from a four-bedroom house to a two-bedroom apartment has created lots of clutter.
Before we dive into the central themes of the episode, I’d like to give you a sense of the family’s apartment. Though the living room is seamlessly multipurpose—the Mersiers eat in there, watch TV, and keep their extensive DVD collection stacked on the floor—it’s a bit on the messy side.
The kitchen, meanwhile, is so cluttered that spices are stored in the same cabinets as dishes and glasses.
And then the bedrooms: In the master bedroom, drawers are filled with clothing, but there’s no organization to speak of. In son and daughter Nolan and Kayci’s room, garments are stored on shelves so high the pair can hardly access them. They also share a closet that’s full to bursting.
Though I felt for the Mersiers—really, I can only imagine how challenging it must be to plan a cross-country move knowing you’ll have limited storage—I found myself eager to see what tidying expert Marie Kondo would suggest. Naturally, the family couldn’t keep living in all that clutter.
Throughout the episode, Marie helps the Mersiers come to terms with some compelling issues. Parents Douglas and Katrina moved to LA for all the opportunities the city has to offer, but their cramped living situation is causing strain.
Katrina feels responsible for their messy home because she has always taken charge of keeping things organized. However, since only she knows where many things are, the family depends on her—to a fault.
Nolan, for example, admits he’ll text his mother to find out where items are located. He likes that she knows where everything is, though he recognizes he should be more proactive himself. Douglas and Kayci grapple with the same struggle.
Katrina, meanwhile, feels stuck. How can she help her family take responsibility when they don’t know where to start?
Fortunately, this is where Marie comes in. She explains that in her own family, each person helps to keep things tidy. And, as a result of the KonMari Method, the Mersiers can create systems that will allow them to achieve the same thing.
Tips for Sentimental and Seasonal Items
As you probably know, Marie tells her clients to only keep the items that spark joy in their lives. While reviewing this episode, I’d like to focus on a couple of tips in particular.
The first, which really made an impact on me, is to respect the way each person in the family views sentimental items. This ensures everyone can play a role in organizing the home. It also encourages non-judgment.
For example, when Nolan decides to keep an engraved sippy cup he was gifted as an infant, his loved ones accept his decision without question. What a meaningful way to support one another!
A second tip that resonated with me involves accessibility. Since the Mersiers only have so much space to begin with, Marie suggests they make storage decisions based on how frequently they use different types of items.
In the kitchen, for instance, seasonal plates can be stored in harder-to-reach cupboards so that everyday items like glasses are easily accessible. This makes perfect sense, yet it’s something I’d never thought about before—at least not consciously. But families from all backgrounds can benefit from this strategy!
Ultimately, Marie gives the Mersiers some helpful tools to eliminate clutter, communicate more effectively, and make their house a home. The experience is nothing short of transformative for both the parents and their kids.