Have you watched it yet? Like so many, I’ve been enjoying the Marie Kondo Netflix series on Tidying Up. I never read the book, but the show about families who desperately need help getting organized in their homes has been inspiring and instructive. My 13 year old daughter has been watching it too and she recently commented that it surprised her how the people featured on the show seemed unable to manage their homes before meeting and being trained by Marie Kondo. It was one of those revelations kids have when they see that not everyone has had the same experiences in life that they have.
Since my kids were little, they have been doing chores. I made managing our home a team effort, delegating age appropriate tasks to the children over the years. It was my way of surviving with 5 children but it had so many benefits that I could not have imagined. They learned simple tasks like making their bed, dusting, vacuuming, wiping down the bathroom counter, cleaning windows (the Windex spray bottle was always fun!) and picking up their toys. We mostly tidied up together and I would throw the windows open to the fresh air and play music to make it joyful and fun.
Every once in a while we would tackle bigger tasks together. I taught them how to clean out their drawers, passing down clothes they had outgrown to the next child or putting them into the “grow into” box in the garage. Whenever they asked for new clothes, I asked them to first go check their drawers to see if they REALLY did need more.
About once a year, we would all empty the garage onto the driveway and take an afternoon to purge the excess then organize it again into a functional storage space.
When we clean out a really full space, we start by emptying it of everything that will need to be addressed. If it’s not a shelving unit or a large item that is staying for sure, it comes out. It’s so much easier to make decisions as you put things back in the space than to stand in the middle of a mess and wonder where to start.
Doesn’t this look like a Marie Kondo inspired effort? These guys have done this over and over again throughout their childhood - about 3 Saturday mornings a year some big household task is tackled whether is gardening, cleaning the garage, or decluttering their bedrooms. We do it together because we all live here.
Now, don’t misunderstand me - our efforts never approach Martha Stewart perfection and I’m not as good at cleaning as I am at tidying up, but those team efforts at simplifying our home and giving away what we did not need created some helpful habits in my children which will serve them in the long run.
What’s your situation with clutter and household organization? Do your kids have experience cleaning out a drawer or a garage? Have they learned Marie Kondo’s method of asking if an item “sparks joy” for them or not? Do they know that they can thank an item for being part of their life before letting it go? (I love that one!)
I found this video a few days ago and it made me smile. It’s not exactly the same method Marie teaches, but it’s another good way of deciding what to keep and what to let go. Ask of each item, “Is it useful? Is it beautiful? Do I love it?” If the answer is “No” to all three, let it go.
You can make up your own questions to help yourself or your children sort through and make decisions about what they will keep. A friend of mine posted on Instagram about having her boys ask of their toys, “Is it boring?” That question was more helpful and understandable to them than “Does it spark joy?”
I’m grateful that I needed to find help within my own household. If I had been granted my wish of being able to hire a cleaning crew or gardener regularly my children would have missed the opportunity to learn a life skill. The blessing was in the midst of the challenge.
Several years ago I created a strategy I call “The 22 Skidoo.” It’s our way of doing a quick bit of tidying. If your kids are just learning to pick up the house, try this simple, short exercise. Whenever the house is cluttered, announce, “It’s time for a 22 Skidoo, everyone!” Each person - the young and the old - must pick up 22 items and put them away where they belong. It’s amazing what a quick team effort can accomplish!
I’d love to know what you do in your home to tidy up. Have you taught your children some of these skills?