It's not much of a secret that adding little humans to your life can result in a heck of lot more clutter in your home.
Many parents love the idea of a smaller footprint and less stuff. But that ideal just can't compete with birthdays, Xmas and every other excuse for accumulation. Not to mention the challenge of reasoning with a tiny terrorist when you just want some sleep. It's a story that's told in the comment section of almost every article written on the KonMari Method.
But I assure you that KonMari with kids is definitely possible. Here are some tips on how to keep clutter at bay even with little ones!
1) Start Them Young
Babies express their preferences by either damaging your eardrums or melting you with smiles. That might be a bit too young.
But Marie Kondo suggests that little ones at around 3 years old can start to join in household duties. They can help when their parents tidy up. They can learn to fold clothes the Mari Kondo way - especially if you make it a playful game. And they can even start to decide what toys to keep and to give away. By then, some of them are quite confident about what brings them joy and what doesn’t.
2) Be Flexible
When adults go full KonMari they can discard a truck-load of stuff and still not have to shop for ages. We have what we need and no more.
But children play a mischievous trick that prevents the same scenario. They grow. They get smarter. So parents need to regularly upgrade their clothes, shoes, books and toys. Quite a scheme those kids are running!
So KonMari for kids must be more flexible while keeping to the spirit of the method.
Still try to limit what comes into and stays in your home. Explain to your child that for every toy, book or piece of clothing that comes in, one gets donated.
3) A Place for Everything
Choose a place for every new toy or book that arrives in your home. Get your little one involved in deciding where. And reinforce that it should be returned to that same spot once playtime is over.
Make sure that the storage is easy to reach and not complicated for a child. Bins with no lids and open shelving or cubes are ideal for easy clean up.
4) Coordinate With Friends
Everyone knows the benefit of Hand-Me-Downs. But few recognize the power of the straight up swap. Kids of the same age or size swapping toys, books or clothes.
Set up a Swap with your friends every few months. Your kids will keep getting fresh new gear but the number of items in your home stays the same. It's a win-win!
5) Experiences, Not Things
My partner and I have a habit of giving each other experience gifts as much as possible. We celebrated a birthday with a balloon ride, slept in a tree-house for an anniversary and spent a weekend in a real working ranch for Christmas.
We apply this philosophy to celebrate our friends and their children's milestones: a gift card for brunch to brand new parents, a science museum membership for a budding young paleontologist, tumbling classes for an energetic little gymnast. These are wonderful ways to celebrate someone without creating clutter in their home!
Try encouraging your family and friends to take this approach when giving gifts to your kids. A day at the water park with Grandma and Grandpa is worth more than a thousand noisy toys.
6) Get Inspired
While not everyone is a minimalist (I certainly am not), most people tend to have way more than they need. But many parents out there are finding their own way to teach their children about what is important. Here are some inspiring blogs I follow:
This young Vancouver family lives in a 600 square ft one bedroom apartment with two little ones!
A busy mother of 3, Janine, shares the process of going through her entire home with the KonMari method. I had the pleasure of meeting her while doing my training in NYC. She is as delightful and inspiring in person as she is in her videos!
This family of five shares 1000 sqft in Montreal. Learn how their three kids share one masterfully organized bedroom!
The most important thing is to not be too hard on yourself. What works for your family today, might not be ideal tomorrow. As long as you keep looking for the joy, you are on the right path!