Did you know that kids can do the KonMari Method™ too? Yup, and it gives us great joy to announce that you CAN get the kids to spring clean for the new year — easily! — with decluttering queen Marie Kondo’s tips. Try it!
Tiny but mighty when it comes to tossing out and cleaning up, Marie Kondo is the expert organiser whose KonMari Method™ is helping to turn households from ugh to ahhh. She glided into our lives with her 2012 bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, teaching us how to turn the chaos in our homes into serenity. Her new Netflix show Tidying Up With Marie Kondo has just hit the small screen and already our IG feed is littered (haha) with hashtags like #MarieKondoSavedMyCondo (just kidding).
Needless to say, we’re inspired! Good timing too, with the Lunar New Year fast approaching. It’s time to prepare for yet another round of spring cleaning but this time, mummy, get the kids to help out. Yes, adding another plus to the KonMarie Method™ side of the scale is the fact that children can easily do it too! Kondo, who has two daughters, shares that you can use the KonMari Method™ with little ones as young as two (see her adorable ones in the screenshot from her Instagram below). Here’s how to start:
First, Go by Category of Things, not by Room
You’re probably ready to rush into a room and start throwing things out. Stop! With the KonMari Method™ you clean by item, not by room. Firstly, pick a category of things that you want to clear up. Kondo suggests starting with clothes, followed by books, documents, miscellaneous items, and lastly, sentimental items.
Next, choose what to keep instead of deciding what to get rid of. The key principle here is that each person should make the decision for themselves.
But what if my child decides that she would rather hold on to that grubby, stinky ‘chou-chou’ and get rid of her nice, new – insert item here? Let her. Forcing someone to keep or give up an item could possibly have a negative effect on how they view decluttering or cleaning in the future. And you want your child to be able to eventually let it go, remember?
How to KonMari CLOTHES
What Kids Can Do: Gather the kids around the pile of clothes. Ask them to hug a piece of clothing close to them, and see if it gives them joy (in Kondo lingo, whether it “sparks joy”). If it does, keep it. If not, thank the item for the joy it has brought you, then let it go. This is the key concept in the Kon Mari method.
“Rubbish!” I hear the more cynical among us say. “You think my fickle child with ever-changing tastes could ever decide what brings her ‘joy’?” But wait. Have some faith in your little one. Kondo believes that children as young as three years can decide what gives them joy, and hence, what they should keep. As she told The Australian newspaper, “It’s never too early to learn how to tidy up. You can let your children take on a challenge when they turn about one year old, after they learn how to walk.”
Ultimately, she believes, this process inspires us to express gratitude for what we’ve had in our lives (while helping with decluttering, of course).
(See also: Spring-clean Your Kids’ Medicine Cabinet)
How to KonMari BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS
Dealing with your child’s growing library can be tough. If yours is a book-lover, every single book will spark joy and he will refuse to let any go.
What Kids Can Do: Kondo suggests creating a ‘hall of fame’ for your child’s most treasured books. This can include their favourite bedtime stories, most-read books, or books that they enjoy that can be read again in the future. Then gently, suggest to them that they can ‘thank’ the other books for the joy they’ve given them, and allow the books to bring joy to other children. How? By donating them.
(See also: Where to Donate Books and more in Singapore)
By reinforcing this concept of giving thanks, the kids will (read: are supposed to) learn to be grateful for all that they have. Furthermore, they’ll learn that by having a spirit of giving, they’ll be able to bring joy to others, too.
How to KonMari KIDS’ ART PROJECTS & CRAFTY CREATIONS
School work and art projects belong to the “Sentimental Items” category. Deal with these last.
What Kids Can Do: Gather Kiddo, and allow him to keep anything that continues to – yes – spark joy in him. The work and art projects that children complete give them a sense of accomplishment – which they shouldn’t be forced to relinquish. In fact, if your children take great pride in any particular works, display them for everyone to see, Kondo advises. This will inspire confidence in your kids to continue creating, she says.
One easy way to introduce the concept of cleaning to children is to create a store-away area for their items. Make sure they keep their items in the agreed upon location, and that it is always stored in that place.
“What a parent can certainly do with children is to make sure that they understand that for each item they own, there should be a place in the room,” Kondo told Real Simple. “And that after an item is used, it should be put back in its proper place.”
Kondo was surprised to find her daughter Satsuki, then aged two, placing her books, stuffed animals, and toys back in their assigned spaces more precisely than expected. By instilling this sense of responsibility in your child, you could be pleasantly surprised too!
Banish Clutter with Kondo and the Kids
Remember, decluttering is a family affair and everyone in the household should take part in it (dads too!), and take responsibility for clearing out their own things. With your child, it should be a collaborative process, something that you can do together as parent and child. Older ones should be able to do it on their own once they grasp the concept.
Do note that decluttering with the KonMari Method™ can take a long time, so be patient with your child. Deciding to let go of a possession can be very hard to do! Most importantly, let your child decide what gives them joy, and what doesn’t. In addition to being a lesson in thankfulness, this can also be a process of empowerment for your child.
By starting your children early on this path of decluttering, you’ll be instilling a sense of responsibility and gratitude in them. And guess what? The house will be clean, clear, and ready to receive abundant prosperity in the Lunar New Year. Win-win, right? And of course, huat ah!
Featured image: huyen
Header image: breather