Tidying once and never again?

A bit of a longer post today – but hopefully helpful in keeping on top of things.


One of the big attractions of decluttering using the KonMari method is that if you do it properly the first time, there needn’t be a second time. In other words, you only need to declutter and tidy once.

This is a pretty big promise, and when I was talking with Claire on Dak Li Jghodd (you can watch it here, from about 28 minutes in, if you missed it) I realised that I should probably give it a bit more time. So today I’m going to talk about how I maintain a decent standard of tidiness and cleanliness with a toddler and a career, after completing the KonMari process myself.

The first thing to say is that after you’ve discarded possessions that no longer spark joy, and organised what remains, the task of keeping your home or workspace tidy is immediately simpler. There’s less (or no) clutter to vacuum around. There are fewer ornaments and vases that were gifted to you (and you maybe never even liked) to dust. Laundry doesn’t pile up so much as there are fewer clothes. So you may wash the clothes you have more often, but you’re not confronted by The Pile Of Doom each time you enter the utility room / bathroom / wherever you keep your laundry basket. Plus of course you probably have a much clearer idea of what you like and wear, so you’re bringing fewer new items of clothing into the home. If you’re following Marie Kondo’s method closely and emptying your handbag / work bag / changing bag each time you return home, there aren’t three or four ‘sometimes’ bags sitting in the hallway – a purse in one, phone in the other, various sets of keys distributed between them.


But obviously there has to be some sort of maintenance to keep everything looking ship-shape – right?

Well yes. It’s good to have a refresh of your main storage spaces perhaps twice a year, and your paperwork files do need to be dealt with regularly to avoid them becoming a hiding place for life admin tasks you don’t want to face.


I’m going to talk now about what I do daily, weekly, and less frequently. I’m discussing both tidying and cleaning here, because most of us do both of these things.

The KonMari method doesn’t really deal with cleaning, but I’ve found a system I’m really happy with called The Organised Mum Method. It limits me to 45 minutes of cleaning per day, including time to put forgotten objects away (which is where most people start to come undone). This is ideal as it’s enough time to deal with the necessary tasks, but also lets me enjoy quality time with my son and get some work done!


DISCLAIMER: This is by no means the perfect way to keep on top of everything, and a bout of illness, travel, or having guests to stay can sometimes throw things a little. But it keeps things ticking over on the whole, and I’m pretty satisfied that we can remain healthy, happy, and productive.

The Organised Mum Method is nothing to do with the KonMari Method and neither person is connected with the other. I simply find that TOMM is a great way to keep on top of the cleaning AND TIDYING. In other words it allows me to keep my home KonMari’d.


When I get up the first thing I do is to open the bedroom window and flip the sheets back to allow the bed to air. I then go to put a load of laundry in. If I manage at least one load per day, things never get too precarious and everybody always has socks.

After the usual breakfast and dog walking my wife heads out to work, putting out the appropriate rubbish / recycling / organic waste bags as she goes. I put the robot vacuum on in the hallway or living room (if we didn’t have this I’d just vacuum while my son played with his toys, but pretty early on before he needed a change of scenery).

We then head to the bathroom. My son’s favourite thing to do now is to sit in the empty bathtub and organise his bath toys. While he works hard at this, I wipe down the main surfaces in the bathroom. It takes maybe five minutes.

The everyday tasks (level 1 tasks) are now complete – the dishwasher has usually been on overnight and if we’ve been super organised, we’ve thrown something in the slow cooker for tonight’s dinner.


I then turn to the once weekly (level 2) tasks. The Organised Mum has lists of which room is to be focused on each day. Today is Wednesday so I’m focusing on the entrance hall and stairs. These cleaning jobs are a little more thorough, e.g. vacuuming and mopping the stairs, dusting the chest of drawers, and sorting through the coat rack to put away anything that hasn’t been worn in the last few days.

If possible, I do these things while my son is having his nap (usually 11-1).

After 45 minutes is up, I stop what I’m doing. Even if I haven’t quite finished dusting, or cleaning the hall mirror, I’ll leave it. The nice thing is that after a few weeks of doing this, things are generally nice and clean so the routine speeds up. I spend the rest of my son’s nap time either writing a blog post or doing something for myself like reading / trying to learn to crochet (its a slow process as I have no spatial awareness).


Around lunchtime I’ll hang the cleaned laundry on the terrace and put in a second load if needed. The second load will be hung inside with the dehumidifier on overnight, to be dry by the next morning.

I fold clean laundry after I’ve done my son’s bedtime, usually watching something on nextflix or listening to an audiobook. If I do this daily it taken maybe 10-15 minutes. If I let it pile up it becomes like a monster that haunts my dreams!


Each Friday I focus on the Level 3 (less frequent) tasks, usually in the afternoon when my son is at nursery. There are no level 2 (once weekly) tasks to deal with on a Friday.

If he didn’t go to nursery we’d probably switch this to Saturday and take turns – one week my wife would do them and the second I would, while the other took our son to the playground.

So this week is the turn of ‘kids rooms’. We only have one so it’s fairly straightforward. And this is where there’s time to really dig into each room. This Friday I’ll aim to:

  • Pull out any clothes that no longer fit and decide where they’ll go
  • Change his cot bedding and wash the sleepyhead cover.
  • Put the robot vacuum to work (it fits under the bed which is a job I could never be bothered to deal with)
  • Wipe down the skirting boards
  • Clean windows, mirrors and picture frames
  • Look through his toys and identify anything broken / outgrown (NOTE: I don’t tend to get rid of his toys without first having watched him play over the course of about a week to see what he’s actually lost interest in. When he’s a little older I aim to get him involved in the decision making process)
  • Straighten out the contents of his shelves and coat rack.

Again, this can be flown through in about 30 minutes, so together with 15 minutes for the daily tasks, we’re done in roughly 45 minutes.


And there you have it. I’ve found through experimentation that trying to do big chunks of tidying  / cleaning / folding just doesn’t work with an inquisitive and sometimes needy toddler. I work around him – if he’s happy playing with his books in the living room I’ll spend a bit of time folding the laundry that dried overnight instead of leaving it until the evening. If he is in a good mood and will happily sit in a cardboard box for half an hour (thanks Amazon!) I might bring him into the relevant room and try to do some of that day’s level 2 or 3 tasks. I’m really aware though that I don’t want him to just see me tidying up and cleaning – I don’t want to be allocated the role of ‘house mum’ and my wife to be ‘fun and games mum’ in the evening and at weekends. So I do make the effort to get down on the floor and read with him / push him on his rocking caterpillar / pop him on a chair so he can ‘bake’ with me (throw flour on the worktop mainly). And of course my wife chips in with doing laundry, cooking (amazingly) etc.


I’m happy to answer any questions, and of course if you’re ready to start your tidying and decluttering journey, drop me a message. Let’s talk.

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