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Tidying guru Marie Kondo: kids can learn her methods, too


Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.

Megan Thompson: If you've never used the tidying advice of Marie Kondo, chances are pretty high that you know someone who has used her techniques to discard mounds of personal stuff. This week, Kondo launched her latest project - a new book, aimed at children. I spoke with her earlier this week here in New York.

Home-organizing guru Marie Kondo says she's always loved keeping tidy, but she actually found getting rid of things really stressful - until she realized this:

Marie Kondo: What's important in tidying up is not what you throw away but what you keep. In other words, it would work if I kept things that made me happy in my home, things that I love, the things that I cherish.

Megan Thompson: And it's this idea, of only keeping things that "spark joy," as she says, that's made her a major celebrity. Her books, including the 2014 blockbuster, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" have sold more than 12 million copies. She was named one of Time Magazine's most influential people in 2015. And earlier year, there was a hit television show on Netflix.

In books, on T.V., or in-person, if you're lucky enough to be one of her actual clients, Kondo teaches her unique approach to keeping tidy. It's called the "KonMari Method." It's part practical, part spiritual. When Kondo enters a home - or in this case, the room in which we filmed her interview - she performs a short ritual to greet the space.

Marie Kondo: It's like giving a small introduction about myself, or it could be gratitude for letting me be here today at this place.

Megan Thompson: And then the tidying begins.

Marie Kondo: There are three points in the "Kon-Mari" method. The first is to organize by categories.

Megan Thompson: Rather than tidy by room, Kondo advises clients and fans to gather every single book, or item of clothing, in one spot. So they can see the totality of what they own.

Marie Kondo: And the most important thing is that when you are tidying up by categories like that, keep only what sparks joy in you.

Megan Thompson: And you have to actually pick it up, and look at it?

Marie Kondo: That's right. When you hold it in your hand, it would be good for you to sense if your body kind of feels something triggered like your senses are waking up, whether it sparks joy or not.

Megan Thompson: And if it doesn't spark joy, what should I do with it?

Marie Kondo: If it does not spark joy, then, say, 'Thank you for your service,' and let it go.

Megan Thompson: For the objects you do keep, Kondo has systems of organizing and storing. Like her famous method of folding shirts in a compact way so they can stand upright in a drawer.

Megan Thompson: Your books have been hugely popular, you've sold millions of them. You have a TV show. I mean, people seem desperate for this. What do you think that's about?

Marie Kondo: I think it is because there are really many people in the world who own many things but their hearts are not fulfilled, and they are suffering from that.

Megan Thompson: Kondo says she's been interested in tidying and organizing since she was just five years old...inspired by her mother, who seemed to really enjoy doing housework.

Megan Thompson: So when did you realize that this could actually be a business?

Marie Kondo: This was when I was in the second year of college, I always loved tidying up so my hobby was to help my friends tidy up their houses. As I continued doing it, the rumor started going around that their houses would become neat if I visited. And from that point on, I started receiving requests to do it for money.

Megan Thompson: And the Kondo empire began. This week, Kondo released her first book for children - called "Kiki and Jax: The Life-Changing Magic of Friendship." It's a story about Jax the owl, who is called a "sorter." Kiki the squirrel ... she's, well, a little messy. Kiki misses play dates because she can't find her ball, then her swimsuit. At the end, Jax helps Kiki bring order to her life by sorting through all her stuff. The book even includes illustrations for kids on how to fold a shirt, the "KonMari" way.

Megan Thompson: Why write a children's book?

Marie Kondo: Both of our daughters love to read, and they love to implement what they've just read. When I saw them do that, I thought, ah, it would be nice if you could learn tidying up in a fun manner from a picture book.

Megan Thompson: Kondo says she believes children as young as one - yes one - can start to learn her methods.

Megan Thompson: Now, I know that my three-year-old is going to say yes to every single thing. He loves all of his toys. So how do you explain to a child so young, we can't keep everything.

Marie Kondo: If that's the case, I think it's very important to verbally explain that: the space in your house is limited, and this is the storage place where you can put your toys right now.

Megan Thompson: Another Kondo tip: rather than asking your child if an item sparks joy, ask them to order their toys according to what they like best...then eliminate their least favorite items.

Marie Kondo: So for me, what's most important about this book, is that it teaches children that tidying can be so much fun. You tend to think of tidying up as something you must do, something burdensome. But you can learn to cherish your belongings even more, and I hope that even small children could learn such things.

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