Getting the Kids’ Things Organized – KonMari Method with Kids

October 28, 2015

Home Organization

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This is her closet after being tidied KonMari style

This is her closet after being tidied KonMari style

1-01-01In my last post, I talked about the KonMari Method from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up from Marie Kondo.

It’s been about a week since I started using it and it has felt rather life changing for me.  My office and closet, drawers, are looking pristine and only filled with things that spark joy.

The neater my spaces got however, the messier my daughter’s room began to look.  I was itching to get rid of things in there too.

Previously when we wanted to de-clutter her room, my husband and I would wait until Aliza went to school and then start throwing things away that we thought she didn’t need anymore.

In the book, Kondo says that you should never throw away anyone else’s thing without them knowing about it.  Most of the time they’ll never notice, but when they do it erodes trust.  She says that you should instead begin with your own items (and if you’re noticing that others have stuff to get rid of, it’s almost certain that you’ve got your own items to de-clutter) and let the others in the house be inspired by your example.

That seems to have worked out in my case.  I showed my 7-year old daughter, Aliza, my closet and drawers and how I was tidying, and she said she wanted to do it too.  [My husband has also gotten the bug, and says that he will be starting with his things in the next day or too.  Yeah!]

Normally, I think Kondo would say that people should handle tidying their own spaces in private, but in my daughter’s case I  decided I would be there to guide her.  I did let her make the decisions on what sparked joy for her and what she’d keep or give away however.  Generally this worked out well, except for yesterday, which you will read about shortly.

So we began, as Kondo suggests, with her clothes.  We split it up into categories and started with tops, then went to bottoms. I had to explain to her what “does this spark joy?” mean and simplified it as “does this make you feel happy?”  She got it and had no trouble getting rid of clothing that was too small or she didn’t like.

At first, she was saying “get rid of this skirt.  It’s poopy and ugly.”  I told her, “You have to thank the items and show them kindness.”  She got really into thanking the items after that.  “Thank you for being such a wonderful skirt.  You are too small for me and it’s time for you to go to another little girl now.”

Dividing up her clothes in to the categories, and working on it for about 2 hours per day, we did the job over the course of 2 days.  I also taught her how to fold KonMari style, though she didn’t quite get it and I went behind her re-folding everything.  By the end, her closet was looking SO MUCH BETTER, and I can actually see what she has!  Even getting rid of tons of things, she still has ample amounts of everything – except a bathing suit.  Now, I can stop shopping for things she doesn’t need. AND mornings have been so much easier with her clothes so beautifully organized.

I should have taken a before picture (though it was mortifyingly messy and I’d be embarassed to post it).  I posted an “after” picture though.  You can just imagine that the before picture looked opposite to this (overflowing drawers in crazy states of disarray).

The next day we took care of her books.  I had been planning to buy a new bookshelf to handle all her books, but by the time we’d finished, she had room to spare on her current bookcase.  Yeah!  We’ve just saved time and money.

This is Aliza going through her books to determine which ones spark joy

This is Aliza going through her books to determine which ones spark joy

This is her bookcase after being tidied. Before it was overflowing with books, and now as you can see there is room to spare.

This is her bookcase after being tidied. Before it was overflowing with books, and now as you can see there is room to spare.

We took a couple days off of tidying and yesterday we started back into it with toys.

I made a huge mistake here and we both ended up very frustrated.  My mistake was not dividing her toys up into categories.  I just dumped a mass of toys onto her floor and after a little while, we both started getting overwhelmed and cranky.  What I should have done (and what we eventually started doing), is I should have divided her toys into categories – stuffed animals, Barbies and other dolls, puzzles & board games, musical instruments, little toys, etc.

Marie Kondo doesn’t discuss toys in her book.  She appears to be a single woman and I’m not sure how many of her clients have kids, but toys should be a whole chapter unto itself.

Anyway, at the end of the evening, Aliza asked if she could organize with daddy next time. 🙁 Unlike the previous times, toy tidying was not much fun.  I’ve agreed, but will stay in the background to help and divide up the remaining categories of items for faster and less stressful sorting.

Anyway, that’s the story with us using the KonMari method with a child.  If you’ve tried it with your kids, I’d love to know how it worked out for you and if you’ve got insights to share.

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