Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tidying Up My Two-Year Old's Books, Toys, and Closet Using the KonMari Method

Life Changing Magic
Two years ago I read the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which is written by Japanese organization specialist Marie Kondo (named one of the top 100 most influential people by Time Magazine). At that time I began going through some of her steps, but wasn't sure how to apply it to a family life (not just my personal belongings). I recently discovered a whole series of youTube videos where the author helps someone to "tidy up" their home. Watching an episode where she assisted a family answered some of my lingering questions and gave me the enthusiasm to try again.
Before organizing your belongings, it is important to go through them to make sure everything you have really "sparks joy." Unlike most other advice on decluttering, she encourages you to declutter by category, not room. She also encourages you to go through the decluttering in the following order:
  1. Clothing
  2. Books
  3. Papers (for him: vital documents)
  4. Miscellaneous (in this case: toys)
  5. Sentimental (photos, cards, baby clothes, etc.)
Clothes and Baby Clothes (Steps 1 and 5)
One day in late summer or early fall, my husband and I were in the garage and impulsively went through the enormous tote of baby things, keeping only what we really loved, and letting go of everything else. I created a capsule wardrobe for my toddler for the fall and winter months. So, while there is room for going through Q's clothing again, I decided to jump in with step 2.

Books (Step 2)

I expected to focus on the category of books for about a week, as I was doing all the books in the entire house. It helped that I allowed myself to focus on subcategories: baby/toddler books, kids' books, cook books, etc. What most amazed me as I went through the week was how many odd places I kept finding books in. Of course there was the board book shelf. There were also a couple strays in the van, in the entryway, under a pile of papers, in his church bag, in a shoebox in the top of the closet, etc. The most important reason I didn't rush this category was because it took me a while to realize where all the books were.
A year ago, the only books suitable for Little Q were board books. Now he is 25 months olds. Some of the board books have become dreary or thrashed. Most of them he enjoys on a now-and-then basis, like seeing an old playmate. He has also begun taking interest in some picture books. Yet there are any number of books in our house that are so long and complicated that I don't need to read them to him until he is at least three or four. So my book sorting went like this:
  • Board books we still enjoy
  • Picture books he can enjoy this year
  • Picture and story books I am happy to look forward to reading with him in a year or two
  • Dr. Seuss (yes, it's own category. My husband grew up on Dr. Seuss's books and considers them an indispensable part of childhood. He would replace any I let go of)
  • Thrift store
  • Recycle or trash (yes, we had a few books not even the poor would want)
I have decided not to store any of the "future reading" books in Q's closet or on his bookshelf. Picture books he might enjoy a year or two from now (but not yet) will be stored elsewhere.
Looking at the board books and picture books he can enjoy this year has definitely been a source of joy for me today. I decided to store some of them on the shelf beside the love seat in my bedroom, which is where I like to sit when I read to him, and the rest will be stored on a shelf in his little closet as a personal library. Since the books would fall through the wire shelving on their own, I put them in a plastic bin. I chose to stand them up, which makes it easier for me to see and select individual books.

Vital Documents (Step 3)
The only papers Q has right now that I consider worth keeping are the papers that prove he's alive, an American citizen, and one copy of his most up-to-date vaccination record. These are kept with the family's filing system, but sorting through that is another post. I'll go double-check his file when I go through the family's papers again. This is one of the steps that I did thoroughly two years ago.

Toys (Step 4, Miscellanous)
We moved into this townhouse while I was pregnant with Little Q. His older sister's bedroom had one closet of fairly standard size, and another that was very small, but had floor-to-ceiling shelves. She got the bigger closet, of course. In the smaller one I placed the preschool supplies leftover from older siblings, a heavy stack of picture books, remnants of my childhood dollhouse, several things of toys, and bags of baby clothes sorted by size.
Before I even started sorting Q's toys, I pulled everything out of his closet for the first time in his life. As I didn't wait for naptime, there was a bit of merry chaos involved. I resolved to put back in the closet only those things that sparked joy for Q as a two year old, including:
  • Playmobile 123 vehicles
  • A fabric road map, folded up
  • Duplo block vehicles and trains
  • A box of dinosaurs
  • A box of puppets

Outside of the closet, there was a pile for the thrift store, a box of summer clothes he will grow into, and a small pile of preschool toys and supplies. We've already dropped off the thrift store pile. By the time I'm done doing KonMari with the rest of the house, I hope to have found the "right" place to store his spring wardrobe and preschool supplies.

I finished "tidying" Q's things last week. His teddy bear goes in his crib, his lightning bug flashlight on his little dresser, and his clothes in the dresser. Aside from that, the only toy we are currently keeping out is the train. He enjoys playing with that the most often, so we set up the track where it won't be under foot and left it out. We've changed the track several times in the last week. When he wants to play with anything else, we get one bin out of his closet. When he's done with it we put it away. If he wants a different toy down, we first put away that toy.
I'm hoping I can be self-disciplined enough to keep it this way. He has already gotten used to the new system.

No comments:

Post a Comment