MOMMYHOOD: What the show "HOARDERS" taught me and my daughter

I am not sure if you have seen the reality show, "HOARDERS" on A&E, but it is pretty awful and incredible, all at the same time. The show sheds light on the mental disorder called hoarding. It's when people cannot throw anything away, and as a result, make their homes pretty much uninhabitable. Its amazing (and disgusting) to see some of the squalor some of these people just live in everyday, and it doesn't even phase them. Some of these people have young children, too. I don't watch all the time, because I really can't. It is really disturbing to watch, and yet-you cannot look away once you are sucked in. But I will tell you, it has been a HUGE motivation for me to clean out closets and rooms over the past year. Its kind of funny, but my husband can attest to the bags of old baby things and clothes that have gone to charity or to other family members throughout the year. And it feels really good.

So, as I mentioned in a previous post, during my holiday time off, I am doing more organizing and house projects. As I passed my daughter's room this morning, a wave of fear hit me. Am I raising a hoarder? My daughter is a collector. She collects rocks, shells, bottle caps, Bakugan, Pokemon, trading cards, bugs, webkinz and gogos. This is on top of the typical kid clutter you get with art, paper, stickers, craft supplies and books. With the new Christmas items strewn all over as well, it hit me that if she was going to continue to collect things, she needed to learn to cull, say good bye to things and also give to others less fortunate. She also needs to learn the art of organizing her collections and realize that clutter is not a nice way to live. So after breakfast, I announced our big project for the day. I motivated her with the reward of seeing her neighbor friend after we were done. I have to hand it to her, she dug right in and did little complaining. Maybe her clutter was bothering her, too.

At any rate, I informed her I had a variety of garbage bags. One for charity, a couple for the spring garage sale we are having, one for recycling, and one for garbage. I kept giving her piles to look through and gave her assignments. The first test was her paper pile of art projects, make-believe props and just scribbles and signs. She usually has a difficult time letting go of all of this. Typically when I do clean up, I sneak around and put it in the garbage without her knowing. I realized today I am not teaching her anything. She needs to learn to let go and not keep everything. I had her separate the paper into two piles, and the art she wanted to save I promised to put in a keepsake portfolio organizer my sister 'n law gave me. (this is it if you want one, too. Its helpful! I have to say, she did great. 3/4 of the paper went in recycling. This was a big move for her, and I praised her ability to make hard choices.

We then moved around the room to her toy box, her desk and went through the closet. I kept asking her if things needed to stay or go. Some things she had trouble letting go of, and that stuff I did not push because she was still making great progress in the "go" column. In the end, we had 2 1/2 bags to put in the garage sale, one bag for recycling, one for garbage and one for charity.

Her collections I helped her organize so she wasn't overrun by them. I bought a box of mason jars, and in each she had to pick her favorite rocks or shells. I labeled each jar with where the items came from and the year. She displayed them proudly AND CLEANLY on her dresser. I explained collections need to be nice and neat to be enjoyed, and I think she really got it.

She kept up with me for three hours, and I was very proud of her. I could tell she saw the clutter get under control and the good feeling she had inside to have her room nice and neat. I hope we can continue these good habits so I don't see her on A&E 15 years from now! We're going to keep at it. My little collector is always coming up with new things to collect, so I am sure this will be her challenge throughout her life. Now I am off to MY bedroom and to do some cleaning!


  1. I too have been guilty of sneaking around my 5 year old daughter's room removing old rocks, birthday party favors and scraps of paper. But I can boast of one accomplishment. I've convinced her we don't need to save her art. Rather, I take a digital picture of it and save it to a folder on flickr. One of these days I'll create a picture book with a year's worth of art projects in it.

  2. I love the idea of taking digital pictures of children's art to keep clutter down! I will try that. Even with culling our keepsake portfolio is looking pretty crowded-great idea Marketing Mommy!


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