What I like the most about Kon Mari home organization method is that you can indulge yourself by keeping only those items that spark joy and downsize at the same time. Isn’t that a winner formula?
I hope that ideas and examples I shared in Kids Room Organization: Part I have inspired you and mentally prepared you for organizing your child’s room in an entirely new way. If so, let’s talk organizing.
Follow The Right Order
A critical rule of the Kon Mari method is organizing things in the right order starting with easier categories and proceeding to harder ones as you hone your “check for joy” skill. Here is the right order:
Clothes > Books > Papers > Komono (toys + misc.) > Sentimental
Even if toys scattered on the floor annoy you more than the contents of your child’s closet, start with the clothes first. I dedicated this entire post exclusively to organizing clothes because if you succeed with this first category, you’ll be on a roll to finish organizing the rest of the room in no time.
Before you start
Try not to listen to music if you can. Work in a quiet room and bring your awareness to the task at hand. Evaluating for joy requires you to connect with each item you are taking in your hands.
Tell your children that you will be inviting them one by one at some point to make decisions about clothes together. You don’t need them for the entire session. Let’s aim for a short but meaningful engagement.
The Set Up
Take a deep breath and remove all your child’s clothes from the closet placing it on a bed in a big pile. If your child’s clothes are stored in other rooms (think hand-me-downs, Halloween costumes, out-of-season), retrieve them from storage and add to the pile. Remove clothes from hangers and set all hangers aside — later in the process you’ll be able to judge if you have enough and if they are the right kind.
The purpose of this set up exercise is to visualize the volume of clothes your child owns. Take a Before photo. It will be fun to look at later.
I personally find that emptying the closet completely is a very powerful moment. If you store toys or other non-clothes items in your child’s closet, I recommend removing them as well and setting them aside for now.
Take a moment to clean your empty closet. Use a damp cloth with a little bit of vinegar to freshen up the floor and shelves and eliminate any odors that might linger in the corners. Let in some fresh air into your empty closet while you are reviewing the clothes assembled on the bed.
Does It Spark JOY?
Now, pick up each clothes, one by one, and ask yourself if it sparks joy. Imagine your child wearing it – does it spark joy seeing your son running around in this pair of jeans? Does it spark joy seeing your daughter swirling in this dress? And more importantly, does your child love wearing this item? You can answer that if you go back to those moments when you proposed wearing something to your child. Did he gladly accept? Did she make a face and said “not this one”? Let those be your cues. You know your child best.
On a practical side, check for size, tear and wear. Stained, washed out, or tight clothes can not possibly bring joy. Likewise, you might be staring at a perfectly new (and possible expensive) shirt but realize that your child will almost certainly never wear it because he just won’t. Please know that this shirt has had enough. At this point, it’s practicaly begging you to set it free.
Clothes that no longer spark joy have completed their mission in your child’s life. Thank each item for its hard work or the styling lesson it taught you, pat it gently and set it aside for donation. Thanking your possessions allows you to remove the feeling of guilt from decision-making process and have a sense of closure by expressing your appreciation.
Worn-out items that reached the end of their life cycle should not be donated. They will be much happier if you bring them for textile recycling. Lean more about this wonderful eco friendly option at GrowNYC.Org/clothing. For unwanted items in good condition, consider Salvation Army. As best-practice, try to get discarded clothes out of your house as quickly as you can.
Organize Into Categories
Marie Kondo, the author of the Kon Mari method, recommends storing clothes in the company of like clothes because jeans want to hang out with jeans, and dresses want to hang next to other dresses. Makes sense, right?
As you continue making your selections using “does it spark joy?” criteria, start grouping clothes by category: pants, skirts, short sleeve tops, long sleeve tops, dresses, underwear, etc.
When the time comes to move clothes back to the closet, keep them organized there by the same categories.
By now, you should start seeing which categories in your child’s wardrobe are bigger or smaller and what you actually need to buy. Start a shopping list. Your next shopping event will be laser-sharp in focus.
“Joy Check” with Children
Now that your child’s clothes has been reviewed, downsized and categorized by you (selected clothes are still on the bed at this point), invite your child for a mini “spark joy” session. Show her what you did and ask her to look at some items you could not decide on like that fancy dress she never wants to wear. If she confirms she wants to part with it, thank it for the thrill it gave you when you were buying it and part with it. Ask your child to try any clothes that need to be checked for size or fit.
