As a homeschooling mom and small business owner, I know what it’s like to be busy. You probably do too. Between kids’ events and activities, work, and keeping up with household responsibilities, moms have a lot of plates spinning. (I know, newsflash of the year.) I’m guessing I’m not alone in feeling like house cleaning is usually the first thing to suffer when something needs to go.
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the book (and show) The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Every mom I know has a copy on their shelf, and it is a great little book and one that was a game-changer for me personally.
Still, there’s no denying that this method seems impractical… even laughable… when you apply it to family life. Teaching my kids to fold their laundry so it stands up? Or to lovingly touch each toy and decide if they want to give it away? (I can guess that answer.) What if I can’t even find two matching socks let alone roll them?!
Luckily, you can still get a lot of value from the KonMari method even if some aspects of it don’t work for your family.
What Is the KonMari Method?
Marie Kondo, a professional organizer from Japan, teaches a very detailed method for organizing your home. Here are some of the basic tenents:
Purging Is More Important Than Organizing
The KonMari method is not about finding storage solutions. It focuses on tuning into what in your house brings you “joy,” and keeping only those items. This assumes that you will be letting go of many items that don’t give you joy and reduce inventory in your home. Marie Kondo also suggests specific ways to organize and honor the belongings that remain.
It’s a Mindset Thing
While this method is about decluttering, the main focus is in helping people acquire a mindset that keeps them from acquiring so much clutter to begin with. Kondo stresses that her clients only need to declutter once. This method also uses visualization to have the end goal in mind while you declutter.
Tidy by Category
Kondo also recommends tidying and decluttering by category instead of by location. So, instead of decluttering your closet, you get all of your clothes from all locations and work on them at one time.
The reasoning is to reduce confusion around decluttering items that are in many different locations.
Kondo also recommends a specific order in which you should declutter (clothes are first… I started with the kids’ wardrobes) and specific order within those categories (tops first).
Declutter All at Once
Kondo recommends decluttering a category of items in one go instead of in small steps. She says that doing it this way helps clients solidify their mindset against accumulating clutter again. She also recommends beginning with the easy things for a good jumpstart and mindset boost.
Does It Spark Joy?
This method focuses on the things you want to keep instead of the things you want to get rid of. You are supposed to hold everything in your hands and ask yourself if this item sparks joy. If not, you are expected to get rid of it. While holding your items you’re also supposed to talk to them and thank them for their service to you.
It’s an Individual Activity
Kondo says you should tidy without letting your family see you but you should also not get rid of anything belonging to someone else without their permission. Kondo believes that decluttering your own items will inspire your family to do their own decluttering.
The Konmari Method Is Strict
This is not a tidying method that gives you the wiggle room to make it your own. You’re expected to follow it to a T.
Kondo says that despite different reasons for acquiring clutter, the solution is the same. Kondo even teaches a specific way of folding clothing (pictured above).
How to Make The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Work for Families
Marie Kondo’s method of tidying and decluttering has changed many people’s lives, but it’s not always practical for families. Here are some tips I’ve personally found helpful and can work even in mom-life:
Ignore Its Strictness
As a general rule for this method to work for families, you’ll have to ignore its strictness. The truth is that when you have kids of varying ages you may have to make adjustments so that the method will work for you. Don’t worry about doing it perfectly. Give yourself permission to focus on the parts that do work for you and don’t worry about the parts that don’t.
You Don’t Have to Declutter in One Fell Swoop
With little ones around it’s hard enough to find any time to declutter, not to mention a long enough block of time where you pile every piece of clothing on the bed and ponder each item. Instead, focus on manageable amounts of a category. That might mean you have to work on the dresser one day and the closet the next. To keep with the spirit of what The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up teaches, keep a list of the items you are keeping from the dresser so you know what can be tossed from the closet.
You Don’t Have to Find Joy in Everything You Keep
There are many items moms have that don’t necessarily spark joy but also can’t be tossed. For example, diapers, wipes, breast pumps, kids’ clothes that don’t fit yet, pacifiers, toys that you don’t like (but your child does), etc.
Instead of thinking only about whether it sparks joy, ask if the object has a purpose and function that makes life easier.
There Is Not One Way of Folding
The KonMari method advocates a specific way of folding, and if it works for you, great! If not, don’t worry about it, use whatever folding works for you. This is one of those times where you don’t want to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. And let’s be honest, some days folding just doesn’t happen at all!
The point of the KonMari method of folding is that you fold and store your clothes so they are visually appealing and easily accessible. If you have another way of folding that does this, go for it!
You Don’t Have to Talk to Your Stuff
While getting really up close and personal with your possessions can help you be more grateful for what you own, you don’t have to talk to your stuff. If it feels silly and doesn’t work for you, let it go. On the other hand, if talking to your possessions does help your mindset around clutter, by all means, continue. If you figure out something else that helps you become more intentional with your possessions, that’s great too.
You Don’t Have to Ask Your Kids’ Permission!
Of course, you should be respectful of your kids’ things but there has to be a limit. I know if I were to ask my kids if I can get rid of a toy (that no one has used for months) it would suddenly become their very favorite toy (for about 10 minutes). Kids, depending on age, may not be able to separate from any of their possessions, even ones they never use. A good way to avoid this is to put into storage a toy you don’t think they will miss. If they don’t miss it after a certain amount of time, then you can get rid of it.
Don’t Be Discouraged When You Need to Declutter Again
Kondo says that her clients never need to declutter again when they use her method. But if you’re a mom, you probably will, and here’s why:
- Kids grow fast! They need new clothes and different toys and games regularly. It’s hard to keep up with.
- People love giving things to kids (or families with kids). The best advice for staying away from clutter is to refuse it in the first place. But many of us have a hard time doing that when we’re given gifts and hand-me-downs from well-meaning friends and family members. Gently try to guide family members to show love through experiences instead of material gifts, but if that doesn’t work, you can express gratitude and let the item(s) go.
Bottom line, it’s an ongoing process when you have kids and the smaller they are (and the more of them you have!) the more stuff they acquire. Don’t be hard on yourself about this one!
If you need some laughter to keep going:
KonMari for Real Moms
Marie Kondo has a lot of great ideas that can help anyone, including busy moms, become more organized and maybe even less stressed and overwhelmed. But there are some tactics that just aren’t practical for moms. With some minor adjustments though, the KonMari method can spur lasting change in even the most hectic home.
If you haven’t checked out The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up yet, I highly recommend it and the show is great for inspiration as well!
Maybe Marie wants to come to my house next? 🙂
Have you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up? How did it work for you?