Are you familiar with the KonMari method? It was created by Marie Kondo, author of the hit book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It’s gained fame and fans worldwide since 2014 – and more recently with the 2019 Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. It’s all inspiring parents to try their hand at some KonMari for families, too.
After all, with her business and books, this Japanese organizing consultant has helped people all over the globe simplify and organize their homes. Kondo also encourages people only to keep things that “speak to their heart” or “spark joy” in their lives. (Spark Joy is actually the title of her 2016 follow-up book – and there’s a manga version, too.)
In fact, you can even become a KonMari certified consultant (more on that in a bit). So Metro Parent connected with two of these tidying experts – both of whom have plenty of experience with kids – to offer their best, boiled-down tips on KonMari for families.
About the experts
Ivanka Siolkowsky of The Tidy Moose is based out of Toronto in Canada. She’s a former elementary school teacher who helped her students stay organized in the classroom – and then decided to take it to the next level and help adults and children with organizing their homes, too. She travels all over the world helping people do just that.
And, here in southeast Michigan, Kate Sood of Simply Tidy is based out of Ann Arbor. She’s also an elementary school teacher and travels around metro Detroit to help people tidy their homes.
Tip #1: Approach your clutter by category
“In order to tackle your home, do things by category – not by room,” says Siolkowsky. The five main categories are clothing, books, papers, miscellaneous and sentimental.
Sood explains you can even break it down more and tackle items by subcategory – which can help kids and parents during the process of trying KonMari for families.
“For example – by shirts, shoes or pants,” Sood says. Encourage kids to keep what they know fits them and what they’re actually going to wear.
Tip #2: Try different storing techniques
“Folding your clothing in thirds and storing them vertically is life-changing,” says Siolkowsky. “It allows for you to see everything in your drawers and gives you much more room to store clothing within your drawers.”
This applies to everything from T-shirts and pants to socks and undies. The KonMari basic folding method helps clothing to stand upright in drawers – instead of winding up in a big jumbled mess.
Kondo writes about folding whatever clothes you can instead of keeping everything on hangers in the closet.
Tip #3: Get rid of stuff
“The less you own, the easier it will be to maintain it,” says Siolkowsky. “So really ask yourselves the tough questions: ‘Does this item really bring me joy?’ and ‘Is it making my life better by having it?'”
If not, she says, get rid of it! There’s no point in keeping something you don’t like, just because someone else gave it to you or you think you might need it one day. As Kondo puts it, “it might come in handy” is taboo.
“Don’t just pawn your unwanted items onto family members,” Siolkowsky adds. “Take them to Goodwill or somewhere that needs them.
“Donate and repurpose as much as you can,” she adds. “Throwing things in the garbage doesn’t mean it just disappears. Landfills are growing and it’s having a huge effect on our environment. Remember the bigger picture.”
Tip #4: Find a place for everything you keep
Everything in your house should have its own place. “Respect the things you own by giving each of them a home,” says Siolkowsky.
Sood adds, “I encourage my clients to find ways to display the objects they have chosen to keep. After all, these are the things that spark joy.”
You’ll be in a better mood, the thinking goes, when you’re are surrounded by items that make you happy or smile – whether it’s a treasured collection or some of your kids’ latest artwork. Think about that when you’re displaying items.
“After tidying, you will be surrounded by only the items that you love in your home,” Sood says. “Many of my clients have described this as a cathartic experience.”
Tailoring KonMari for families
While Kondo’s books are a great place to start, you can also find a bevy of blogs chronicling other parents’ KonMari tidying adventures.
That can be helpful if you’re trying to dig into the full-on KonMari method – which literally evaluates everything your family owns and can be a bit overwhelming for some.
Siolkowsky also has an ebook called Declutter Your Way to Health, Wealth and Freedom, which is about $5 on Amazon. “It’s a quick read,” she adds, “taking people through tips and tricks of organization and illustrating the benefits it can have on many different lifestyles.”
You can also visit the KonMari website and search for a consultant in your area or one that travels to you – like Siolkowsky or Sood.
Conversely, if you feel like you’ve mastered KonMari and want to take it to the next level yourself, you too can become a certified consultant.
“They have to keep an eye on the website to see when the courses are available,” says Siolkowsky. “You must attend a course, and then complete a certain number of hours.”
Have you used the KonMari method in your home? What tips would you add that worked well with your children? Let us know in the comments!
This post was originally published in 2019 and is updated regularly.