I’ve posted a blog post about Konmari before. I would recommend to read the book (‘the life changing magic of tidying up’) before you get started.
You can listen to the audio version if you don’t have any time to read.
When it comes to the Konmari method I often read that it’s impossible to finish your tidying marathon when you have (younger) children around.
Yes, they might throw over basket of clothing you’ve just folded or go through items you’ve just sorted in to piles…. but they will also learn by example and love to join.
The first weeks Alice still emptied out her drawers a couple of times, until she learned she could recognize her clothing pieces without unfolding.
With less toys and designated homes for them, its way easier to organize and clean the room.
I love how my girls greet our home and Celine can be really happy about a tidy space (for example: she will praise me for keeping the hallway organized).
It’s important to understand that the tidying process might take months (or even a year) and it can be hard to feel/see the progress when you’re in the middle of it. I love to visualize my dream home and it might help to take ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures, as a reminder of your progress when you feel stuck.
Our experiences and my tips might not apply to your situation and maybe your children will still empty out drawers after weeks of folding the clothes…. I can’t guarantee success, but I’m hoping there will be some helpful ideas here.
1. Who owns this?
Marie Kondo tells us not to discard anything that doesn’t belong to yourself without the permission of the owner. With children this can be very hard.
The decision on this topic is one I will leave to you. You might feel like you’re the one who decides what is best for your child and maybe your kids aren’t really old enough to decide which items ‘spark joy’ for them.
I can only tell you that children will notice it when their belongings suddenly go missing, even when it’s something they haven’t played with in months.
I wouldn’t want to lie to them and I don’t want my children to feel like their stuff isn’t safe in their room. At the age of 3 I can already ask Alice to pick joy-sparking items out of a pile and we also talk about donating (or selling) toys/clothing to other kids.
2. Stick to the right order
Marie Kondo mentions the importance of her order of the categories in her book, the clothing category is the easiest to start with and your sense for joy needs the experience of the easier categories before you get to the sentimental items and can truly recognize joy. ( order: 1. clothes, 2. books, 3. papers, 4. komono (misc), 5. mementos (sentimental items) )
With children I would recommend the same and in my opinion toys would be in the last category for my children. (especially stuffed animals and dolls can be very sentimental!)
You can start with clothing. Doing them all at the same time might be a bit overwhelming, try to split the clothes in categories of their own (shirts, pants, dresses, socks, underwear).
Put them on a pile on the floor and ask your child to pick up the clothes piece by piece. You can easily recognize joy in their reaction.
Celine definitely seems to prefer a different style than I use(d) to pick for her.
I really felt sorry for Alice when I saw the choices Alice made. She has a lot of hand-me-downs from Celine but they just don’t fit comfortably.
I had to get her some new pants/leggings, to make sure she didn’t need to worry about sagging pants anymore.
At the age of three year you can teach your child to fold ‘konmari-style’. We usually sit down as a family on the floor and fold the laundry. There’s something relaxing about it, even when children are around.
No, my kids don’t ”need” to fold their own clothing, they just love to join. They love getting real tasks and help out around the home. Teaching them how to fold their clothing properly and allowing them to do so has worked well for us. Celine is extremely proud when she folds something neatly and it stands up by itself.
Alice doesn’t fold as perfect yet, but as long as she enjoys it I let her participate too.
4. Toss or keep
The Konmari-method is not about choosing what to toss, but about choosing which to keep. This is not as hard as it sounds and I think for children it’s easier to choose favourites instead of asking them to pick their least-favourite things to discard/donate/sell.
5. Designate homes
This is the second step, after sorting through the piles. Everything needs a home. Discuss the perfect spot for specific toys or products with your child if you like.
I love to use baskets that can be dragged/carried by the kids. They can carry it to the spot where they want to play and easily put it back once they’re finished.
Think about putting things in their reach, low to the floor so they can put their toys back in place. You can also put some toys out of reach when you like to have more control about those toys.
(for example some of our art-supplies are out of reach as I don’t like the girls play with them without them asking me. They will need my supervision when they use paint or glitter)
6. Limit storage place
Using baskets as a storage for toys is also great because it limits the storage space for each toy category/sort. We have two huge baskets for stuffed animals. If the girls get new stuffed animals and want to keep them, they would need to discard something out of the basket to make room for the new ones.
7. Be honest
There might be situations where you have to admit you’ve made some choices in the past which you wouldn’t make today. Did you buy your children toys you end up hating? Clothes that don’t suit your current preferences? Your children will value honesty. They might not agree with you, but I do think it’s important to explain your reasons for not allowing certain toys like cheap-dollarshop-plastic-toy-crap for your child.
Environmental reasons can be just as important to your children as they are to you. They can also learn to appreciate quality of toys and the work that has gone in to the creation of handmade products.
In the end you’re the one who’s responsible and you get to decide what you would like for your child… There’s nothing wrong with telling other adults not to bring along more stuff if you just worked very hard to clear out your home. Use an (online) gift list so they can be sure to buy something you’d really wish for your child, or talk about options like a zoo or museum pass.
9. Schedule cleaning / organizing
Teach your children to tidy their room on set times. We tidy before nap time after lunch and before bedtime in the evening. If you ask your child to tidy up, try breaking the task in to parts. Instead of just saying ‘tidy your room’ you could say ‘could you put the blocks back in the basket?’ or ‘please put the books back in the bookcase’.
less toys = less tidying ; ) And if the children know where everything belongs, there’s no need to have things laying around ‘homeless’. Everything can be put back in to place without a problem.
I also like to walk through our home in the evening and put all the toys/clothing/kids stuff that l come across in a basket to bring in the children’s room where they can sort things out and put everything in its place again.