The KonMari Method that DOESN’T work with Kids

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I love KonMari.  Don’t get me wrong.

I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and felt all the feels, and said all the YES!

This was the “romance novel” that set my tidy heart on fire!

I went on a decluttering crusade and converted countless friends and family members to my KonMari ways.

But I’m sad to say, there is one aspect of the KonMari technique that just doesn’t work if you have kids.

The KonMari Method that DOESN’T work with Kids

In her book, there are several ideas that are brilliant such as:

  • Using on-hand items as storage containers.
  • Treating items with care as if they had feelings.
  • Discarding items that don’t “spark joy”.
  • Sorting all items of like-kind at one time.

These are the concepts that make KonMari groundbreaking and life-changing.

But I take issue with the laundry folding method!

If you haven’t read the book, Kondo suggests folding your clothes up into little packets that can stand on end, like books on a shelf.  These little packets are then filed into your dresser drawers so you can clearly see the sides of them and select from all your clothing.

I love this concept for my own clothes! I’ve never been happier with my dresser.  My little folded, not-bunched, socks are so peaceful looking.  All my t-shirts stand at attention ready to be selected.  It’s like visiting a high-end department store and selecting from all the items on display.

Commited as I was to the KonMari experiment, I overhauled every dresser in the house to fit this technique.  And we used the KonMari Method for a year.

Here’s what happened.

Clothes Didn’t Get Put Away

I’m a hands-off kind of mom.  I love my children and give my heart and soul to nurturing them, but I know I’m raising adults, and I want them to be capable, contributing members of this family now and the ones they build in the future.  So, I make them put their own clothes away.

Actually, they do the sorting and washing too.  I’m just the folder because it takes a level of skill my 6yr old doesn’t have yet.

Unfortunately, putting away KonMari style clothing packets like little books on a shelf is also a skill beyond my kids’ abilities.  They tried, but it’s just too much effort.

I could be a stickler about it and insist they learn, but I have more important things to teach them right now.  The tenets of the KonMari method are low on my priority scale.

I’d rather my kiddos get the clothes off the floor, out of the baskets, and into the drawers than insist that they create a perfect file system for their t-shirts.

Clothes Didn’t Stay Folded.

One thing I know for sure:  tiny socks need to be balled up with other tiny socks.  There is no delicate fold-over technique that will hold together socks that are only 4″ long!

You would think that Marie’s tight little packets would stay held together better than regular folding methods.  I think they probably do, but the problem is flopping.

See, the KonMari folding method takes up less space in a drawer. It’s one of the things that makes it genius for mama’s clothes!

But teeny clothes already take up less space.  My kids’ clothes didn’t fill the drawers.  We used boxes to try to keep them sorted and standing upright, but in the end, they were like books on a shelf with no bookends.  They flopped.  And this flopping meant they became un”filed” and unfolded.

We didn’t fold.

This was our BIGGEST problem with the KonMari technique.

First of all, the KonMari folding method takes about twice as long.  Marie says this gives you time to pass energy on to your clothing and thank them for serving you.  Ok.

With millions of tiny articles of clothing (I have 4 kids), doubling the folding time meant I spent hours folding clothes.

At first, I tried to look on the bright side.  As I folded, I watched my children playing outside my window and gave thanks to God for each of their precious lives and the precious bodies clothed by these items.  I really am a glass-half-full type person and loved the idea of thinking happy thoughts whilst folding.  But Mama’s got stuff to do.

On days when I had a lot to do, I’d pull the clothes from the dryer into a laundry basket, carry them to my room for folding “just as soon as I finish this other task.”

I have always had a rule that clothes be folded as soon as they come out of the dryer.  That’s when it’s easiest, when they are fluffy and warm.  If I don’t have time to fold them, I’ll leave them in the dryer so I can fluff them a bit before folding.

But the KonMari folding technique was such a hassle that I delayed it.  I never got around to it.  We needed our clothes washed and dried so I had to break the rule.  Baskets and baskets piled up. Kids were getting dressed by digging through the piles of clean laundry.

