Monday, February 18, 2013

What to do when your kid turns out to be a hoarder.

So, I have pictures coming of the new bedroom set and a hilarious story about how I almost cracked my head open on the first night because as it turns out, I have terrible depth perception and my bed is very high.

But in the meantime, I have a daughter who as it turns out, is a hoarder and I would prefer for her to be OCD. During the Great Furniture Swap Out of 2013, our bed and my dresser went to Olivia's room and Matt's dresser went to Jackson's room. This obviously means I (and I cannot stress *I* enough here) have to switch over their clothes to the new dressers. But you can't just do that, can you? No, because you move a dresser and find a bunch of shit somehow shoved underneath it and so it compels you to move other stuff and just really clean it out.

It's like the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie except you aren't dealing with milk, cookies, and balloons and shit, you're dealing with garbage bags, rolling totes and swear words.

And in my case, crying children.

Anyone who knows me or has been to my house knows that I am a really neat person. I like things put away, I like things cleaned, and I don't like shit just willy nilly. If you are a hoarder, don't invite me over unless you want me to start cleaning and throwing things out or have a full on anxiety attack.

Because it will happen.

Close friends and family know I'm what would be called a purger. I'm like the opposite of a hoarder. I try to get rid of as much crap as I can. Once a shelf fills up, I am compelled to get rid of stuff to make more room. I like clean and open spaces. It's a shame I don't have a basement because I'd bet my home on having the neatest, most organized and most efficient basement. I don't understand a person's need to keep things for sentimental value. Sure, I might hang onto it for a bit, but then I find it and wonder why the fuck I wanted to keep it and then toss it.

But Olivia... is not this way. Olivia keeps EVERY THING. I'm talking wrappers, miscellaneous papers, full notebooks, broken toys, basically stuff she can't use again and quite frankly, can't find to even remember she has it. The girl is a slob. And I say that with love and then wonder where the fuck I went wrong. So I spent hours cleaning her room on Sunday. It was unbelievable. We hauled out every toy she has in her room, sorted what she doesn't play with and what she does. We sorted Barbies, the accessories, the outfits, etc into bins. I went through her cubby shelf and threw out so much stuff.

Oh my god, the stuff.

I'm talking THREE GARBAGE BAGS FULL of shit. Absolute shit. The best is the Nutty Bar wrapper she kept because she liked the colors.

Is this normal? Because I tell you what, I lost all decorum as a mother cleaning this word. I know I was swearing, but when Polly Pocket's house fell off a shelf and hit me in the head while simultaneous knocking the 50+ cards for Memory onto the ground? A few F-bombs were said. I still have a bump on my head.

For a child who has a mother so anal retentive as I am, you'd think she'd inherit some of my crazy. She has not. I'm pretty sure I'm driving her to the brink of hoarding. I had to sit down and explain to her why it's not OK to save garbage and how if you don't like a toy anymore, it's OK for you to tell me and we can either yard sale it or donate it to a kid who has no toys of their own. It's OK, I'm not going to get mad. We outgrow stuff and it's just totally fine.

But I tell you what, by the time I finished in there I had to tell her that it needs to change. I think they take their $1 per week allowance for granted and now I feel like I have to go on a chart system so that they can see that they are earning it and connect the dots or something.

How else can I handle this? I mean, how do you motivate a child to take pride in keeping their shit neat and tidy so mommy doesn't lose her shit?


Ruth said...

I really have no advice. I can see not wanting to get rid of toys. My daughter loves is a shirtaholic and I have to make her go through them or her room would be full of them. But, I am at a loss for the candy bar wrapper.
My oldest sister is messy and always was. My mother used to wonder how she got that way too. My other sister and I aren't that way.

Deanna said...

I am going through the same thing... he can't throw away broken toys, can't donate stuffies and he has even kept bandaids from blood work. I am afraid of trashing things when he is not there because it might make him hoard more but I have such a hard time trying to get him to purge. :(

Unknown said...

