Home Articles Sparking joy: The challenges of Marie Kondo-ing a family home

Sparking joy: The challenges of Marie Kondo-ing a family home

In my aspirational home, everything I own has a place … and everything sparks joy.

Yes, I have binge-watched “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” on Netflix, where the Japanese organizing guru instructs Americans to start by getting rid of anything that fails to “spark joy.”

Kondo has shown me that my dreams can become reality, though I still have one major hurdle to tidy bliss: an 8-year-old with hoarding tendencies. Cut from the same cloth as his paternal grandma, he loves “old things” and tchotchkes. He can form an intense sentimental bond in mere moments.

We went through his clothing Kondo-style and found that … everything sparks joy — even the free fun-run T-shirt he’s never worn: “I love that! It reminds me of my old school!” When he saw his too-small Pigpen T-shirt in the giveaway pile, he balked and got somewhat teary: “I love it! It reminds me of my childhood!” he sniffed earnestly.

While we kept the aforementioned items, he did finally agree to let go of some too-short pants and too-tight shirts and jackets. Some of his things will go to his younger friends, but no one we know has a suit fetish like my son did at age 5. And what about the Halloween costumes? All the stained T-shirts or ripped pants?

Here’s a guide for what to donate and consign:


Anything: The Salvation Army or Goodwill takes clothes and shoes, even those with stains and holes.

Books: Donate them to your local library branch.

Gently used items: Donating to places that need kids clothes and toys is a great way to spark joy for others and get a cleaner house at the same time. Consider donating gently worn kids toys, books and clothes to a nonprofit organization:

Toys and trinkets: Little toys that invariably accumulate around the house can be repurposed at local elementary schools, which typically have toy or reward boxes that need to be stocked.


Children’s resale shops: Kids resale boutiques are thriving in the Valley, and are great places to take things like children’s bikes, playhouses, special-occasion dresses and clothes that are in good shape — plus books and more. When they sell your stuff, you’ll get cash or store credit.

Cash upfront: Cash can be a strong motivator to help anyone clean closets — especially tweens and teens. But prepare your kids; consignment stories are picky about what they take, especially when they offer cash. Take like-new and good-condition trendy and brand-name clothing to chain resale stores such as Buffalo Exchange or Plato’s Closet.

Consign online: You can also consign kids clothing via online stores including ThredUp, Kidizen, Schoola or Poshmark.

More ideas for clearing clutter

  • Host a clothing and/or toy swap where people can bring in clothes/toys kids have outgrown and exchange them for “new” ones.
  • Host a yard sale. Compete to see who in the family can make the most money. Get the neighbors involved!
  • Keep a donation bag. Always have a “donate” bag accessible so everyone in the family can contribute items they’ve outgrown.
  • Start a fix-it bin. Put old or broken toys in a bin for future building, fixing or craft projects. Set a time limit before they go to the donate bag.




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