Photo by Julie Turner
So goes the mantra of home-organization sensation Marie Kondo. You may have heard of her 2014 bestseller The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, or seen her recently released Netflix show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” or perhaps you have a friend who has suddenly started gushing about how she has been “Konmari-ing” her life. But what lies behind this strange fascination with tidying, and how can a method based simply on what “sparks joy” apply to the busy, often chaotic life of new parents?
In our culture of deep consumerism, many Americans struggle with clutter, and it can be an especially painful stressor for parents to young children trying to maintain some form of order in their lives. The KonMari Method is a radically simple, yet deep-reaching process for banishing clutter in a once-and-for-all tidying event. More than merely “organizing,” the method is intended to be a journey inward, a path to transforming your mindset for a new, more intentional lifestyle, starting in the home.
Below you will find 5 key points of the KonMari Method useful in tidying the clutter that comes with the birth of a child. These strategies can be incorporated at any time, but it is always recommend that you focus on tidying your own items before approaching those of a child or family member. If you are interested in a deeper exploration of the KonMari Method, head over to Marie Kondo’s website or find a local consultant who can assist you in your journey to a tidy home.
1. Visualize: Take just 3-5 minutes to visualize what you want to gain by tidying your possessions. Is it more time? More space? Spaciousness of mind? The path to achieving your goals is much clearer if you point your compass in the right direction. Once you have your vision in mind, tell yourself and your family out loud: you deserve this. And so does your baby.
2. Does it spark joy?: When considering your baby’s items, rather than focus on what you are discarding give attention to what you would like to keep and honor in your home. Examine each item and ask: “does this spark joy?” It may take time to learn what this means to you, but joy should feel like a kind of uplift - emotionally and physically - an upward rising from the spirit of the things in your home. Another way to phrase this may be: does this item serve a joyful purpose?
a. Donation: For items you wish to discard, check out a local women’s shelter to pass them on to other parents in need.
b. Future children: Keep only those items that are in good condition and would spark joy for you to use again. Store items in a clear box so that you can easily identify where everything is.
3. Gratitude: Expressing thanks to the items we discard, especially sentimental items such as your baby’s outgrown clothes or toys, is the best way to gain the emotional independence required to let go. For particularly special items, thank them out loud and express the purpose they served in your baby’s life.
4. Gifts: Babies often come with a stream of well-intended gifts from family and friends that can clutter your life with unnecessary complexity. Remember: the purpose of a gift is to express the sentiment of the giver, and this purpose is fulfilled the moment the gift is given. You can then ask yourself: can this item take its own independent purpose in my home, or can I thank it and let it go?
Photo by Julie Turner
a. De-package: Whenever possible, remove packaging and labels to reduce the stress of visual noise.
b. Vertical storage: Store your items vertically instead of stacked, like books on a shelf, so that you can see them all at a glance. The KonMari Method of folding is an excellent way to see this technique in action!
c. Sub-compartmentalize: Shoeboxes, small electronics boxes, and other common household containers are a great alternative to purchasing expensive and complex storage systems. Divide the space within a drawer or on a shelf to dedicate space to different items. Simple bins are excellent ways to store toys, easily divided by type or size so that as your baby grows, he or she can learn to put toys away with ease.
Tidying your home is not just for your own peace of mind – it is also an invaluable resource for your baby. Children are affected by the energy around them and are naturally calmer and less stressed in a tidy home. Teaching your children to be invested in their home and their possessions sets them up for success in their own lives later on. As soon as they can walk, you can use games to guide in the motion of putting a toy back into a bin. Around age 3, children can start to learn the KonMari folding method. Even just demonstrating an intentional, tidy lifestyle can be a huge benefit.
A complete and in-depth tidying of the home can be a wonderful way to prepare for the birth of a new child during the nesting phase. However, once your baby has arrived, you may feel overwhelmed at the prospect of taking on a project of this size. This is perfectly natural! Start small by incorporating some of the techniques below in a single area, such as your diaper changing station or toy storage. Then, when you feel you are ready, take the method step by step, focusing on a single task at a time, and remember that even the smallest steps are valuable progress bringing you closer to your goals.
And at any stage, a joyful, tidy home that manifests who you are and who you want to be as a parent and a family is a beautiful and priceless gift.
Contributed by Shannon Choudhari, Certified KonMari Method Tidying Consultant, and Founder of Organized Whimsy, www.organizedwhimsy.com.
Thank you for explaining some of this more. I liked the show but had some difficulty going through my own things. Specifically gifts we have been given but not used. I feel bad getting rid of it.
This is so helpful!