January 28, 2019
Posted By: Jessica Geary-Cecotti
I’m sure by now if you haven’t read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or seen her Netflix series Tidying Up, you’ve at least heard of them in passing. My interest in the subject of tidying was peaked about four-and-a-half years ago when a gal pal mentioned this quirky Japanese lady, a professional organizer, whose motto was basically to only own things that sparked joy for you. Now for some, this might seem a bit airy fairy, but not for me. I instantly resonated with this idea and after devouring her book in two days (I’m not an avid reader) and then binge watching Tidying Up (more my style); I was in love with Marie Kondo. The way she brings sweet attention and respect to each person’s home and belongings is simply endearing. Every time she greets a client’s home and the soft sentimental music plays my eyes well up. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all a touchy-feely sap-fest, there is some major psychology mixed up in people’s motivation to hold on to stuff and Kondo helps shine a light on it. I won’t go into too much detail about Konmari (the name of her method), cause if you’ve read her book then you know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t - I highly recommend you run out and pick up a copy (I got mine at The Country Bookshelf on Main) or at least catch a few episodes on Netflix.
My goal is not to write a book review, it’s to share with you some tips for implementing the Konmari method with kids. In theory, the principles of the method are super simple, all you have to do is go through everything in your entire house, item by item, hold it to your heart and ask if it sparks joy (there’s a little more to it, folding techniques and such, but you get the gist). There is obviously some time and physical energy you need to put into the process, but from what I’ve done in my own home so far, it truly is, at the very least, semi-life changing. The way you feel when you enter a room that has been tidied is amazing. The energy is cleaner, lighter and that area of your life is just plain better. But back to the kids...even though Marie touches on tidying up with kids in her show, it hardly addresses the fact that kids are a key factor in how things get so out of whack in the first place. They throw (sometimes literally) a tiny toy wrench into the whole system.
Let’s say you “put your house in order,” you go through every item down to the last paperclip. Everything sparks joy, everything has a home, you’ve folded your guts out (two other key principle in the Konmari method) and your house is finally tidy. Hooray! Not so fast. With kids... this state of being is temporary. I won’t even get started on toys, for this post let’s just focus on the clothing category. The thing about kids is that they are constantly growing. You can tidy your closet and not have to worry about it again for a year or more if you don’t want to. But with kids, it’s not that easy. If you aren’t persistently circulating out clothes that no longer fit, then things get out of hand fast. This gets exponentially more difficult the more kids you have. And, if you think you are going to have more kids in the future, this adds another degree of difficulty. I have definitely not solved all the challenges of utilizing the Konmari method with kids, but hopefully these steps created for the clothing category will help maximize your efforts in tidiness!
1. You must, I repeat, must create a schedule and routine for maintaining your kid’s clothing.
After you’ve organized and tidied like a boss, you’ve got to do routine maintenance. There’s no way it will stay organized if you leave things unattended for more than two months at a time. Go through clothes and shoes on a regular basis. This way you’ll only have what fits and sparks joy in their wardrobe. The drawers shouldn’t be busting with things they no longer need.
I do both of my boys’ rooms at the same time so I can transition hand-me-downs into the younger one’s room and get all the items I need to donate/sell out of the house. This also helps me keep a close eye on the inventory of what they each have and what they each need. Tell Alexa, mark it on your Google calendar and schedule it to repeat regularly.
NOTE: If you’re planning on having another baby (or two), then keep only the special items you know you’ll need (and love) for the next child. Store these organized items in a clear bin where you can access it easily when you do your routine maintenance. This also goes for storing hand-me-downs that your younger kid isn’t quite ready for.
The clear bin on the top shelf contains possible baby #3 clothing and/or sentimental baby clothes I want to save for my boys.
2. Make intentional shopping trips when you need to update their wardrobe.
I didn't use to do this. I was the kind of person who picked up random items I thought were ‘cute’ while at Target, often only half present, chasing my boys around the store. There’s nothing wrong with this, but if you want to maximize your tidying efforts and your budget you’ll put a little more thought into clothes shopping from now on. This step should be followed immediately after the first step. I now make a concerted effort to drop into Once Upon a Child to sell the no longer needed clothing and to replenish what my kids are in need of now. It’s a win-win! You go in with the items they’ve outgrown, then while they sort through your things, you go pick up new items they need (and that spark joy), then use the money from your old clothes (they give you cash on the spot and 10% off if it’s the same day) to purchase your new wardrobe items. Then you go home and effortlessly transition the new clothes into the slots from the discarded pieces. No more overflowing dressers! This step makes the whole process more cost, time and energy efficient, not to mention eco and local friendly (if you’re into those sorta things).
Note: If you want to get the most money for your items, don’t bring them stuffed into a black garbage bag. It’s best if you bring them neatly folded like the image below. You’ll get more money for them and they can sort them quicker. I highly recommend you bring in only CLEAN items, too.
I make Once Upon a Child the first stop of the day so that I can take the clothing they don’t buy and the clothes I need to donate straight to Goodwill or Salvation Army.
Laundry basket with CLEAN and folded clothes to take to OUAC. It's a good idea to checkout the guidelines on their website for which items they are in most need of and which they don't accept. The image on the right is the receipt for the items I sold them with the 10% off coupon for same day purchases.
3. Do laundry more often!
Just saying...and not at all in a judgy way. Until recently, we had a mountain of clothes piled in our master bedroom. I would get so behind on laundry that this pile became like our family dresser. My oldest would instinctively head to our room when he needed to get dressed for school (I’m cringing as I type this for everyone to read). I had every intention to fold and put things away, but the unorganized closets and dressers (pre-Konmari salvation) would prevail and crush my dreams every time. But now that things are way more manageable, I actually like to do laundry. There’s a weird satisfaction I get now when putting each item back in it’s little home all folded and happy (forget family portraits, I’m bringing in a professional photographer to document my dressers!). If I need a little moral boost mid-day, you can find me staring into my drawers, running my fingers over my soft beautiful clothes and telling them “thank you” for all they do for me.
Annnnyway...after you get organized it’s much easier to keep up with the laundry as long as you don’t wait three to four weeks in between loads. And after tidying up, you’ll likely have way less clothing items, so even if you get behind on the laundry, the once mountain is now more like a molehill.
Note (to self): If you are “smell testing” your kid’s underwear, it’s time to do the laundry!
Top drawer contains pajamas, swimwear, socks and (someday) underwear.
Second drawer contains current shirts and pants.
Third drawer contains hand-me-downs that he's not quite ready for.
It can be a messy world. Good luck out there and I’ll see you on the tidy side.
Stay tuned for more “Adventures in Tidyinghood”!
Jessica Geary-Cecotti is the Social Media Manager for Montana Parent and owner of her own graphic design studio, Flora Fauna Designs. Nature and animals have always held a special place in her heart and continue to be her most profound source of inspiration. She is the mother of two wildly awesome boys and borderline believes in mermaids.