Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

You won’t die if your house isn’t tidy, and there are many people in the world who really don’t care if they can’t put their house in order. Such people, however, would never pick up this book.


I enjoyed this book very much. Essentially, Kondo’s advice boils down to:

  1. Assemble every object you own in a category (e.g. clothing and subcategorize into shirts, pants, etc.)
  2. Handle each object and only keep it if it “sparks joy”

Only after your possessions have been thinned out do you start to think about storage. For Kondo, the key to storage is to not have very many possessions in the first place. But she also had some great tips that I implemented. For example, she suggests that whenever possible, clothing that should be stored in drawers as it takes up less space that way. She also suggests folding clothes into rectangles that you can stand on end and arrange horizontally in the drawer.

This is a sideways view of my drawer with clothing stacked horizontally instead of vertically. It does make it much easier to find what you are looking for.

I wish that Kondo had included a specific chapter about children’s things in this book, because I find that it is a big struggle for me to know what to keep and what to discard. She does have a section about family members and suggests that you never discard other people’s possessions without them knowing and that if they see you tidying and discarding your own possessions it will inspire them to do the same.

The problem with small children is that they don’t tidy and they receive a lot of possessions for Christmases, birthdays, and even “just because” grandma is coming for a visit or saw something cute. We are also storing a lot of things that RJ has outgrown because we think we will have another baby at some point and wouldn’t want to re-buy all the baby things (e.g. we have two vibrating chairs, a swing, and a bassinet that we are storing along with two and a half huge boxes of clothing in sizes 0-12 months).

We are lucky to live in a large enough house that it can still feel spacious with all the junk we keep. The space isn’t really the issue, what appeals to me about discarding and tidying is the idea that I could be surrounded by items that “spark joy” instead of having to wade through closets and cupboards full of junk to find the item i’m actually looking for at any given time.

So I wonder if the criteria for “sparking joy” applies to my relationship with RJ’s toys as well? To some extent I know whether an item sparks joy in her or not, however, she often loses interest in a toy and regains it later. That being said, her favourite toys tend not to be toys anyway, so just how many toys should I be keeping around the house?

How do you make decisions about how many possessions you need to keep in your home for yourself and your children? Please leave a comment.




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