Use this opportunity to ask questions like “what do you like so much about this t-shirt?” or “I noticed you don’t like wearing skirts, can you tell me why?”
In general, start discussing style with your children when they are choosing clothes they want to wear. Tune in on which styles they like and adjust what you buy for them accordingly. While your influence on their style at this age is huge, their personal style is already forming and we, as parents, should support and encourage them on this exciting journey, boys and girls alike.
After your child gave you her input on clothes, let her go and continue with your project.
Fold, Baby, fold!
Folding is your salvation and meditation in one.
If there is one thing that’s central to Kon Mari method that’s folding. The approach is to fold as many clothes as you can versus hanging them. T-shirts, most tops, jeans, pants, sweaters, and underwear are all perfect candidates for folding. Clothes folded Kon Mari style and stored upright, saves you a tone of space. Needless to say, don’t force folding on dresses, jackets and tailored pieces like nice wool coats. Those garments will protest anyway.
The trick is to fold each piece of clothes into a rectangle first and then fold it twice or three times until it can stand on its edge like a spine of the book. Take a look at the two photos below. The left one shows folded clothes stacked one on top of another like you might see on display at the store. The right one shows clothes folded Kon Mari style and stored upright with the spines facing up. Notice how much easier it is to see all clothes at a glance in the right photo and retrieve an item without disturbing its neighbors.
Folding itself is extremely soothing and therapeutic. It also allows you to check each garment after laundry for stains and tear and wear.
Click on the video tile below to see Marie Kondo demonstrate the basic Kon Mari folding method. Notice how much positive energy she imparts to the clothes she is folding.
And here’s more Kon Mari folding demonstrated by a mom, who worked in retail for many years and has adopted Kon Mari style folding after reading the book. She offers some great tips at the end, so watch the entire episode.
Watch: More demonstration of Kon Mari folding
Putting It Alltogether
Now it’s time for the clothes you decided to keep to go back into the closet.
As a general rule, try to store all of your child’s clothes in one closet in their room and minimize the amount of clothes for off-season storage. In her book, Marie states that swapping seasonal clothes twice a year is an annoying chore for most people and that when we are late to it, we often end up buying new clothes only to discover later that we already have similar styles in our wardrobe. Based on this, aim for keeping 75% of your child’s clothes easily accessible throughout the year and only store away the outliers – winter coats, hats and scarfs, swimwear, beachwear, etc.
Examine your closet options. Can you lower a rod, so your child can pick her clothes by herself in the morning? Can you store underwear, socks and pajamas in the bottom shelf or drawer, so he can dress himself after the shower or in the morning? Ask your closet how it wants to accept the clothes back. What is the best place for each category you identified?
Keep in mind, that if you have shelves, you’ll need to place your folded clothes into boxes first. Shoe boxes will work well for now. You can upgrade them to something nicer later. If you have drawers, you have the advantage, so if you decide to upgrade your closet storage, do invest in drawers versus shelves.
Finally, Kon Mari method teaches to organize clothes within each category, whether folded or hanged, in such a way that heavier fabrics and darker colors start on the left and get lighter to the right creating an eye-pleasing and spirit-uplifting swoosh. This tactic is demonstrated in the picture below.
The Grand Unveiling
When all is done, walk your child through the re-organized closet showing her where everything is. If you’ve been taking a lead in selecting outfits for your child each day, encourage them do it by themselves. Continue conversations about your child’s likes and dislikes when it comes to clothes and become more mindful of her preferences when you do shopping for her.
Next time you do laundry, show her how to fold and do some folding together. During your daily routines, as soon as you see that a certain piece of clothes no longer fits or never sparks any joy for your child, let it go without waiting for the next “performance review”.
If there is a good focal point in your closet and the wall is not blocked by clothes or containers, tape your child’s favorite artwork or a photo you both love. Brainstorm other ideas on how to decorate their closet. This is bound to add a serious spark of joy.
Take the After picture. Don’t be shy, share the Before and After with family and friends. You can be proud of what you have accomplished. Congrats!
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