The Konmari trend started back in 2014 when Japanese home organization expert Marie Kondo published her international bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, in English. I first heard about it on Instagram. A few bloggers who I follow were doing it. Progress photos showed counters buried in paper, mountains of clothing, and small armies of shampoo bottles.
The idea is that if you have a home full of the things that you truly treasure, then you’ll naturally care for them, put them in their places, and have more space in your life to do the things you want to do. There will still be dishes and laundry, dusting and daily upkeep. But it’s so much more manageable than it was in a house full of unwanted chaos.
There were many questions, though. Blogs, Facebook groups, and experts emerged. Some were considered hardcore Konmari followers while others tolerated deviations from the rules. When Spark Joy was released, many of the lingering doubts about what Kondo intended to teach were answered. We knew what to do when our broom didn’t spark joy for us.
The backlash phase of the trend has been going around too. And maybe you agree. Maybe Konmari sounds nice but not really practical–especially for a mom, especially for a mom who homeschools. Konmari is often conflated with minimalism. This leads people to think it might not be for them because the have a lot of stuff that they aren’t interested in getting rid of. But this really isn’t about the ‘right’ number of things or getting rid of stuff. It’s all about what you choose to keep.
So today I’m sharing how our adventure with Konmari really did improve our home and lives.
I started when I was pregnant with M. We had recently moved to a small apartment and I needed to declutter because our stuff-to-space ratio was overwhelming. I’m a skeptic so I started Konmari with the intention of proving it wrong. But the more I read–especially the second book– the more I agreed with what she was saying. Spark Joy is definitely a must-read if you intend to implement her ideas into your home. It is, in my opinion, all the things that her editors should have asked her to clarify in the first book.
The whole process took a long time. It’s supposed to. And I feel like I’m as finished as I can be after about a year and a half. I’ve written about Konmari before but I wanted to give ourselves more time before I wrote this comprehensive overview. I wanted to be able to explain how it had worked for us–real life–over the past many months.
Include kids in the process.
A lot of people worry about how they will get through Konmari with kids in the house. I used the same tactic that I use with any cleaning activity: Invite them to join in. If they don’t want to help, I don’t ‘make’ them, but they have to play on their own and at least not create a catastrophic mess. Most of the time, they wanted to help for at least a little bit. There are lots of things kids can take part in. Kids are experts at taking things out of drawers and cupboards. They helped sort and even label. Make it into a search-and-find game. Anthropomorphize your stuff and have a laugh at two blankets arguing over which one is more cozy.
Be patient and DON'T STOP.
You won’t be done with Konmari this week or this month. Don’t do this with a deadline in mind and try to enjoy the process. Including your kids means it will take longer. You’ll take baby steps. Work on one small sub category at a time. If you trust yourself to keep on going, you will eventually get done. Celebrate small achievements. Before starting, you might want to make a list of subcategories to work on. The key is breaking it down into bite-size pieces.
I like to put an image in my mind of a person hiking up a mountain. Yes, the view will be amazing at the top, but the journey to get there can be enjoyable too– if we aren’t in such a rush.
Respect their stuff and be open to compromise.
It’s really tempting to load up all those toys that your kids never play with and sneak them out of the house. And for really young kids like younger than two, this approach might have it’s merits. But once your children are able to understand and reason, it’s vital to all ow them to make the decisions about their own stuff, otherwise they won’t learn a thing. Before you even get to their toys, though, you should have modeled the process with your own stuff. This is why you want to invite them to help you go through mundane household items that they aren’t likely to care much about. They need to see what’s happening and how this will make their lives better. Yes, their toys might be the biggest clutter culprits but they should not be first on the chopping block.
One compromise that worked for us was putting a few toys away for a bit to see if my son missed them. There were a few things I knew he’d outgrown but he wasn’t ready to part with. We talked about it and decided to put it away for a few weeks just to see. Another important part of the learning experience is the problem solving aspect of home organization. Kid doesn’t want to part with something? Fine, but he’s going to need to come up with an idea for where to store it.
Temporary storage is vital.
I think one of the reasons that people can’t wait to be done with the process is that your home may be a little topsy-turvy while everything is in transit. Especially when you have curious little hands, you’ll want to make use of temporary storage. I would take out a subcategory, decide what to keep, and put it away in a temporary location. The smaller your subcategories are, the quicker you can get them finished. Resist the urge to drop money on new storage. Make do with what you’ve got until you have completely finished the first phase of deciding what to keep. Once you are confident that all the items in your home spark joy and need to stay, you can go back through and assign everything a permanent home.
Explain your heart out.
Keep talking to your kids about what you are doing and why. I explained how having too much laundry was stressful to me. And how having too many clothes made me feel overwhelmed and like I didn’t know what to wear. I talked about how I wanted everything to be able to fit nicely in the closet so I could see what I had and explained the steps I was taking to make things easier. Clue them in to your master plans for the home. I told my kids that I knew they didn’t like it when I was busy cleaning up the house all day so by taking steps to reduce and organize we would make the house easier to take care of and make room for more fun. Don’t underestimate your kids: there’s a lot that even the youngest can understand.
So how does this relate to homeschooling?
This is primarily a homeschooling blog so why am I talking about home organization? In my mind, this is just as important a life skill as 5+5. To be successful adults, my kids need to be able to make good decisions about what they consume. We have a culture that begins advertising to kids with their first diaper. My goal is to teach them to recognize and question that consumer mentality. By teaching them to honestly evaluate what they have, they will get practice making choices about what they truly need and what’s important.
The other, more practical way this relates to homeschooling is that I need to keep my home in check if I’m going to be able to spend my days working with the kids! I can’t be spending a lot of time cleaning up or searching for materials. Konmari has made a huge difference in keeping me organized so I can spend my energy on educating my kids. And that is a priceless gift.
What about you? Konmari-skeptic or True Believer? Any questions?
Oh and here are some adorable visuals that we love from Juju Sprinkles!
Here are a few snaps from my IG relating to our #konmari adventure. I’ll try to update yall with a few ‘after’ shots. Let me know what you want to see!