The Konmari Method: Does it work for families?

Konmari method put to the test: Before and after

With daylight savings coming up, I know I’m not the only one itching to open up windows and start spring cleaning the house from top to bottom. So I decided to try out the popular Konmari method of organization from the book by Japanese sensation Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, if a little reluctantly as a parent.

All I can say is, this book has rocked my world. And soon will rock my entire house. However there are some aspects that parents should be aware of.

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If you haven’t seen people all over social media gushing about the Konmari method–just search #konmari–let me give you a brief overview: Marie Kondo’s method for organizing, or what she calls quaintly, “tidying up,” is nothing short of revolutionary if you’re like me and have waaaayyyy too much stuff. I could blame it on three kids, homeschooling, the dog, my husband, a big suburban house to fill, but it just boils down to: To

o Much Stuff we don’t use or need.

Instead of telling you how to organize, Kondo basically asks you to remove anything that does not “spark joy” in your home and leaves it to you.

The idea is that unwanted items are a drag on happiness in a home. So thank those unwanted objects for their former usefulness then say goodbye, releasing their energy in a positive way.


Konmari Method: Review of Marie Kondo's book, The life-changing magic of tidying up.


Beginning with clothing, she has you dump all your clothes into one giant pile, and then pick up each item and ask yourself, “does this spark joy?” That dress you forgot you bought and never wear because it is itchy? The socks that fall down when you walk but don’t seem old enough to toss? All those “maybe I’ll wear this someday. . .” clothes? You got it. Trash or donate.

Sound daunting? After just two hours, my closets have never looked better and the clothes I have left are ones I’ll actually wear. With joy.

And, yes, “spark joy” can sound sort of silly when going through a pile of underwear. But, it made sense when I held those lacy ones that look so much better than they feel, or those ugly briefs I still had “just in case.”

There is no joy in granny panties.


Konmari Method: How to purge and organize books

After clothing, her method has you tackle books, papers, miscellaneous items, and finally momentos, all with the same “thanks for your service, but you no longer give me joy” routine.

The biggest difference I’ve seen in the Konmari method versus other organizational methods is that, instead of cleaning room by room or by sections, you tackle entire categories of items all at once. And instead of buying more and more storage units, she doesn’t advocate buying a single thing, because she sees the need for organization as evidence of living with too much.

Now that said, that may be a great goal but it’s not entirely realistic for a lot of parents. I am a mom with a husband, pets, and three kids. Kondo’s book is mainly written from the point of view of a single woman living in a small Japanese apartment.

In other words, I’m giving you permission not to feel like a failure if you can’t follow the Konmari method by the letter.

Some of her rules, like keeping all similar items in one spot, just wouldn’t work for most of us realistically — sorry, but I’m not running down a flight of stairs to get a pen every time I need to write something down. And if you have a baby, you’re still going to want pacifiers in every room of the house.

Additionally, the book doesn’t cover items like toys or craft supplies, which give my children joy in a whole different way though certainly I can work towards paring them down. And she doesn’t describe organizing basements or garages or attics—trappings of many of us suburbanites.

I also admit I found myself getting a wee bit annoyed by her recommendation to spend a few quiet moments emptying out and thanking your pocketbook when you return home each day then giving your wallet a calm evening resting spot.

Clearly Kondo has never flown through the door at 6:30 PM to a toddler throwing a tantrum, or three children who are sooooo hungry for dinner but need to wait a little longer until you’re done thanking your purse.

Still, that that doesn’t mean I can’t apply her simple, smart, “does this spark joy?” question as I work to get rid of all the things I’ve accumulated. Whether it’s our many board games crowding a shelving unit, those heels I’ll never ever wear, or my massive collection of CD’s gathering dust in the basement, it turns out that letting those things go en masse has been rather freeing.

And what is left behind turns out to be more than enough to make my house a home I can love.

Grab a copy of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing in hardcover, paperback, or Kindle download from our Amazon affiliate. (Hey, Kindle books eliminate clutter!)

For more inspiring photos and tips from other readers, follow the #konmari tags on Twitter and Instagram too.