For the next year, I’m focusing on mindfulness which, er, doesn’t come naturally to some of us. One of my main goals is to use the “Konmari” approach to tidying my whole entire household in 6 – 12 months! This is the approach explained by Marie Kondo in her book…
I like the simplicity of the Konmari approach and the frankness with which she addresses typical busy, lazy human nature and then offers a realistic solution! However, Kondo doesn’t talk much about kids in her book and obviously has never tried cohabiting with a threenager or boys with Lego. Nonetheless, I figured her approach, presented at kid level, ought to at least move us in the right direction, so I gave Konmari a try with my 5-year-old and her untidy room.
There are two important things to do before starting Konmari with kids.
1. Prepare them. Explain the process using the real words (“We are going to do Konmari tidying in your rooms.”) and simple concrete explanations (“We are going through all your crap and Mommy is going to throw out most of it.” I mean, “We are going to go through all your stuff, starting with clothes then books and toys and we will keep what you like and donate the rest.”) My kids are 5, 7 and 9 years old and able to grasp the concept of “does it spark joy” so I discussed that with them too. We set a date in advance to do the big tidy and talked a lot about Konmari as the date drew nearer.
2. Have clear goals/outcomes. My goals were to:
- discard about half of the stuff
- find a place for everything – from here on, after you use it, you put it away in its place
- teach the kids how to fold
- put all their stuff into their rooms rather than spread throughout the house
- figure out what they might need for back-to-school
A little incentive never hurts when you’re dealing with kids, so I made sure to have gum on hand and a reward when we finished. I also explained that this was a one-time deal; as Kondo says, the point is to do it once with dramatic results. The kids interpreted that to mean they would have less to clean up before company comes over in future… However you want to think about it, kids. Here is what we were dealing with:
I did my best to follow the Konmari approach and put everything from each category together then sorted through it with my daughter.
I’ll spare you the rest of the sordid “during” details and jump straight to my observations on the process. I was impressed with how my daughter stuck with it – we sorted for several hours, breaking only for lunch. As we discarded things, she naturally started playing with the keepers which made me realize that my kids likely default to “screen” play because the amount of their toys is overwhelming and they don’t know where to start. We have a lot of bins which Kondo does not recommend – too hard to see what you have – but I think toy bins of some kind are necessary for kids, just maybe not quite so packed and disorganized. I was also impressed with my daughter’s ability to quickly decide if something “sparked joy.” She has clear preferences and once she trusted that I wasn’t going to overrule her choices, she had no difficulty deciding what to keep and what to discard. AND she loved the folding and was quite capable! I see some laundry in your future, darling!
(set to “The Messiah” chorus)
Now, I did some things slightly different from Konmari. For example, I love the approach, but there’s no way I’m folding my kids’ underwear.
We ended up with 4 big bags for donation, another big bag to pass onto younger friends (who will donate if they can’t use, so it won’t become “their problem” as Kondo warns in the book), and a big bag of garbage. I would call that a Konmari Kids victory! I anticipate a few challenges going forward… firstly, will we actually continue to fold all her laundry in happy rectangles?! I hope so! Will she actually put her things away after use? I hope so! Will I actually stay motivated to do Konmari in my entire household and acreage? You bet! I might go a little
more crazy, but I will do it and hopefully teach my kids an invaluable lesson about minimalism, mindfulness and magic!