Gently Getting The Family On Board




KonMari Insight Blog Series.

The most common  question I hear in our KonMari Facebook group is how to get the family to tidy.   ( Konmari Method: Life-Changing Magic  – Facebook page)

Look For Creative Ways To Get The Family Involved With Tidying.

Most of us live with other people: Our parents, our spouses, our children, or roommates. Our lives are fuller when  we have people to love in it.  Looking back on your vision, it was probably not a solo picture. Most of us, when we look at our best life, in it we include the hope of fulfilling relationships.

One of the challenges in making the decision to tidy our home, is that it is “our” personal decision to  do so. That choice, we find later on, doesn’t always mesh with the others that share our space.

What do we do? How do we get our loved ones on board? How do we make them see that a tidy home is the best way?

The answer is simple:  It may, or may not happen. You have to accept that.

Ouch! That’s not what you wanted to hear, right?  You probably thought there was a magic formula.  There really isn’t.  But, there are things you can do to draw others  in what you are doing and get glimpses of possibilities.  There are ways to make your home more manageable to live in, for everyone.

Do Your Own Belongings First.

You’ve heard that before, but it’s true. As you do your own things, you begin to change inside. You begin to understand why you have made the choices you have.  You begin to like yourself more. You begin to forgive yourself for decisions that didn’t work.  You get happier.  Once you get to that place, a lot of the angst that you felt about the amount of things other family members have, lessens or simply disappears. You made the choice to tidy because you were unhappy, or felt trapped, were embarrassed or a host of other reasons. These are your personal feelings.  In tidying, you learned to face those feelings and deal with them in better ways. This is why you purge your belongings first.

Not Everyone Feels the Same About Tidying.

Believe it or not, some people like their clutter.  They feel happy being surrounded by a lot of treasures. They aren’t stressed by their things. The thought of the possible loss of their belongings can be frightening. Think about your feelings on your sentimental items. It’s scary when you aren’t ready for that change and that’s okay.  You loved ones  have the right to feel that way, as well. Once you have that thought firmly in mind, you can take the next steps.

Never, Ever, Toss Out Someone Else’s Belongings.

It’s about trust; trust and respect for your spouse, family members, and roommates.  Don’t break the trust; it will do great damage to the relationship. You want to build and strengthen relationships, not break them. You may think that your husband’s office is just filled with junk, but for reasons you don’t yet know, those things are important to him. They are part of the person you love.  It’s worth it to discover the reasons and support the feelings behind that.

There is an exception to this rule: for very small children, who are unable to make their own choices, you have to do what makes sense.  In those circumstances, you do have to make call on what to purge.  But if a child is old enough to decide if their things spark joy, or at least if they love them a lot, it better if they choose for themselves..

Have A Family Meeting And Communicate, Often.

The purpose of the meeting is to talk about why you want to tidy.  You’ve probably already started doing at least some of your things.  Your family knows that something is up and they’re already curious, and maybe a little worried.  Now’s the time to talk about your feelings: why you feel the need to do this; what it means to you; and how you expect to feel better. Tell them about your vision, and why it’s important to you. Be open.  Focus on what you’re feeling for yourself and forget about any expectations you have for the people you are talking to.  Now isn’t the time.   If you have children, you will probably want to just have a meeting with your spouse first. See how they respond and what they say. If they see the main focus is on your personal things, and not theirs, they will most likely support the endeavor.  Then you can talk about the common areas and how tidying could offer benefits, such as  creating time available for activities together and less distractions. When you have a general plan in mind, have another meeting to include the kids. Listen to them and get their reactions and ideas. They will tell you, if they feel they will be heard.  You may even have more follow up meetings to brainstorm ideas.. This is a big deal and it will pay out in the long run to take your time now.

Compromise On The Common Areas.

Even though these areas may  have shared belongings, the common rooms can still be tidied up. These rooms are used by everyone, so they can be held to a different standard. They are more public so there is a need for them to be presentable, functional, and safe to navigate in. Get the family involved in a vision plan for these areas. Have them help to decide what works and doesn’t work in those rooms.  They will be much more involved and supportive of the process if  they have a say. Maybe move personal items to other locations, if the owner is not yet ready to purge. For areas such as the kitchen or laundry, the person (s) most responsible for the tasks, will likely  make the bulk of the purging choices. All, in all, keep the communication going.  Even if you don’t think they are paying attention, they are.

Keeping them organized, is it tidying, or parenting?

While you don’t want to purge some else’s belongings, it’s perfectly reasonable to set parameters to keep things picked up and contained.  As well, children of different ages need different guidelines according their abilities. Chores are a natural part of growing up. It’s a basic for learning how to live on your own and to be self-sufficient. Little ones can learn to  make a game out of putting toys away, older ones can take care of their rooms, then go on to more complex tasks.  Decide what the needs of your situation are, and don’t be afraid to set expectations.  Marie Kondo makes a point of reminding us that there is a difference between cleaning and tidying up. She says, ”Tidying is the act of confronting yourself; cleaning is the act of confronting nature.”  

Lastly, It Will Take Time

Like we mentioned earlier, some people truly enjoy their clutter. It gives them a feeling of completeness and they will feel threatened if forced to change. However, even  hardcore collectors can make changes when you least expect it. The key is creating a feeling of security. If you show your loved ones that you respect their choices and support them, and create that feeling of security in their environment, things can and will evolve. You can make your shared home livable for all.  Like anything worth having, you need  a little patience, flexibility, and understanding.

We hope this has given you some ideas on what you can do in your own home to engage your family in tidying. If nothing else, as tidy your own life, you will become more positive and at peace with yourself.  Those who share your life will  see that for themselves and respond.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s