Making the KonMari Method™ Work for Busy Parents

Has the KonMari Method craze hit your home?

If you’ve watched anything on Netflix this year, you’ve seen the wildly popular show with Japanese organizational expert, Marie Kondo. A hybrid mish-mash of the sugary-sweet expert’s name, the KonMari Method has families across the country pouring over dusty books, little league trophies, out-of-style sweaters, and collectible knickknacks.

The show, Tidying Up, is based on Kondo’s 2014 book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. It takes Kondo from the pages of her best-selling guide right into the cluttered living rooms of nervous homeowners across America.

The mission? Get rid of clutter once and for all.

As simple as it may sound, Kondo’s no-nonsense principles have the potential to overwhelm even the most motivated of homeowners — most of whom are busy parents just trying to keep their heads above water.

If you love the idea of systematic decluttering, but need a little flexibility, here are three practical ways to make the KonMari Method work for you.

Just Start Somewhere

One of the six principles of the KonMari Method is: commit yourself to tidy up all at once.

All at once? The whole house? Um….hang on.

With closets you can barely shut, clothes peeking out of drawers, and more boxes of old high school memorabilia than you can count, the thought of decluttering your entire house all at once leaves you paralyzed doing nothing more than watching another episode of Tidying Up.

Instead of thinking you have to do the entire house, just start somewhere.

That junk drawer in your kitchen? Get up right now and clean it out — most of it is trash anyway. It’ll only take you about 10 minutes, and when it’s over, you’ll not only have one clean drawer, but also the mental motivation to tackle the next cluttered space.

String a few of these 10-minute tasks together, and in no time, you will have tackled an entire room.

Decide What to Keep and What to Donate

Now that you’re making progress, how do you decide what to keep and what to donate?

The KonMari Method has a simple question to solve that very problem: “Does the item I’m holding in my hands spark joy?”

Kondo explains:

“The best way to identify what does or doesn’t bring you joy is to compare. In the beginning, unless your feelings are very black-and-white, it’s hard to decide if something brings joy when you look at 
it by itself. When you compare it with a bunch of other things, however, your feelings become clear.”

Comparing like items is why Kondo also advocates for decluttering in categories — beginning with clothes, then books, papers, miscellaneous, and finally sentimental items.

While it makes sense in some cases to ask, “Does it spark joy?” there are tons of items in your home that surely don’t spark joy but are necessary for your season of child-rearing (think diapers, sippy cups, musical toys, Legos, army men, video games, etc).

When it comes to decluttering your child’s toys and clothes, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my child enjoying this item right now? If yes, it’s a keeper!
  • Does this item serve my family for the season we are in? Yes again? Another keeper.
  • Is there another child who would benefit from this item more than my child? If yes, donate.
  • Is this toy broken, dirty, or missing pieces? Does this clothing item have stains or holes? Is it faded? If yes, trash.

As your child grows and his or her interests change, revisit these questions to keep kid clutter at bay.

Bonus tip: As much as you may want to include your child in this process, it’ll be dreadfully difficult to move toys to the donate or trash pile with your child watching. Find a time when you can tackle those spaces alone.

Store Items Sensibly

Now that you’ve decluttered a few places in your home (all at once or in bite-sized pieces), you’ll need a way to organize those items you’ve decided to keep.

The KonMari Method encourages storing items in specific ways. For example, she teaches folding your clothes like origami and placing all those pants, shorts, and shirts standing upwards in drawers.

While those tips may work if you’ve drastically reduced your wardrobe, it’s a stretch to think that’ll work with children — especially if your child is old enough to fold and put away his or her laundry.

Instead, simplify your child’s clothing storage with these family-friendly tips:

  • Whittle down his or her wardrobe as much as possible. Less clothing = less to manage.
  • Don’t overstuff drawers. Crowded drawers make it difficult for your child to get dressed and put away laundry.
  • Consider installing a lower-level closet bar and hanging all tops on child-sized hangers leaving drawers for shorts, pants, and underclothes.
  • Seasonally, set aside a half-day to purge outgrown clothes. If something still fits but the season is changing, go ahead and donate it. Chances are it won’t fit next year when that season rolls around.
Make KonMari Work for You

Japanese organizational guru Marie Kondo and her no-nonsense methods are sweeping across the nation cleaning out the shadowy recesses of America’s closets and basements. She’s providing practical steps anyone can take for a cleaner and more organized home.

So whether you hold to her exact principles or tweak them a little to make them doable for you, a decluttered and orderly home has many benefits — including less stuff to tidy and more time to enjoy those you love.

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