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Tidying Up Tips for Parents: Lessons Learned from Marie Kondo

tidying up tips

I’m a busy mom; I understand just how tough it can be to maintain a clean, organized home. A great lesson for parents — or just life in general — is to continue learning wherever you can. That’s why I felt revitalized when I read the book (and then saw the Netflix original series) The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Do you want to say goodbye to mornings spent ransacking closets in a hasty search for shoes or coats? Would you like to avoid upending dresser drawers and just enjoy your living space in peace? If you want your home to be your sanctuary, then efficiency is key. 

Everyone has their role to play. Children as young as 18 months can and should be responsible for cleaning their own space. Parents will need to help them organize and find designated areas for their belongings. The whole family is responsible for the house, so make it a family affair and clean together! Designate jobs according to ability — and don’t underestimate your kids! Children will surprise you with what they are capable of and are often eager to jump in given the opportunity. 

These are the key takeaways for busy parents who want to learn from master organizer Marie Kondo.

Tip #1 — Go in Order

Rather than going room by room, Kondo says you’ll be more successful if you approach your clutter by type. Go category by category, starting with clothing, then books, miscellaneous stuff, papers, and ending with sentimental items. You can make exceptions or subcategories if needed, and busy parents may need to approach it in even smaller chunks. 

Tip #2 — The Pile

The KonMari method from Tidying Up recommends approaching every category by putting everything into a big pile to take stock of what you have.  This helps you realize what you actually need, what you don’t wear, and what you should get rid of. Unless you’re Mr. Rogers, you probably don’t need five sweaters that look the same. 

Tip #3 — The Happy Test

When you pick up each item, does it spark joy? If not, perhaps you don’t need it. Lead by example with your own stuff, and then you can help your children do the same. Of course, young children might love every single toy in their stash, so in reality you may have to do some of the decluttering when they aren’t there to see. However, the experience of letting things go is a valuable learning tool, so pick your battles. Remind them that it might no longer bring them joy, but it might bring someone else joy.

Tip #4 — Give Everything a Home

KonMari emphasizes the importance of having a designated place for everything that you keep. From towels to tools to children’s toys, everything should be given a specific place so it can be put away when not in use. This is a good strategy for teaching your children to clean up after themselves and be more responsible for the items they own.

Tip #5 — Go Vertical

Most of your drawers, shelves, and cupboards have a huge amount of unused vertical space. Stand things up to take advantage of the real estate and to make the contents more visible. For clothing that is not hung up, Kondo recommends folding items into thirds and standing them up next to each other so that you don’t have to dig around looking for things. 

Tip #6 — Tiny Boxes

The key to the Kondo method is micro organization. Think of how perfect your utensil organizer is for its purpose and its space; you don’t just dump all the spoons and forks into the drawer, do you? What if every drawer, closet, toybox, and shelf was just as organized? With tiny boxes, they can be! Dressers, desk drawers, and nightstands need not be cluttered!

Tip #7 — Organize by Size

In situations when you can’t stand things up, organize by size. When kids look in a closet or drawer, it’s easier to see and makes it simpler to put things back. One of the biggest obstacles to staying tidied up is keeping everything that way when you’re done.

Tidying Up Resources for Parents

While it might be tempting to just bag up everything that didn’t make the cut and put it to the curb, that method can be wasteful. Use the opportunity to help others and teach your children valuable life lessons. Below are a few resources for Mt. Pleasant parents to sell, donate, reuse, or recycle their excess stuff. 


Decluttr will pay by the pound for LEGO bricks. Don’t throw out that old tech, either! They’ll take things like cell phones, tablets, CDs, DVDs, and more. They’ll give you an instant quote online and pay for shipping via UPS. 

Uptown Cheapskate Mt Pleasant

If you or your young adults just have too much style, Uptown Cheapskate is a great option for selling trendy clothes, shoes, and accessories. 

East Cooper Community Outreach

Every month ECCO serves more than 400 low-income families in our community who otherwise might not have access to food or clothing. They are always in need of cash and food donations, and have need of blankets, bedding, towels, shoes, and more. 


Don’t let your well-loved furniture go to waste in a landfill. Donate it to ReStore to help build furnish homes in the community. Since the logistics of moving furniture is always the toughest part, Restore will even schedule a pickup to make it easy peasy, lemon squeezy. 

Angels & Rascals

Angels and Rascals is a great place to sell children and infant clothing. They have intermittent needs for toys and baby equipment. Check their site to see their current needs and requirements for items. 


~Cullan Pagenkopf