answers to my cry for help

Thank you to all who chimed in on my cry for help on Tuesday. I so appreciate the words of wisdom that I received.

My cousin asked that I post the helpful advice that I received for anyone else who is struggling with a child who is a pack rat. Here are a few of the answers I received. I hope they help others!

This first answer is an email that I received from my friend, Liann. She gave me great advice and a lot of hope!


I read your notes today on facebook on your hoarding war. I am so sorry that you had a bad day at your house.

Since I am a closet hoarder (no pun intended) – I thought that maybe some reasons for wanting to keep everything and some solutions that work for me may be of help. For me – and I am sure this is not the reason for emme- keeping stuff is a form of security and control. When I didn’t feel that I had any control over my life I always knew that I had control over my stuff. I also like to keep things that remind me of good times. I am afraid that I will forget the good things that happen. This can spiral into keeping everything around including that scrap of paper that still has some space on it and the broken barbie that I may be able to fix some day. Although there are many reasons for wanting to keep stuff, at least for me it is mostly an unhealthy habit. So… how to control it.

As was suggested, I feel that since Emme is older, just going in and throwing stuff away when she isn’t home isn’t the best solution. One, she doesn’t stop keeping the stuff, she just has you clean it all up for her. Second, if she is like me, she will notice that things are gone and it will create a feeling of insecurity and loss of control. I feel it is really bestfor her to learn to not keep everything that crosses her path. These are solutions that have worked for me.

1. I make journals. Not fancy scrapbooks that I want to show anyone, just spiral notebooks where I journal about my day and maybe tape in something that reminds me of a good day or something fun. Knowing that I have a place to put my memories helps me to let go of things that I don’t really need. If I can’t put it in a scrapbook I may take a picture of it and put that in – then get rid of the item. sometimes, just being able to journal about my day and how I feel can help me get rid of the “stuff” that I think I need to remember.

2. Make sure that everything has a place. If it doesn’t fit – get rid of it. For example; pencils. I have a place in the drawer for them. I can only keep a certain amount. If a get a new pencil that is really cool, I have to get rid of another one to make room. this, of course, takes a certain amount of maturity and discipline, but if it is practiced regularly, it starts to sink in.

3. clean and organize your space once a week. Put it on the schedule for weekly chores. Be specific about what has to be cleaned. Tell her that she can keep a certain number of games, or books then let her decide which ones she keeps. If things are cleaned and organized on a regular basis, it is easier to keep on top of it. A half-hour or an hour that she can do herself once a week, instead of a battle every few months is a much happier way to run things.

4. Only have a certain number of clothes items. It is harder to do when you are a growing child, but knowing that you have to get rid of a clothing item if you are getting something else, makes you really think about whether you want it or not.

5. Try not to make it a fight. sometimes being forced to get rid of your stuff makes it harder to part with that pink paper clip

I don’t know if these suggestions will help, but maybe they will make it a bit easier.

happy organizing


This second answer is actually the comment that my friend, Anastasia, left on my blog request for help. I saw her today and was able to say that so far (granted we are only a few days into this) her advice is helping! Thanks Anastasia!

My son Cade(7) is like that. Once I have his room clean, I try to have him pick it up every night before bed. I have made specific places for certain things and I have to be there to supervise and help almost every time. I did give him a space where he can be “pack raty” as much as he wants – his bed. He loves blankets and stuffed animals. Currently he has 7 to 10 blankets and too many animals to count. Once a week we “tackle” the bed but it is his to enjoy (mess up) during the week. I have been doing this about two months and it is working so much better. I do have to stay on him and really supervise and do one task at a time, but we get through it and we can see the floor and his desk. It is not easy and really a daily task for him(us) but it only takes a few minutes a day compared to an all day battle. He is beginning to take pride in his room. Oh, and he can’t have friends over if it is messy or out of control. That seems to help, too. Let me know if this helps.

This third answer is one I got on facebook. Thanks to Kfor reminding me of what is really important, and that is Emily, not her bedroom. I so appreciate how candid K was!!

Listen Heidi… No one understands this subject like me!!!!! Looking back, I have wasted so much time yelling and being angry at A when the hard truth is that at her age, it was my fault as a mom not hers as a child. It is hard. So hard. It’s better now because she can to take responsibilty for it but she still needs guidence. I only wish I was as organized as I expect my children to be. Take a deep breath, Heidi. Appologize to her if you need to and commit to giving both of you a break by working on it together.
And thank you for helping me think back on something that reminds me of why I changed the way I think if mothering. It’s the hardest job in the world and yet it’s fleeting… No regrets.
Saying a prayer for you as I send this…

Thanks friends for offering me advice and hope! Let me know if this helps you too!

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4 thoughts on “answers to my cry for help

  1. Heidi, I have something for you at my blog

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. **Sorry for the deleted comment above; I hate leaving typos!!**Your friends shared some wonderful advice! Fortunately my husband is a very 'tidy' person and I learned from him to keep everything in its place. Our kids have followed suit, praise God! Although Angel has a 'way too large' collection of stuffed animals and loves to keep every scrap of paper she has ever doodled on she is learning at the age of nine to keep it all in its proper place. :O)

  4. I don't have any advice to give, but I do have a funny story from my SIL. She works full-time and struggles to find time to clean the house. Usually on her one day off, she has the kids help clean and their biggest task is obviously to clean their room. Last spring, I remember her telling the story of her 9 year old son and how he cleaned his room superfast. Knowing something was up, she went to check it out and found that toys had been stuffed under the bed and in the closet. She explained to him that not only was this the oldest trick in the book, but also unacceptable. She gave him another chance to clean it the right way and said that when he finished up again, she'd double check him and whatever toys she found on the floor (or under the bed and closet, etc) she would put into a trash bag. For every toy in the trash bag, he would have to wait that many weeks to not only get the toy back, but also lost the priviledge of listening to his radio while falling asleep for the same amt of nights. (She says now that she should have picked a more realistic form of discipline, but she was desperate – and quite angry). Well, sure enough, he came out minutes later – she went to check – and I kid you not, she found enough matchbox cars and other random toys to put into that bag and he lost all radio priviledges for about 150 days or so!!! It was the craziest thing. She thought maybe 20 or 25 toys…. all those little things added up and after she told her husband what had happened he couldn't stop laughing. The thought of not letting Luke listen to the radio for six months seemed rather excessive for just not cleaning his room. (Like I said, she was REAALY mad at the son!) Anyway, needless to say, after about 3 weeks or him "sweating" it out, they decided to have mercy on him and told him that he could have his radio back after another week or two. We still tease her about it to this day….

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