Q&A:What can I do if my family members resist tidying up?


“The ultimate secret of success is this: If you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mind-set. A change so profound that it touches your emotions will irresistibly affect your way of thinking and your lifestyle habits”

-Marie Kondo, The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up



During your own journey of tidying up your home, you will most likely encounter some resistance from family members living under the same roof. We are creatures of habits and change may be very difficult for some people to deal with. When people live in a disorderly home over a period of time, two things can happen: One, they accept the negative perception of themselves that they can not keep their home tidy, stop trying, and stop seeing the clutter. Two, they complain or make excuses for the mess, yet they aren’t able to bring themselves to change it.

The commonality of unorganized homes are the stifling energy and the negative moods of those who live there. Their homes become metaphors for their emotions. In their personal lives, many of them feel hopeless and stuck in their relationships or jobs. This is often reflected in the jam-packed drawers and closets. Some of them make the same poor choices in relationships. The parallel can be seen clearly in their shopping habits, always in search for the right one that never comes. They tell themselves that they live busy lives and are fine with the mess.  When in reality they settle for less and suppress their feelings of frustrations.  Even the most successful people can live in clutter because they justify their procrastination to address their personal life and space by focusing only in the areas where they feel confident and excel at.

If you have been in those places and you are ready for a change, congratulations for taking the first step towards living a simple and joyful life.  Confront those difficult feelings attached to our belongings will not only spark joy in your home, but also allow you to experience your life becoming more joyful. Think of it as detox for your home, mind, and body. You want to create a comfortable environment that recharges you, so you can live your dreams and passions. And before attempting to influence other members of your family,  you must first thoroughly confront each and every item that belongs to you.


“The urge to point out someone else’s failure to tidy is usually a sign
that you are neglecting to take care of your own space.” -Marie Kondo


In my previous article about finding your voice through decluttering, I shared my personal experience of feeling more confident being my true self after applying the KonMari method to my home. When you know who you are and what you value the most, the words and ideas you express carry more weight. Have you ever experienced being inspired by someone who exudes confidence to take action? When you focus on your own dramatic organization transformation, the changes in you will be so palpable, it’ll be very hard for family members to not take notice. This new energy isn’t going to instantly change your family to start cleaning up, but it will intrigue them enough to want to try it out themselves when they are ready.

If it is your partner who you wish would join you on this journey, keep decluttering until you “feel” you have reached the sweet spot. That is when everywhere you look you see things you love and enjoy, or have items that enhance your user experience. Once you get there, your concern or resentment towards your partner may turn into empathy. Because you will be to see his/her fear of confronting their own emotions connected to their belongings. Be there to support them and share your knowledge when they are ready act. Allow them to experience the changes for themselves because doing their work deprives them the opportunity to be in touch with their emotions and guarantees relapse. The choices they make on their own for what to keep will give them the confidence and ability to stay organized, to shop mindfully, and to appreciate what they have. In the meantime, ask them to share the household responsibilities and be very specific with your request. According to Marie Kondo’s second book Spark Joy, you can also show them how to fold their clothes the KonMari way. Folding them into little rectangles and storing them upright. The new look of a neater drawer or closet will also motivate your spouse to discard their own items while maintaining the work you’ve done together.

If it is your children who are making the mess, please read the article on toy organization and check out the before and after of a toy closet. It is in their nature to play freely and explore. They actually have more fun when there’s a big mess. Children have amazing memories to know where they’ve left something. So they’ll play in one place, move to another and back and forth. Give them a few heads ups before clean up time and make sure you get a confirmation that they heard you. (I normally will do 10-minute warning, 5-minute, and a last-call before ending play time)  When they are finished playing, keep the clean up process simple enough that even your youngest child can help. I like using a large container or a laundry basket on wheels to store all of their toys without sorting them. A race to see who can pick up the last piece followed by a big cheer makes it more fun. Once it becomes part of their daily routine, it’s much easier to build on that with age appropriate chores.

I hope you find the advice helpful. If you have further questions, feel free to contact me.



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