I blame Marie Kondo for the piles of unfolded laundry in my living room.  

Hey, it does give you a good scapegoat for Mt. Washmore on the couch, so there’s that!

On the other hand, there are a few things about the KonMari Clothing Method that you might like with your kids.

It allows your kids to see all their clothes and make decisions about what they will wear without digging through a pile.

This is also a skill worth developing.  I think you have to decide if they’re able to handle the putting away of the KonMari packets or if you’ll be the one to put the clothes away, this may make it easier for them.

Using bins to compartmentalize drawers is a great idea!

I had previously used drawer dividers like these but now I use these Skubb dividers from IKEA as well as… shoeboxes.  Yes, friends, the tiny boxes that kids’ shoes come in are perfect for keeping undwear, socks, and tights from fraternizing.

Gives kids fewer options.

Sorting, discarding, and displaying gives your kids fewer options when selecting their clothes.  And having fewer options increases their sense of competency in making decisions!  Woohoo!  Way to train the decision making skills, Mom!

So, if KonMari Doesn’t Work, what do I do instead?

A few different options that seem promising:

Folding clothes together in outfits.

Stacks of outfits helps the kids have more competency in picking out what they’ll wear, but still makes it easy to put them away.   In our case, the outfits didn’t stay together well, and it also increased my time in folding/sorting.  It may work well for you though!

Folding my traditional way with a twist.

Socks still get balled up.  Undies still get folded flat. Shirts and pants get the traditonal half-fold then double up…only I’ve found that folding in thirds or fourths means I can still put the clothes in the drawers in packets.  I don’t do this with pajamas or anything except shirts and pants.  This saves time in folding.  We are still working on increasing their skill at putting away and solving the issue with flopping.

Clearly I don’t have all the answers, yet.

I wanted to share my experience with you to save you the headache of folding a million tiny shirts and to ask you to share the solutions that work for your kids. How do you keep kids’ clothes organized in the dresser?

I’d love to hear from you the successful ways you manage your kids’ clothing!

Comment below or tell us in the Facebook Group. 

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I tried KonMari. 18 months later, I have to say, it doesn't entirely work with kids in the house. Take my advice and skip this part...

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  1. Velvet wrote:

    I loved this post! I thought it was funny how you ended up with piles of unfolded clothes in your living room! But, my gosh, you do have four kids and so I totally get you! I fold only t-shirts. Underwears just get piled on top of each other at the corner end of the drawer. I then lay socks in pairs side by side in one of those Ikea bendy type boxes w/o the lid, so they end up staying in place (think of an accordion type of pile), while pants get filed in a shelf on two piles. 🙂

    Posted 5.19.17 Reply
    • Christina wrote:

      Thank you, Velvet!!

      Posted 5.19.17 Reply
  2. Francesca Elizabeth Colbear wrote:

    There is a way to fold socks & pants so they don’t undo. I put sock heels together flat & fold the top down a bit & then tuck the toe ends into it & you have a perfect rectangle that will stand up & not undo when the kids take them out also pants/underwear you lay face down & fold in the sides one on top the other & then pull the crotch up & over & tuck into the front of the band & they stay in a square too but I admit my 3 yo looked rolled but he loves it as he can choose his character on the front now as he can see them! I fold outfits together so they are all matched with something & they have about 5-7 home outfits & all best hanging in outfits in wardrobe all home clothes are in a old bookcase & on top I have a basket each with underwear in which they grab & choose what they want. So far they love they way it’s organised & I’m hoping to teach them all but they are only 5, 4 , 3 & 6m atm. My only advice is if it’s too much it’s time to do a sort of what they have I have taken a load of stuff out there wardrobe that way too much (as I had loads more that what I mentioned above :/ ) & put back into their storage box so we can cope. Some of it I’ll end up donating but I wasn’t ready to yet & some will suit the next sibling more so will keep for them. Hope this helps a bit? Know it’s an old post xx

    Posted 1.21.19 Reply
    • Michelle Brigant wrote:

      I wish you could post a video of your folding techniques!

      Posted 3.21.19 Reply