As certified KonMari Consultants, one of the most frequently asked questions we hear is: How do we make our kids, spouses, loved ones tidy up?
The answer? Look inward first.
We can’t force anyone to do anything and expect them to do it joyfully. Lead by example and they will naturally be influenced by experiencing what a calming well-organized environment can do for our wellbeing. Tidying may not be the kind of ‘self-care’ promoted on social media, but transforming your space into a sanctuary is absolutely a form of self-care! Take a quick look around you right now, is your environment supporting who you are and who you are becoming?
If you have read Marie Kondo’s books or watched the Netflix show, you’ll know that there are basic steps to following the method: making a firm commitment right at the start to see it through, keeping only what sparks joy, and tidying by category rather than room. This last one might sound counter-intuitive, but it creates a clear mental inventory of everything we own in a particular category which helps us make more mindful and intentional purchases in the long run.
Tidying with kids requires turning it from a chore into a fun activity…
“Kids, it’s time for a scavenger hunt! Let’s find ALL the legos in the house and bring them to your bedroom.” The same approach can be used for cuddly toys, coloring pencils, or just about anything else!
“Hey gang! Let’s organize the bookshelf, who wants to make a rainbow?” Alternatively you can arrange by theme or even book size, there’s no hard rules – see what sparks joy in your household!
“Girls, I’d love for you to show me what your most favorite things are, and what things we can bless other children with” Involving the kids in the donation process is a great way to teach gratitude and generosity.
There are many wonderful consultants out there who specialise in working with families and have amazing strategies to make it fun. KonMari’ing with kids is also a wonderful opportunity to reconnect and spend quality time. Not only is learning what sparks joy a journey of self-discovery for them, it also helps us parents develop a deeper appreciation for our children’s passions and preferences.
My 7 and 5 year old daughters have been KonMari’ing since they were 2 years old and instilling this practise in them has paid dividends. They have gained more confidence by having their voices heard and decisions respected during the tidying process, have learned to hold gratitude for their living space and belongings, and become more discerning in terms of what toys, books, games and clothes truly spark joy for them.
Once the foundations have been laid by completing the initial “Tidying Festival” (and the kids have been included as active participants in the process) regular maintenance through “Joy Checking” is quick and easy. We do a family joycheck every three months as the girls physically and mentally outgrow their stuff so quickly at this age!
Like tidying and decluttering, Joy Checking with kids can be fun and empowering. Ask them to share why they love a particular item, or don’t enjoy it anymore. What, or who, do their favorite items remind them of? As a parent, the hardest part is to reserve judgement and not project our own views on what should or shouldn’t spark joy for our children. We learn to hold space for their opinions, and acknowledge that those opinions and preferences change over time, just like ours.
Following the Tidying Festival, it’s important to create a system that ensures all your children’s prized possessions have a “home”. This makes future tidying, finding items and maintaining order much easier.
In recent years there has been increased interest in the neuroscience behind decluttering. One Princeton University study found that physical clutter competes for our mental attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased anxiety. Add to the mix a child’s growing brain which already makes focus, impulse control and emotional reactivity a challenge and there should be no question as to the benefits of decluttering for your whole family!
Tidying with kids may seem daunting at first, but it’s well worth persevering. The Konmari Method offers a tried and tested framework to help you get started, and once you find the strategies that work best for you and yours, that home sanctuary will be just around the corner!
Written by: Rebecca Jo-Rushdy
The Tokyo-HK-NYC transplant is Malaysia’s first KonMari certified consultant and founder of Spark Joy & Flow – professionally and passionately dedicated to creating space for joy in people’s lives. Rebecca is also a mother of two daughters and a few dozen house plants.
Disclaimer: You are not allowed to share this article on any other website or on Facebook without providing proper credit and the original article link on theAsianparent Malaysia website.
Read more: Parents, Here Are 10 Ways To Get Your Kids Doing Chores At Home!