Tidying expert Marie Kondo broke onto the scene with her New York Times bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and her hit Netflix series Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. She has a few simple principles to her method, which she calls KonMari, that requires you clean your house by category versus going room by room. Start with clothing, then move on to miscellaneous items, and be willing to let go of things that you don’t need or, as she puts it, that don’t “spark joy.”
In her Netflix series, Kondo helps many families clean and organize their entire homes, simplify their lives, and feel a huge sigh of relief as they commit to spending more time together. How can you apply her methods to organizing your kid’s room? Here are 10 ways.
10 Commit To Making A Day Of It
First, talk with your child and commit to dedicating an entire day to the organization process. Pick a day when there’s nothing else going on, whether it’s a freezing cold winter day or a thunderstorm that's keeping you inside.
Make sure they fully understand the project and are ready to get rid of items and make their room a nicer place to be. Perhaps even promise a reward at the end of the job, like ice cream or a cozy movie night.
9 Work Through The Room By Category
One of the six basic rules of the KonMari method is to tidy up by category, not by location. So start with clothes in the closet, drawers, and other areas.
When handling stuffed animals, don’t just grab the ones on the bed, but others that might be tucked away in a toy box, displayed on shelves, or elsewhere in the house. This way, the child can see what they have and, most importantly, how much they have in each category of items.
8 Have Them Select What Sparks “Joy”
At the heart of the KonMari method is keeping only those items that “spark joy,” whether it’s clothing, books, or miscellaneous items. Go through everything from their clothes to their books, stuffed animals, and even artwork from school, and pick a select amount of each one that sparks the most joy.
Look for items with sentimental value. Your child might have a drawer full of art projects and pictures they drew, but which ones are most important? Which ones are the best ones, or those that conjure up special memories? Keep only those and get rid of the rest.
7 Discard, Discard, Discard
While the KonMari method doesn’t necessarily push you to throw stuff out, this is a by-product of selecting only the items that spark joy. Once you’ve gone through everything in a particular category, gather all of the items you don’t need or want into garbage bags or bags for donation, and have your child look at everything they were keeping that wasn’t necessary.
This might help them realize how much they were hoarding, and how much joy other kids who are less fortunate might get from the puzzle they haven't played with in years or the toys that have been collecting dust on the shelf.
6 Reorganize & Refold Clothing in Drawers
Clothing is one of the first items that the kids should go through. As per Kondo’s advice, take everything out and pile it up on the bed. Seeing the massive mountain is a wake-up call for anyone, child or adult. Then, go through the items one by one, helping your child decide what they should keep or donate.
Have them try on items to see if they still fit or “spark joy” when they see themselves in the mirror wearing it. If an item of clothing hasn’t been worn in a year, it’s time to get rid of it. Once you’ve gone through everything, hang delicate items in the closet, organized by type, and fold other items compactly (usually in thirds, as per KonMari) in the drawer so the child can easily see each item and pick what they want to wear each day.
5 Reduce Clutter, Displaying Only What’s Most Important
Regardless of what types of items you’re going through, aim to reduce clutter overall. On walls, shelves, and other open spaces, display only what’s important. Maybe it’s a family photo, collectible items on a shelf, a piggy bank, or a special ornament.
Don’t try and jam-pack shelves or walls with too much, as that can make a room look smaller and far more cluttered.
4 Organize The Closet
Once you’ve gone through all of the clothing, select which items will go in the closet, like jeans, button-down shirts, ties, hairbands, and summer dresses. Then organize them in a logical fashion, by type, season, and size. Teach your child how to keep it organized and have them get involved in the process of what goes where. For smaller children, make sure they can reach items they wear every day.
If the closet has shelves, organize items like hairbands, belts, and other accessories so they can be easily retrieved when needed. Kondo is big on using boxes to store like items together in a neat and tidy manner. It not only organizes your items, but it also reduces the look of mess as well.
3 Use Boxes To Organize Small Items In Drawers
Most items that fall under the “miscellaneous” or komono category include small things like pens, paper, trinkets, and other things that are usually tucked away in a drawer. Find random small boxes without lids or drawer organizers and place them in the bottom of the drawer first so the child can use them to organize items accordingly.
Maybe one small box is for pens, pencils, crayons, and other crafting utensils; another is for costume jewelry; another for notepads or a diary; another for electronic devices, like an iPad or headphones; and so on. This way, the child not only knows where everything is when they need it but also knows where to put it back. If you want to get really organized, considering labeling each box, too.
2 Set Up A Bookshelf
Dedicate a single shelf for books and have the child keep only those they really need and want. Then, donate the rest to a local library or school. Keep books that they haven’t yet read, favorites and classics, reference books like a dictionary or encyclopedia, religious books, photo albums, and other books with sentimental value.
While it’s tempting to keep every piece of artwork they’ve ever created, or every story or report they wrote, resist the temptation. Consider getting a binder or folder where you can keep all of the items worth retaining for posterity in one spot instead of littered throughout the room. Don’t forget that books can create a lot of clutter, not to mention dust.
1 Minimize Overall
Altogether, just minimize the number of items the child has in every category and ensure everything is neatly in one place. Consider that if you do laundry once a week, the child really only needs a handful of outfits, times two if you live somewhere with seasonal weather. Chances are the child only plays with a handful of toys, games, and puzzles and reads only a handful of books. So take a hard look at everything inside the room and focus on keeping the most important items.
If there are items you simply can’t part with, and that don’t fit anywhere in the newly-organized layout, store them in neatly stackable bins, hidden away at the top or bottom of the closet. The items in that bin can be revisited again next year, at which point you can decide what was worth keeping and what can go during the next round of cleaning.