KonMari with Kids

Minimalism! I want it. 

We've been (slowly!) doing the KonMari Method for awhile now. Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up, is just that - life-changing. It's amazing. We LOVE it. It makes it easier to keep our home clean. Easier to come and go from our travels, which is pretty often. The KonMari Method is pretty specific about what to do, how to do it, the order, rationale, etc. And that's great for many people...but can be so hard for a family with young children. Purists of the strategy will tell you it has to be done "the way" or you might as well not even bother, however I think there is definitely a "third option", another perspective besides "all or nothing". So - KonMari with Kids -The Basics of the KonMari Method:

  • Rather than decluttering by "what you need" or "what you use" this method goes by the concept of "Sparking Joy". The author suggests that while you are going through items in your home that you physically pick them up and consider if they spark joy for you. Do they make you happy? Do you enjoy them? Love them? Then they stay.
  • Instead of considering what to get rid of, change your mindset to finding only the things you want to keep.
  • Sort, discard, and organize by category, not by room. The book recommends starting with clothing, taking everything (yes, absolutely everything) out of your closets, off the hangers, and putting in a big heap on your bed. Then piece by piece going through every item.
  • The book recommends a specific order for going through your home: clothing and accessories, books, miscellaneous (linens, CD's/DVD's, toiletries, makeup, jewelry, electrical items/cables, household equipment and supplies), kitchen, papers, specific hobbies, and sentimental items last.
  • While minimalists are often drawn to KonMari, it doesn't require minimalim at all. The concept is that you love everything that you have, not that you simply have fewer things. We however, would like to have fewer things.

Where we Strayed

  • The folding. Oh the folding. Marie Kondo is simply obsessed with folding, preferably vertical stacks and rows. It looks pretty, and you can see everything. That's great. It's just not going to happen with everything in our home with our situation. I don't care to fold and stack all my toddlers underwear. They work just great in a bin on the dresser.
  • The categories...while I totally get the concept of doing everything in an entire category, sometimes trying to get through this process with a toddler at home is just plain hard. Do the best you can. Going through books or clothing by room is still better than not doing it at all. Realistically, people with young children are often doing this during naps and at night. Go easy on yourself, and if the process takes a long time - that's OK.
  • The KonMari Method advocates taking all bottles and products in the bath/shower out after you are finished, and taking them back in with you next time. Sorry....nope! Isn't it enough that we're all taking showers with having a toddler?! She suggests something similar about cleaning out your purse or bag every time you come home, putting each thing away in it's place, and back in the bag next time you need to go out. It's a cute idea I suppose, but I'm usually just happy with remembering to take the things we need when we leave, and not losing anything before I come home!

So what's different? Clean and cleared off counters. Empty drawers. Some repurposing of rooms and spaces to fit with how we use them better. Less stress to keep things reasonably picked up. Easier to have guests over and to clean up. More e-books and electronically stored documents and less paper/misc. A regular supply of fresh flowers (on the cleared off counter), because they are beautiful and make me happy. And - even the toddler is getting into it. I hear her "organizing her things" and occasionally she comes to me with something she "wants to give away, because she doesn't need it anymore". Amazing!

Tip for doing KonMari with kids: Join a Buy Nothing Group. These are Facebook groups with a very specific geographic area, where people can give/gift things for free. It's a great way to get rid of things you no longer want. While many people have an overabundance of things, other families may be in need. And some people just prefer to go the eco-friendly route and use secondhand items when possible. I love being able to give things we don't need to someone that really wants them (and that picks them up!). Families are busy enough. Easy is good.

While we still have a little (a lot!) more refining to do, we are definitely feeling the benefits of this. The strategies for decluttering and organizing are definitely different than conventional advice. This journey will force you to take a close look at your habits and to think about WHY you do things the way you do. You may find you discover some new ways to do things at home that you never would have considered. It's pretty cool! I love the concept of creating a home environment where you LOVE everything. How cool is that?! It just takes a little mindful attention to the process to make it happen.