Ask Grainne | Early Riser Kids & Why Marie Kondo Is Ruining My Life

Need parenting advice that doesn’t read like you joined a new age cult? Ask Grainne for the unvarnished truth about modern Irish parenting.

Dear Grainne

Marie Kondo is ruining my life

Last week I got inspired by a mate’s new kitchen. To be fair, not inspired enough that I would put up with the building site hell she has endured for the last 12 months after some massive storm Hector damage. But, none the less the new kitchen, with her current clutter free house looks AMAZING. Marie Kondo’ she told me and I dutifully went off and binge-watched the Kondo series on Netflix while doing the night time feeds. Post watching it I think I am having a mid-life crisis.

Armed with the mantra ‘if it doesn’t spark any joy bin it’ I started to tackle the war zone that is our house post-baby no 2. Breast pumps do not spark joy, they make me feel in fact like a milking cow, but I presume I can’t bin those as they are currently used. Ditto sterilising equipment, baby monitor, crib, baby bath, stroller (that FYI you need an engineering degree to collapse it flat), the small baby bag that weighs 2 tonnes. Why does someone so tiny need so much stuff?

So, I decided to start small and tackle just one room that was really bugging me rather than our full house which is covered in baby stuff. The playroom – aka the place that you can’t walk through barefoot without stabbing yourself with some extremely sharp and tiny toy. 

It was here I discovered that the most loved toy of our toddler is always the toy you just put into the donate pile.  They may have ignored it since they got it but once you go to get rid of it that one toy becomes the very essence of their childhood that you must be trying to ruin by taking it away. 

I’m only 1/3 of the way in and have now fully realised I have bitten off way more than I can chew. The room is a mess with everything in one pile (a la the Kondo method and 100% worse than when I started). I would ask the Hubby for help but he will just laugh having called the whole idea insane from the start. (He is hunkering down for the long haul. He thinks we should avoid any type of home renovation work till the kids are grown and leave the house, because…well, he knows our children. Me I am still clinging to that belief that we can still have ‘nice’ things and children).

Grainne any tips on how to make a quick retreat (while saving face)? 


Kildare Mum.

Dear Kildare Mum.

Kondo is deranged and your husband is right.

As you correctly point out, feeding equipment and pushchairs don’t spark joy for anyone. Neither do the old runners you use for cutting the grass or spanks but we do still need them.

Kondo has way too much time on her hands and way too much money. We all know the feeling of searching for that top, you know the one that you can wear when you’re having your fat days and hides the muffin top! Only to suddenly remember you got rid of it in the last bag you sent to the charity shop because it doesn’t spark joy! So, you go to the charity shop in the hope you will find it hanging on a rail where you can buy it back for €3. But no. It is not there because some other woman’s muffin is being discreetly hidden by it. And guess what, she doesn’t find “joy” in it either but understands it has a purpose.

Rather than getting rid of things that don’t spark joy, get rid of things that have no purpose (joy can be a purpose). Don’t buy things that don’t have a purpose. Save money and have less unnecessary crap in your house. Simple.

Also, nice things and small children = stress.

*I do note you mention very small objects and have a small baby. I would suggest you get rid of the very small objects before your small baby begins to crawl or you may be minus said baby whether or not it brings joy! 

Dear Grainne

Early riser kids (except on weekdays i.e. when there is school & I need to get them out the door!)

My partner and I split drop offs and collections for our two litters under 6. I got the drop off’s because she starts work earlier. My question – exactly how much sleep do kids need? Most mornings it’s like trying to drag the living dead from the bed. Are we not putting them to bed early enough if they are this exhausted? Don’t even get me started on the Monday after the clocks change for daylight savings time.

To get them out of bed and into school on time I’ve tried alarm clocks, waking them earlier (they just crawl back into bed as soon as my back is turned). Daylight simulator lightbulbs to cope with dark mornings.  And, I am not proud of this – flat out bribery (of the sugary cereal variety, the brands my wife won’t let in the house and that I have hidden in the back of the cupboard). Nothing works.

Weekdays, Monday – Friday I arrive at the school gates with them late. They are always relaxed about this, but me, I’m stressed out every time.  Worse their principal has started giving me the evil eye. Their report cards have started to mention ‘chronic’ lateness. Parental guilt is hitting home.

Then at weekends, the reverse happens. They are different kids. The two days of the week when both the wife and I would like them to sleep in, those mornings they are up at the crack of dawn (literally).  Then just jump on our bed till we feed them.

What am I doing wrong?

Yours, Stressed out Dad of 2

Dear stressed out Dad,

Have you ever considered hiring a string quartet to arrive at 7.30am and play Mozart to your sleeping beauties to help them awaken? Or maybe you should dress up as a prince and wake them with a gentle kiss?

Who exactly is the parent here? Kids need between 10 and 12 hours of sleep at night. You don’t say exactly how much they are getting so I will presume enough as they are happy to get out of bed on the weekends. They, like the rest of humankind who have to ‘work’ Monday to Friday, have ‘working week/school week’ dread from about mid-day Sunday. A feeling that leaves us all with a Monday morning hangover*.

In saying this, it is no excuse. Every man woman and child feels much the same on a weekday morning so buck up and get yourself organised. Being late to class is not helpful to the teacher or the rest of the children who manage to get themselves there on time. It causes disruption to the class and leaves the teacher having to go back over any work covered with your selfish tardy kids.

Why are your kids “relaxed” about being late? They should be far from “relaxed”! Where is the punishment? Where is the withdrawal of privileges? Where is the early bedtime? You see fit to reward their selfishness with tooth-rotting cereal and indulge their spoiled little asses with “daylight simulating bulbs”.

Their principal is right to give you the evil eye, right to put it on their report. It is your fault they are late not theirs. It is your job to get them to school on time.

I feel it is only right to point out there are kids in this country who are getting two buses across town while living in hotel rooms adjoining late-night revellers. They manage to get to school without special lightbulbs and have no choice over what “breakfast” they will get up for!

So, do your job, punish your kids for tardiness and stop disrupting the parents, kids, and, teachers who manage to get their shit together and arrive on time.

*Monday hangover is not (always) due to excessive drinking on a Sunday night, but rather a state of mind caused by the dread of 5 full days of work looming ahead.

About Grainne: Proudly known as a bitch by her nearest and dearest. Surprisingly still married to the father of her three, only slightly dysfunctional children. Has opinions about everything.

*Disclaimer Grainne is not qualified in any way to answer your problems. She doesn’t do feedback but if you want you can leave a comment below or email her at [email protected] We can almost certainly guarantee you she will NOT get back to you, but, one of her cousins who helps her might. Alternatively, you can stalk them directly Twitter: @Triona_Campbell or @KearneyRoisin or both