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10 Tips For Tidying Your Home With Kids

Learn how tidying up your home can help keep you organized, and teach your kids life skills. Professional organizer and former teacher shares her tips.

With the KonMarie method in full effect from the hit Netflix series, I’ve found tons of people all over social media sharing their tidying journey. And, I have to say that I absolutely love hearing that people are taking their space back by tidying up their homes.

If you are anything like me, you love keeping a tidy home. But when it comes to living with others, like kiddos, keeping things tidy can be tricky. Over the years, I have learned some tricks for keeping your home tidy that were confirmed throughout the entire first season of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix.

Organizing cart with markers, crayons, chalk, and pouches.

10 Tips For Tidying Your Home With Kids

Tidying Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint

When it comes to starting your tidying journey, you have to remember that it is a marathon not a sprint. Things won’t get done overnight. Make the commitment to get things organized, decluttered, and tidy. Then set aside time every day or weekend to tackle projects.

Need help getting started?? I have a free checklist you can get here!!

Everyone Needs To Be Involved

When it comes to tidying your entire home, the entire family needs to be involved. One person cannot determine what sparks joy for another individual. Now, I don’t believe everything in your home must spark joy, because some things are just functional items you need to survive…like toilet paper and kitchen gadgets. So if every family member participates, then you are able to only keep items that mean something to everyone. And it will make the the entire process move smoother.

If you have a reluctant participant, there are a few things you can do. The first is to express your feelings about having an untidy home. How your home is causing you stress or anxiety. Another is to ask for help because there are areas that you just can’t figure out how to declutter on your own. A third way to encourage a reluctant participant to join in the tidying is to just start throwing all their stuff away. Not in a vicious way, but more of a if you aren’t helping then I will tackle this on my own type of way.

Share The Chores

As your kids become more independent, it is so important that they help with household chores. Putting away laundry, cleaning up, clearing their plate from the table… whatever the chore, the kiddos’ need to help out. In one episode of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, a mother was the only person in her family who knew where things were. Once that burden was lifted, you could see the entire family dynamic changed.

This is true for most family’s I work with. The mother holds the burden of “keeping the house together”. Once we’ve set up systems, I encourage them to let their kids maintain the system. This helps with encouraging kids to take responsibility for their own items.

Start by teaching kids how to put away their own clothes. No, it won’t be perfect at first, so just let that go. But once they start to learn this life skill, they will be able to do laundry independently sooner than if you just did everything for them.

File-Folding May Not Work For Everyone

Marie Kondo insists that file-folding clothes is the way to stay tidy. I semi-disagree with that. Specifically for kids. I file-fold my clothes and my husband’s clothes. I do this for families who have limited closet space. But when you have ample room in your closet, try hanging almost all your clothes. Hanging clothes is much easier for young kids to do rather than folding everything. We fold pants, roll shorts, keep socks, underwear, and swim suits in drawers. Then everything else gets hung because it is easy for kids to maintain.

The goal with laundry is to get everyone in the family to put away their own. Plain and simple! So file-folding may not work in getting everyone to pitch in, but hanging everyone can do!

Tweak Based On Situation

In one episode, Marie Kondo changed up her method for a widower who wanted to tackle her husband’s clothes. I really appreciated her changing her tidying method because sometimes you just need closure. This is the same idea with working on kids’ things. Sometimes you just have to power through in order to feel like you accomplished something. That is so especially true for clothes your kids have outgrown.

My take-away was to create a pile of items that you loved for sentimental reasons, and to go through them at a later time. This brings me to my next tip for tidying…

Sentimental Items May Only Be Sentimental For A Short Time

Odds are that sentimental item really sparked joy because you saw it again after it being hidden for so long. You remember the feelings you had when you had that item of clothes/picture/trinket. But after you see that item, does it still spark joy??

I noticed in a few episodes that when the families or individuals were going through sentimental items, they created a pile of things that sparked joy. But that pile was much smaller when they showcased it later in the episode. This got me thinking to what I do with clients during in-home sessions. We typically weed out items that we no longer need. Then we go back through the items the client decided to keep and do one more run of the sentimental items. I do this because sometimes an item sparks a memory, which gets confused as “joy”. Then, when the item is revisited again, a real decision about what to keep and what to thank can be made.

