Organizing sensation Marie Kondo first taught us about the joys of decluttering in her best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, then through her gorgeous line of organizational tools. Now, the expert's sharing her tidying expertise in the form of her new Netflix show.
But as anyone with kids will tell you, LEGOs, toy cars, dolls, and crayons can overtake your otherwise spotless home before you can even say "spark joy." How are parents supposed to keep their children's clutter at bay? Here, Kondo, whose own passion for sorting out messes began as a child, shares her tips for clearing up toys and, perhaps more importantly, getting the little ones involved in the tidying process.
Lead By Example
If your clothes are all over the floor and this morning's dishes are still stilling on the counter by dinnertime, don't expect your kids to take cleaning up very seriously. "One thing I strive to do is to show by example," says Kondo. "I make sure to fold the laundry in front of my daughters, even if they're still young, so that they can see how much I am enjoying tidying. I want them to learn that tidying is a comforting and enjoyable process."
Start Them Young
Kondo insists that children as young as three-years-old can begin decluttering with the KonMari method. "When they are starting off, I advise parents to let them fold their own clothing," she says. "When children adopt the habit of folding the things they use every day, and putting it back in its designated place, it becomes easier for them to learn how to tidy anything."
Do the "Joy" Test
Can Kondo's signature technique work with little ones? The expert says she tested it out on her daughter Satsuki when she turned three. "It's just how we do it with grown-ups," says Kondo. "We gathered all of her toys and went through them one-by-one, and asked her which ones she wanted to keep. And it went surprisingly well."
"However, if your child has a meltdown at the thought of tossing his favorite old truck, meaning it sparks joy in him, he should keep it, says Kondo. To ensure that not all toys are treasured keepers, Kondo says establish boundaries for storage and set up a rule so that they can only keep what fits within those boundaries. Another tip: "It's important to gather all the toys first and really explain what you're trying to do. Say to them, 'Your toys are starting to overflow a little bit, let's keep the ones you really want to cherish and take care of,'" she says. "You'd be surprised at how responsive kids can be."
Think Before You Buy
Before your next Target spree, Kondo suggest thinking about how much space you can dedicate for your children at home. Before you buy, think: "These toys go on these two shelves, and clothes are stored from here to here in the closet," she says. Being specific is key. "By clearly designating space where you will store your children's belongings, you'll become more aware of how much you should buy," says Kondo. And brining way too much stuff into your house in the first place is how the problem begins.
Dedicate a Place for Everything
When it comes to organizing children's toys and playrooms, Kondo has two key tips: dedicate a place for every item, and make storage as simple as possible. "It is very important to decide a fixed location for everything," she says. "Small objects such as stuffed animals tend to be spread around the house, but by having a designated place for them, you can easily return them and clear up your floors and surfaces." Also, as a fundamental rule, store items of the same category together: clothes with clothes, books with books, toys with toys, puzzles with puzzles. "If you let your children know where their belongings are stored, the room will be easy to tidy up."