Before&After: Tidying with Kids (Toy Organization)

“I need help with my shelves.” said my 8-year-old client, a good sign that she was aware her current situation wasn’t ideal. The good news is she has many shelves and baskets. The bad news is she has so many tiny objects, from stuffed animals to stickers, to hair accessories, that it’ll take a long time to go through everything.

Working with children is always fun for me. Many kids don’t want their toys taken away, but when given the power to make their own decisions on what to get rid of, it becomes the parents who are unable to let go. Children don’t have the attachment to how much money was spent on a toy, they often don’t know or remember who gave it to them. It’s actually easy for them to decide if something sparks joy for them or not if they know their parents will accept and respect whatever decisions they make.

As always we started with clothing. Luckily, my little apprentice loves manga and has already read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up and was eager to learn to fold her clothes. We went through her pile of clothes and she sorted them into the keep and donate pile.  Since she also likes to fold origami, it took no time for her to learn to fold the KonMari way.

Simple Joy Tip:
When teaching children to fold, make sure your expectations are age-appropriate based on their motor skills. It’s not about perfection when you work with kids younger than 5 years old. Be encouraging and focus on them being responsible and respectful to their belongings, and most importantly they have confidence doing it independently and they are building good habits.



Next, we tackle the books. My client loves to read and has plenty of shelves to hold her books. As she checked for joy, we decided to separate them into fiction and non-fiction books. Since she has a large collection of pillows, we also cleared a space in front of the shelves to turn into a cozy corner with books within reach.

Bedroom Shelves Before



Bedroom Shelves After


We placed the books by subcategories on the bottom, which also anchors the shelves visually. Then each shelve was dedicated to objects of a similar theme. From mementos to beauty projects, to collectibles. My client couldn’t wait to relax in her cozy corner with all of her favorite pillows.

The Toy Collection Before


We piled all of her stuffed animals on the bed to be sorted one by one.

Toy Collection After


We were able to remove about half of the stuffed animals from her collection. I asked her to select the top 8 of the ones with the big eyes to be displayed, the rest were stored in the 2 blue baskets on the bottom. Then the squishy ones she plays with often were placed in matching wire baskets. The second to the bottom shelf also holds games and craft kits. There is a little spot to keep her pink sleep eye mask handy for night time.


The desk’s open shelving allowed us to organize her notebooks and stickers into little baskets. She will have access to them both from her desk and her cozy corner. She also has paper, and other office supplies visible and easily accessible.

Dresser Before


The top of the dresser often becomes a place where we just leave things and forget. It creates a lot of visual clutter not conducive to sleep. We cleared off anything that didn’t belong on the dresser and only kept items that sparked joy.

Dresser After


This Before & After took about 3.5 hours where my client did all of the decision makings and I helped her designate where to keep them. We didn’t get a chance to work on her hanging closet, but we were both pleased with the outcome for the rest of the room.

Here are some key points to remember when working with children:

• Prepare the child before the session that they recognize the disorganization
• They need to remember the frustration of not able to able to find what they need
• Connect with their feelings toward the belongings that they love, and should place more importance on taking care of them.
•, Understand how clutter affects their mood
• Accepts responsibility for the clutter.
• Emphasize the teachable moment about those less fortunate. And how donating their gently used stuffed animals to fire departments and police stations so they can be used for calming other children in distress.
• And lastly, encourage your children to value experiences and bonding with loved ones over material gifts.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this KonMari makeover. Follow my blog, or @simplejoywithann on Instagram for daily organizing, parenting, and positive living tips.


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