Olivia needs control over something. This is probably, frankly, the one thing in her life that she CAN control. Some kids try to control food and that becomes a problem when they develop anorexia. She already had issues with controlling her body, so I would really for the most part let it be. You should encourage her to be more neat in a POSITIVE way, not in a 'this is pissing me off you slob' way to want to be more clean, and to take a more active roll in cleaning, but you CAN'T show her how stressed this is making YOU. The control aspect of it will get insanely out of hand if she's stubborn and so are you.

Part of this really is that kids are just slobs that don't see a lot of the mess that we do. Oh this is so true, especially at her age, and all kids to some degree are hoarders. They attach memories to their stuff and don't want to get rid of it.

I know you like your house clean, but your kid needs to be an individual. Set reasonable expectations for the condition of her room, understanding her age and capabilities, and go in seasonally and sort it out. My friend is currently experiencing the '6 year old with too much crap' dilemma so I get to see it personally on a pretty regular basis. I was a slob as a kid and now I'm pretty neat. My cousin was a COMPLETE slob and shit would always be knee high of crap in her room, all of her childhood, but she grew up into an really organized, neat, engineer.

middle child said...

I don't know. But I am the one needing motivation so.....when someone gives you a good idea..let me know.

SpiritPhoenix said...

I used to be that way myself. My mom hated cleaning my room with me. My issue was and still is somewhat with bags. I love bags, purses, boxes. Anything I can hide stuff in. Now I'm aware of it and trying to get rid of things. But as a kid. I just didn't care. I really didn't care if there was shit all over my floor or under the bed or whatever.

Now, I'm much better. Still not quite up to my husband's idea of clean. But much better. Angel Baby has some of my tendencies, but Squeaker is a CLEAN FREAK! He doesn't like stuff out of place. You'd be so proud. He picked up an empty box. (I had just bought wipes in bulk from Costco and put them away in the closet.) He didn't like the empty box. So he picked it up, waddled over to the laundry room (near the garage where the garbage goes out) and looked at me plaintively until I opened the door and he could put it there.

His favorite thing lately is to throw away....anything really. Got Daddy all proud until Daddy left out the tax stuff and almost lost his W-2 form.

(Sorry this is so long. I've just been dealing with this kinda thing lately.)

justme5686 said...

I have the same problem at my house with Gabby. Maybe it's an age thing? I know my room was a full blown mess as a child and now I can't stand a mess in the house. I can't sleep or function if I know things are messy. Also, I'm a purger. I keep telling you that Olivia and Gabby are on the same wave length for everything they are the same age and all. Good luck, mama!

Lin said...

I'm not even gonna lie, my husband is hoarder like Olivia. Dude keep EVERY little thing. It's going to be the death of me one day. Dont know if it's just his sheer laziness to get up & throw shit away but every month we pick up our room & end up taking out 2 giant trash bags full of fast food bags, soda bottles, candy wrappers & broken shit he brings home from work in his pockets that he 'might' use later.

Death. Of. Me.

FinnyKnits said...

So, you know that I am super A/R. And I hate HATEHATEHATELOATHE clutter. As a kid, I used to clean my room by just throwing shit away that I didn't have room for. Regardless of whether it was still in working order/belonged to me/was something I was wearing at the time.

My mom used to inspect my "donation" bags after cleaning my room because I used to throw so much "good" stuff away.

But I also grew up in a household with parents who could be considered hoarders and it bugged the ever loving crap out of me. So I became A/R as a result.

So, you know, if you're looking for Olivia to change, maybe you have to become a hoarder.

Good luck with that.

Josie said...

The candy bar wrapper thing ALMOST makes sense to me because I used to save the tags off of clothes if they had a cute design on them or if I liked the logo. dad is a total OCD neat freak. My mom? Is borderline for one of those people that you see on Hoarders. My dad has nagged her enough that her disaster is consolidated into one room of the house. Growing up with this, though, has kind of destroyed me. I WANT for things to be perfectly clean and nice and organized and I enjoy doing deep cleaning, like scrubbing walls and bathtubs and shit. But when I get so surrounded by clutter, I don't know where to start and I get overwhelmed and lose all motivation to do anything about it. I'm sure you will, but I just have to say pretty please help Olivia so she doesn't end up all confused like me. It's REALLY not healthy to have such an internal conflict with yourself all the time.