Spring-Cleaning with Kids – Spark Joy!

Got kids? Got clutter? The two go hand in hand. But if the idea of spring-cleaning with kids doesn’t spark joy for you, it might be time to consider what tidying expert and author Marie Kondo has to say on the subject.

Kondo believes that becoming more mindful about the physical objects in your life can help create order. Consciously organizing and choosing to keep things that “spark joy” — and getting rid of those that don’t — is a powerful tool for busy parents. Best of all, Kondo’s concepts can be used to help children learn lifelong skills for mindfulness, while creating and maintaining a more organized environment.

Using Kondo’s principles, here are some methods for cleaning with kids:

  • Clean Up by Category — Kondo advocates organizing and tidying by category of object rather than by room, which can “doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever.” Tidying by category gives the task a beginning, middle and end, with clear, tangible results. Kondo advises starting with clothes, then books (or toys), then other categories (such as papers) before ending with sentimental items (such as kids’ artwork or baby clothes). Decluttering by category has an added bonus for kids — sorting and ordering boosts early math and problem-solving skills.
  • Allow Kids to Make Decisions — Kondo believes that individuals are responsible for their choices about possessions, and that includes small individuals, too. If you are interested in deep-cleaning and true purging, do it when little ones aren’t around. If children are involved in tidying, Kondo advises that they make their own decisions about what they want to keep or throw away. Even if you don’t love that ancient shirt or stuffed animal, it may mean something to them. Allowing children choices in what they have can help them take responsibility for ownership — and organizing!
  • Find (or Give) Joy —A key element in Kondo’s philosophy is examining the relationship we have with the objects we own. She encourages asking yourself, “Does it spark joy?” If the answer is “no,” she advocates letting it go. Rather than simply throwing these items away, consider reselling or donating to charity (or others who would benefit from them). Asking kids to really consider whether something makes them happy — or not — cultivates mindfulness about consumption and ownership. To ease the transition when letting an object go, consider taking a picture of it or even “thanking” it for the good it has provided over time, such as the fun of a toy or warmth of a sweater. Determining that an object still does spark joy can help children develop deeper gratitude for what they have.
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