There’s this new show on Netflix you might have heard of: Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. For those who haven’t heard of it, Marie Kondo is a wonderful and bright… well, “Interior Decorator” is the wrong way to put it. “Professional Tidier” would be a more apt term. Her show features her going to terribly-cluttered homes and completely decluttering them.
It’s not your typical home reno show – nothing gets built, no walls are knocked down, and nobody decides that it would be a good idea to paint a teal accent wall. Instead, Ms. Kondo focuses on maximizing the space you have and the stuff you own.
There’s a particular reason for this: by making sure that everything has its place, and by cutting down on just the amount of stuff that you have, you will naturally cut down your stress and be free to enjoy the space. Or, to put it in the words of Regina Leeds, another tidying master: “your crap and clutter is what’s going on inside of you.”
While Today’s Family is a welcoming environment, it is not an idle one. Our children, especially those who attend our full-day programs, are encouraged to use our spaces to interact with each other and explore the world. As we mentioned in a previous post, we discourage attention-sucks like phones and tablets, instead pushing children to play with and talk to each other. This mission requires a tidy space.
We don’t mean an always tidy space. Children are children and they make mess. But visit any one of our programs and you will find carefully cordoned off chaos: a rug for building blocks, and ONLY building blocks, a table for arts and crafts, comfy chairs specifically for reading.
There are a couple of advantages to our system: one is that things don’t get lost (as often). If a particular puzzle piece goes missing, we can focus our search on the area where the puzzles are supposed to be, instead of searching the whole room. But it also clearly connects certain activities to particular spaces, so much so that when children enter those spaces, they naturally start to get in particular frames of mind to interact with the stuff in that space.
(This is the same reason why psychologists say that the only thing you should do in bed is sleep.)
And then there’s the tidying itself. Unlike Ms. Kondo, we don’t have the children look at each toy at the centre and ask “Does this bring me joy?” We have different objectives: Ms. Kondo is trying to cut down on the amount of stuff you own, while we just want to put the stuff we have in its proper place.
We do, however, have our children work with our Early Childhood Educators to clean up each space as soon as it’s not in use. After all, our ECEs are capable professionals. Teaching children how to properly tidy up after themselves (or, as Ms. Kondo would put it, showing proper respect to the objects by finding its particular place) introduces and reinforces strategies that remain useful throughout life, even after their Today’s Family days are far behind them.