Marie Kondo is the author of the fabulously popular book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” While the overall subject matter of the book can be surmised as being about how to organize, this particular book combines a Zen-like approach to the whole matter of having a clear environment and a clear head. In the end, the book promises, you’ll be happier. An organizational process that promises happiness? What’s not to like?
Using the Marie Kondo Method With Kids
Parents know that kids are a common source of clutter. With every child comes an assortment of clothing and accessories, toys, books, and more toys. That’s not even to mention the amount of souvenirs from family trips that accumulate over the years. Items that qualify as souvenirs to be saved can include anything from a bird feather found on the ground near the hiking trail to badges, and pins that serve as proof that the children’s museum was visited on at least six occasions. If anyone could use the Marie Kondo minimalist organizational method, it’s kids.
“Tidying should always be a positive experience, and it has been my experience from my years as a consultant that even children as young as 3 have the ability to appreciate the experience and lessons that come from keeping their space tidy. And the best part is that for some kids, those lessons will last for their entire lives.” – Marie Kondo
The Trouble With Teachers
Along with the household assortment of “stuff” that kids have, come the things that teachers send home with kids. If you’re lucky, there’s a steady trickle of macaroni wreaths, hand turkey drawings and dioramas throughout the school year. At least a trickle is controllable to a certain extend. If you’ve got a particularly cheeky teacher, she’ll send home a giant stuffed bag with every single piece of paper that darling Johnny has ever touched during his academic year at preschool. And this is just the beginning. Every year, your child will be making posters, creating science experiments involving not-so-mini clay volcanoes, and building models and replicas that eventually need to be stuffed into your house. Or do they?
According to Marie Kondo, the first step toward getting organized with kids is to get rid of the kids. Not on a permanent basis; never that! Just send them to the neighbor’s house, or wait until they are off at school (where they will inevitably collect more “stuff,” but nevertheless…). The reasoning is simple. You’ll need to organize your own belongings first. This way you have a greater understanding of the method, and your house will survive, as Kando suggests tidying in categories vs room to room. Prepare to have a messy house for the duration of this process! Her book Spark Joy is the companion to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and is a simple step-by-step guide of the method.
Together, go through your kids’ closet and decide which items of apparel, shoes and accessories they want to keep, and which ones they are ready to pass on. Some things will be easy because kids’ clothes are often stained, but remember to allow them to make the final decision. Next, go through the baby clothes and anything else they’ve outgrown. Marie Kondo suggests saying “thank you” to each item you decide to get rid of. It may sound funny, but it’s an surprisingly beneficial in the letting-go process. A handful of clothes will be saved for a keepsake, but the rest could really come in handy for a young mother with few resources. Consider donating them to a halfway house or a maternity ward in a hospital in a low-income area where they can continue to “spark joy” for others.
Marie Kondo says books are next on the “hit list,” so start going through your child’s bookshelves. Do not – repeat – do NOT get rid of any books your child adores or reads over again. Unlike adults, kids often like to read the same book again and again. So don’t encourage them get rid of books on the basis of whether your child has read them. Allow them to decide if the book brings joy or if they are ready to allow it to give joy to someone else. Don’t forget to go through the vinyl bathtub books and get collect everything you think can go. Schools and libraries are good places to donate these books.
The toys. Oh, the toys. This is a tough one. So tough, that you would be really treading on thin ice if you tried to get rid of any toys yourself. The toys will have to be done by your child.
“Tidying is a skill that everyone, even a little child can achieve, and it takes practice for most people, young, old and in-between. But it is something that I advise my clients and readers to try with their children. The process may not be as complete as it can be with adults or older children, but you will experience some tidying benefits.” – Marie Kondo
This is the hardest one. Together, you’ll have to go through all the school papers and craft projects and decide what you’re going to keep and what you’re going to throw away. If your child is still young and especially if he’s only child, this task might be better delayed until they get older.
“If you see that a piece of artwork, or an exam or a paper, is something that produces pride for the child, you should not get rid of it. In fact, you should display it, as it gives joy to the whole family. But if you find that the artwork (etc.) is more important to you than it is to the child, perhaps it’s time to get rid of it.” -Marie Kondo
Ultimately, Marie Kondo’s method works for kids as well as adults. The process is a little different, but the result is the same. Happiness for all concerned by letting go, and gratitude for all the things that sparked joy. Now that’s an “Ah-Hah” moment.
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