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Can You ‘Marie Kondo’ Your Child?

Decluttering guru – and current darling of Netflix – Marie Kondo asks the family she’s been drafted in from Japan to help, drowning in a lifetime of accumulated possessions, whether each item they own ‘sparks joy?’.

If not, her minimalist doctrine dictates they should rid themselves of that possession.

She taps into a trend that goes beyond materialism. In decluttering their lives, the typical middle-class American family in question undergoes a journey of self-discovery – finally able to spot their familial flaws now they’re rid of the SodaStream from the kitchen corner cupboard.

I’m sure it’s no coincidence that invariably the struggling family in question have young children at their feet, peering around a parent’s legs as the immaculately presented Marie, and her translator, arrive at their suburban home.

The process of moving in with someone, combining two lives – and two lots of possessions – is a process to leave Marie Kondo with itchy fingers. That’s before you introduce children.

As I survey my Living Room after a day of my daughter laying waste to it, I often struggle to spot any joy. Probably more importantly, I also wonder how many of the items covering every inch of the carpet genuinely bring her joy?

Some, without question, do: – The Xylophone is a big winner. On the cusp of walking, the Early Learning Centre walker is too. The chiffon scarfs have been a favourite since day one and remain so.

Some items are loved for a season. A large tinfoil blanket, the sort given to red-faced marathon runners at the finish line, was de jour for a couple of months, now only reminding us of its existence with a scrunchy metallic sound every time we open the draw it now resides in.

Some items have never been loved or sparked joy. Hoping preferences change and unwilling to accept its destiny probably lies in a landfill site, they’re kept, forever hopeful they’ll be picked next time – like the Claw Machine scene from Toy Story.

So, to bring this back to Marie Kondo, if I was pressed to identify the one item, among the dozens currently strewn across the floor that genuinely sparks joy in my daughter, I’d go for the £2.99 door wedge that props open the door between our Kitchen and Living Room.

Many hours have been whittled away smashing the wedge onto the wooden floor, enjoying the resulting bang.

Steve Biddulph, in his book Raising Girls, suggests you should buy relatively simple toys, that allow their imaginations to fill in the gaps rather than doing all the hard work for them with bright lights and sound – my sister, a Primary School teacher, calls these toys ‘visual smack’.

Interestingly, Bidduplh also suggests you should avoid toys that imply to a girl that looks and clothes are what matter.

In this blog post, I suggested you don’t need to overspend on baby stuff. A few months on, I haven’t revised my opinion. They will focus on a few items that spark joy for them. 

One of those items might be a door wedge.

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