We know our kids have more than they need and they constantly get even more as they grow – as presents or hand-me-downs. How do we usually deal with this ever-expanding surplus? Once in a while, we take the plunge and go through their toys and clothes to find what can be discarded or donated, but the moment stuff starts accumulating again, we usually resort to:
- Buying extra containers and bins
- Sticking labels on everything (hello, OCD parents)
- Investing in bigger storage units
- Storing kids’ stuff that does not fit in their room in other rooms of the house
Sounds familiar? But guess what, containing the surplus is not solving the issue of having the surplus and overzealous categorization in a form of multiple containers and bins is actually something kids can not handle well. First of all, they are easily overwhelmed with too many choices of anything. Second, many of them are still learning categorizing – you know, that skill that helps you put legos with legos and stuffed animals with stuffed animals? If you are creating a lot of subcategories and many different places to store things, putting toys away becomes such a chore that it takes more time than playing with them. And kids don’t like that. In fact, it’s unfair to tell your child to “clean your room” if their room has never been mindfully simplified and downsized first. And by downsizing I mean creating enough floor space to build a fortress or set up an elaborate pretend play. Can your kids room do that right now?
The reason why Kon Mari method is so effective for organizing kids rooms is that it forces you to rethink what you keep in your kids room in the first place and how much stuff you allow in your child’s space. You do that by reviewing every single item in your child’s room by category in the right order – clothes, books, papers (study-related), komono (toys + other), and finally sentimental items. Your main criteria for keeping something is asking yourself and your child if the item sparks joy. The review process is likely to take several weekends but the idea is that you only do it once to produce a permanent shift in the opposite direction from overconsumption and connect with your intuition on what sparks joy for you and your child. Parting with things will become a natural habit for your children and appreciating things they want to keep a mindful choice.
In the rest of this article and in the next couple of posts, I am offering recommendations for step by step implementation of Kon Mari method to completely transform your child’s room. These recommendations are based on my in-depth study of Kon Mari home organization method, my own experience using it, and observations from my practice sessions with clients, which are now fully underway.
Apply Kon Mari method to your possessions first
Before you foray into organizing your child’s room, at a minimum, please declutter your own clothes using Kon Mari method. Gather up all your clothes in one spot, take each item into your hands and ask yourself if it sparks joy. Keep clothes that spark joy, take the plunge and part with the rest thanking each garment for its service to you. Only after you experience the joy of a lighter and happier wardrobe and feel the liberating power of downsizing, you’ll be truly motivated to re-organize your kids room in a way you never attempted before. More importantly, I promise you that you will be compelled to teach your kids the “spark joy” selection criteria, which will take their decision-making in general to the entirely new level. So, arm yourself with a book “A Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo, read it and organize your clothes.
Engage your children
If your kids are under 3, you’ll be the boss of the project (yey!), but if your children are three or older, you should invite them to participate in reviewing their own possessions. After all, is it fair that you would be doing the “joy check” for the items you don’t even use? You’d be surprised how flattered they’ll feel at the idea of calling the shots about the possessions. Who has ever asked them to voice their opinion on that on such a grand scale?
The older they are, the more active part they can take. I’ll talk more about the best ways to engage them in my future posts. For now, just commit yourself to decluttering your kids room along with your children. My daughter was six and a half when we fully organized her room earlier this year. I started by telling her that I read a cool book on organizing and went through all my clothes leaving only those that spark joy for me and now, look how beautiful my closet is. She examined my closet and said she wants to do it too. I then told her that we could go through everything in her room over time and she will decide what to keep and I will honor every decision she makes.
She put me to the test right away. Can we get rid of the doll house? Oh, the doll house, the one I bought on Amazon for $115 just three months earlier and spent 3 hours putting together? The truth is she never asked me to buy it. It was my idea of being a good mother while she never played much with it. The doll house, however, took up precious space in the “cave”, her favorite hiding place where she likes to play. I never thought about it. She pointed it out. The doll house was taken out of the room that same day. It left our house shortly thereafter. Once she got her “ cave” back, she was fully on board with tidying up the rest of her room with me.
If you have more than one child
Ok, this point will be real short. If you have more than one child ages 3+, you should organize their possessions separately and invite them one by one to take part in reviewing their stuff. This is not a group activity. Deciding what sparks joy and gratefully parting with things that are no longer wanted, is an intimate, soul-searching process for both adults and kids.
Work with what you have
Don’t worry about your room layout, storage limitation or décor challenges you might have contemplated in the past. Work with what you have. Storage and decor upgrade will be the icing on the cake when you finish discarding. In fact, you’ll be compelled to redecorate the room in some ways after the clutter is gone. When we finished organizing my daughter’s room, we decided to paint an accent wall and buy an outrageously cute wall decal. The room sparked with joy inside out after all was finished.
Visualize the room you want
This is the last point I’d like to make for Part I of my series on Kids Room Organization. Before you start the project, think about the kind of room you want your child to have. If your children are older, discuss it with them. Think about what “feeling” words come to mind when you envision the ideal room for your kids: happy, energizing, relaxing, fun, cool? To get you started, check out my Pinterest board Kids Rooms. I’ve been compiling it for over 5 years now, and I am sure that at least some of 420+ design ideas I have there will inspire you in some way.
If you want to take it a step further, create a vision board. It can be a fun project for older kids. I like using a Vision Board app, which allows you to pull images from your phone as well as images you liked on Pinterest, Google+ or anywhere on the web. You can also overlay text, email and print your vision board. The full name of the app, if you decide to give it a try, is Jack Canfield Success Vision Bard by MogulWorx. And you can use it for any kind of vision board you want to create to achieve your goals.
Below is the vision board I made for my daughter’s room before we started the project. I incorporated words like Happy, Joyful + Restful, Creative, Organized, added images of my favorite Pinterest pins and incorporated photos of my daughter to make it more real and intentional. In the end, her room did reflect the spirit I captured in my vision board.
To be continued…