As every parent knows, babies have a knack for making an organized life nearly impossible.
When I first read Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” back in 2015, I loved it – but I couldn’t help wondering how on earth one could maintain such an extreme level of organization with children thrown into the mix. I recall reading the detailed description of her return home at the end of the workday, which listed the careful way in which she puts away her shoes, handbag, coat, and makes a cup of tea to enjoy at the table. The peacefulness of her description baffled me, mired as I am in the chaos of parenting. It sounded like life on another planet.
But Kondo is no longer childless; in fact, she’s full-throttle ahead in baby-land, with two daughters born in the past two years. Doubtless her tidying techniques have been put a test far tougher than any other to date, which is why the Wall Street Journal requested an interview to see how it’s going.
Most gratifying for me was hearing Kondo’s admission that she’s always short on time: “Through my first parenting experience, I learned that I had no time to spare at all.” This has led her to tweak the rules for parents of young children. Rather than insisting that entire categories of household items need to be organized at the same time, a main tenet of her philosophy, i.e. all clothes in a closet, Kondo now sees the sense in doing smaller groups of items at a time, such as just T-shirts.
She offered a list of tidying-up tips for young families, three of which I wanted to share here because I think they’re really good.
#1: Start kids tidying from a young age. Kids may be naturally messy, but they can be trained from a young age to pick up their toys, put away clothes, and attempt making the bed. Establishing these habits is important and makes a parent’s job easier. And yes, a two-year-old can learn the KonMari folding technique, as proven by her own daughter.
#2: Determine how much space your kid gets. Kondo discussed this with her husband during pregnancy, which is smart. It makes it easier to say no to random stuff that doesn’t fit within those limits. Make sure the kids know about those limits, too. WSJ writes:
“When we found out we were having a child, my husband and I went through a decluttering festival by reviewing things we had. And we discussed how much space—for example, how many drawers—we could give to our daughter.” By creating clear boundaries for the children’s things, she says, they made it easier to decide how much was too much.
#3: Be a good example to them. Seeing their parents valuing a tidy space and taking time to tidy up is, perhaps, the most important lesson of all. Not all of us love tidying as much as Kondo does, obviously, but this is the golden parenting rule – act the way you expect your kids to act.