KonMari and kids – does Japanese tidying work with children?

So last Friday I bought a book. And by last Saturday afternoon I had read said book cover to cover. I had swallowed it whole, only pausing to quote inspirational  passages to my bemused husband. When I had completed my read-athon, I looked around my living room, hugged the book to my chest and new my life was going to change FOREVER.

If you haven’t heard of Marie Kondo and her Life-Changing Magic Tidying I will briefly explain the concepts to you. You de-clutter your house according to categories (clothes, books etc.), you only keep the things you love and then you …er… never need to tidy up again.


If you are a regular reader of this blog then you will now that I love a good ole-fashioned clear-out. I appreciate there is more to life than tidying but sometimes it feels like I can spend an entire weekend putting things resentfully back in their rightful place.

There are several reasons why this book appeals to me:

  1. It is a simple theory and pretty easy to carry out*.
  2. Sometimes I feel like I am on a perpetual cycle of consuming, cluttering and clearing.
  3. By nature I am organised but I am also lazy.
  4. I am addicted to buying storage. One of the claims in this book is that because you’ll have no less stuff you won’t need loads of ways to store it. (Genius!)
  5. I love all things Japanese; their teeny tiny homes, their natural neatness, the way they can see beauty in the order of things.
  6. I want to experience an exhilaration I have never known before and gain confidence in my life. (As promised in page 145 of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying).

However, I like stuff, I don’t really want to live in a minimalist home with one book on the shelf and a vase of neatly arranged flowers. I  feel uncomfortable with the way Marie Kondo is so eager to ‘throw it away’. I don’t want to contribute to landfill sites with my uncontrollable ability to pass up a bargain and my need to surround myself with the detritus of my life.

Oh, and I also have two three-year old tornadoes hell-bent on scuppering my spick-and-span strategies. Bummer!IMG_0103

It is clear from this book that Marie Kondo lives alone in her ship-shape apartment. With no husband that seems to shed receipts as soon as he enters the house and certainly no children with their bi-jillions of toys, not to mention underwear, artwork and other accoutrements littering the lounge floor.

She is also quite clear that you can not de-clutter other people’s stuff. Kids surely are exempt from this? Three year olds are not the greatest at clearing up after themselves or known for their love of tidiness. (As I type this the tornadoes are hurling cushions from the sofa and spilling juice on the rug – simultaneously!)

The book doesn’t really have any rules on how to deal with children’s stuff. Kondo does briefly touch on visiting a client with a three-year old daughter whose things were stored in three different places (?), then she goes a bit vague and ends by saying “Even a three-year old can tidy!” Hmmm.

Still, I felt I could write my own rules and armed with the prerequisite bin bags I entered the playroom full of optimism (I was about to experience an exhilaration I had never known before). I should state that at this point I had sorted my clothes, books, the paperwork,  and my craft/sewing stuff, so I was feeling pretty high! Using the rules I had kinda gleaned from the very short passage on children I got to work.

This is how I tackled it:

  1. I forgot about storage solutions. Kondo is very strict about de-cluttering first and then thinking about storage.
  2. I thought about what my children played with and how they played with them.
  3. I sectioned the playroom: Games and jigsaws, Fred’s stuff, Martha’s stuff, art table, cooker and toy food.
  4. I only threw away (car booted) things that I was certain they would never play with again, or were broken, or had never been played with in the first place.
  5. I did not touch everything and decide if it bought me joy – which is one of the founding principles of KonMari.
  6. I did it surreptiously and did not enlist the children’s help.


  1. IMG_0003

The amount of toys (post-Christmas and birthdays) my children had was overwhelming. They have their favourite toys that come out agin and again. I think by whittling down what they own they can see more clearly what they have.

Zoning the room really helped. I didn’t have to buy any more storage and it’s so much faster to tidy.

I would recommend the KonMari technique in a heart beat. My house as a whole is much lighter and feels far less shambolic. I’m not saying it’s not messy (it always is!) but I can see order in the chaos. And I know that because tidying up at the end of the day takes far less time, I’ll be sitting with my feet up, watching Murder She Wrote and sipping a glass of Sauvignon all the sooner.

And that my friend is exhilarating!


  • Actually KonMari-ing your house with pre-schoolers present is nigh-on impossible, but that is a whole other story.
My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows
A Cornish Mum

19 thoughts on “KonMari and kids – does Japanese tidying work with children?

  1. Hi! I really like this sort of technique. My son’s playroom is due for a clear out and I follow a lot of those principles. My son and husband are hoarders and I’m the total opposite! I get rid of anything that is broken, put away any toys that aren’t age appropriate and I also try to keep everything in boxes with pictures on them so my son knows where everything goes. I tried the toy rotation technique but found quickly I couldn’t keep up with it. Some great ideas here!! fartglitter

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read this book last year when my son was 6 months old and felt immensely relieved to get rid of about a third of all our belongings in the lead up to an intercity relocation. These days it’s a bit harder to stay organised now that’s he a toddler, although I’d really like to have another go at this. Interesting to hear your approach to tidying up kids’ stuff, I’ll remember these tips 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Some good tips here – thanks! I hate an overly cluttered house and am forever tidying away. I think this has spurred me on to do some decluttering over half term 🙂 #PicknMix

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the concept of this, though I’m not sure how good I’d be at it in practice! We’ve been on a big declutter this week but it just seems like stuff expands into the space, so it doesn’t feel like there’s any more space. I’ll have to give it another go! x #picknmix

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a really great idea! I hate clutter but it just seems to happen every few months. A big clean out is refreshing – for while it lasts! #picknmix

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love this so much. I saw a video of her and she seems a little like a robot and freaked me out a bit. But I am still tempted to buy the book – anything to help our mountains of stuff! You sound like kindred spirit so if it works for you, maybe it could work for me! xx #coolmumclub

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ahh, I found Marie Kondo’s book hilarious – love the basic principles, but there’s no way I’m stroking my jumpers to thank them for their service. Great tips with keeping kids rooms tidy though – I’m a little way off that yet as our future nursery room is currently a dumping ground so need to go through with adult-KonMarie method first. Wish me luck! #coolmumclub

    Liked by 1 person

  8. See I have one major problem with this book….I struggle to have time to tidy at the moment….therefore I have no time to read the book…and if I read instead of tidying and decluttering I guess I’d be defeating the object 😉

    Thanks for linking up to #PicknMix

    Stevie x

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Laughing at Stevies comment as I’m the same, I don’t have time to tidy or read at the moment. We are due to move house in just under a month which I find is a great time to be ruthless on having a clear out. I might have a look at the book before setting up in the new place. Thanks for linking to #PickNMix

    Liked by 1 person

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