This totally goes with baby clothes, baby blankets, and really anything that has to do with baby stuff! In the moment, that stuff is so important, but going back through, you can probably pull out a handful of items you actually want to keep. The rest just brought fond memories that can be loved by someone else.

Do You Want To Bring This Into Your Future?

Another tidying tip I absolutely love is the question Maria was asking in a few episodes. This was the question of “do you want to bring this into your future?” I think this question is really important when tidying random items you aren’t sure if you will need. Like craft supplies! Do you want to bring these craft supplies into your future?? Are you going to be crafting at that time?? I have found that the answer to some of those questions really helps clarify things for clients.

Respecting What Brings Joy To Others In Your Home

Tidying isn’t just about what brings you joy. It also includes all the other people who live in the house as well. One thing I noticed was how Marie taught the families how to showcase what everyone loved to make everyone feel like home. This is an amazing tidying tip for young children!! They might feel like every piece of artwork brings them joy. So teaching them to respect what brings other members of the family joy as well. This will help them realize that they don’t need to keep every scribble they created.

Start this process by asking the child if they are proud of this work. I have also asked young children what makes this piece of artwork so special. These questions really guide children to figure out if something is worth keeping. I wouldn’t recommend doing this as soon as they bring the artwork home. Wait a few days. Just like your own sentimental items, give your child some space to enjoy what they created before discussing if they want to keep it.

Less Is More When It Comes To Toys

I am a firm believer on less toys equals more joy. Mostly because the children can appreciate what they have, see everything, and can get more creative with the toys they currently have. Marie seemed to believe this same principle. The play rooms for a few of the families were left with minimal toys. The parents seemed more grateful for less stuff. And the kids appeared happy to play in their tidy play space.

My biggest tip for keeping toys tidy is to group them by type. Then only keep out between 6-8 types of toys. Put the rest in a storage location. I like to store the rest of the toys, grouped by category, in the same bins that are out in their play space. This makes swapping toy categories easy! You simply take a bin that is out in the play space and swap it for one in the storage location. Now it is like new toys for the kids to play with!

If you are unsure if a toy is truly loved, put it in your storage space. Set a reminder on your phone for 1 month. If, in that month, the child asks for that particular toy, you should keep it. If not, then donate toy. It is as simple as that! Sometimes out of sight out of mind helps determine which toys to keep and which to donate.

Allow Kids To Select Home For Items

There was one episode where the mother was having her kids put away items in their bathroom so they knew where things go. I truly believe that when tidying with kids, you need to give them control over placement of items. When we set up my daughter’s dresser, I had her select where all her clothing would go. None of it made sense, but I let her go with it. After about 2 weeks of having her pants in a top drawer, she told me she wanted help with changing it. We changed where things go that made more sense. She loved the placement of everything and never asked to change again. I truly believe she learned some basics on where to put items since having lived with things in a non-logical manner.

So let your kids decide on homes for items. Let them learn effective placement. And let them create ineffective placement. Teach them how to tidy up so they can take that skill into their future!

Kids dresser with folded clothes.

Lessons Learned

When it comes to tidying up with kids, remember it is a marathon, not a sprint. Every member of the family needs to be involved in the tidying sessions and take ownership of their belongings. Chores should be done by everyone in the household. Give young kids simple chores while older children can do more. Not everything needs to be file-folded. Sometimes hanging everything is easier to maintain. Tweak your systems as needed. Ask yourself if you want to bring this item into your future. This is a great question to ask when it comes to sentimental items. Because sometimes those sentimental items don’t always have as strong of a sentimental feeling once you remember the memory behind it. Respect what sparks joy to every member in your family. And teach them to respect items that spark joy to you. Less is more when it comes to toy organization. And allow your kids to find homes for items, as this is an important life skill they will need in their future.

Still want more tidying help?? Why not snag a copy of my Organizing Workbook!! It breaks down every area of the home to get organized. Complete with donation lists, checklists, tips, and more!!

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1 thought on “10 Tips For Tidying Your Home With Kids”

  1. Thanks for the advice! Having a clean house and children at the same time seems like an impossible mission to me. For every room I clean, my daughter finds a way to create a mess in another one. I will definitely try some of your organising tips though, they will definitely help me keep the mess contained. The best thing would be if I could get everyone in my house to clean after themselves, but this seems like a dream for now 🙂

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