Sunday, January 31, 2010

Productivity and "I'm a Hoarder"

So today was my first day back in the cleaning mindset. I don't feel particularly well, so I didn't do a whole lot. We also had church in the AM, so I didn't get home until 1pm, and then in the evening at 6pm (it usually starts at 7), so time was really tight today.

Anyway, now that I'm done making excuses, let's talk about what I got done today. The house is overwhelmingly bad right now. It looks like a tornado and his cousin went through here! Instead of being overwhelmed, I tried to work on the little things. I picked up the bazillion colored pencils that are scattering the playroom floor. I ran a load of dishes through the dishwasher. I did a load of laundry. I straightened up the papers and wrapping paper trash that was all over the floor of the living room. Cups and plates finally left the living room. It's far from perfect, but it's a start. There is a whole lot to get finished in the coming days and though I didn't make but a miniscule dent in the nastiness that is my house, it did serve to put me in the mindset of cleaning.

I'm a Hoarder

In case you haven't already discovered this, were it not for my husband, I would be a rampant hoarder. I don't know why; it's the way my brain works. I don't WANT to throw away ANYTHING. I hate doing it! I keep papers, clothes, toys, etc. Some of you have mentioned that scaling down the play room would definitely help with the clutter... why have I defended all of the toys? Because it breaks my heart to get rid of anything! Levi just broke his first guitar the other day. I remember when he got it for his 2nd birthday and how happy he was. He opened his presents with scissors that year because, well, he wanted to! We went to Chilis and he got chicken and a giant volcano desert. See what memories are attached to these things?? Well, I didn't want to throw it away, despite the fact that it was broken. But I let my husband do it.

Recently one of those giant balls from walmart got trapped under the recliner and popped. Throw it away, right? Wrong! I wanted to cut a piece off for Levi's scrapbook. I didn't get around to it and hubby said he was going to throw it away if I didn't do it. I hid it in an end table! Why? I don't know... but he found it, I cut off a piece, and he threw the rest away.

Why did I want to keep it? Because a memory was attached to it. Levi picked out that ball one day at Wal Mart when he was about 18 months old. I remember him walking through the whole store with it in his arms. He never let go of it despite the fact that it was bigger than he was!

Anyway, this mindset is part of why my house is so daggone cluttered and gross. I can't throw anything away... it just breaks my heart to do so. I have so much crap that I just can't bear to trash. I know that the road to a clean house includes decluttering and getting rid of things. But sometimes it's very hard... and not just because I don't want to get rid of stuff.

One day I actually did bring up a ton of toys to list on craigslist. My mother-in-law stopped by and said something about all the toys in the living room. I told her that I was going to sell most of them. She said oh no! If you're doing that then I need to buy some of those!

Why? Because SHE'S a mini-hoarder! And she enables my hoarding! I love my mother-in-law, but my husband and I both agree that someday we're going to have a ton to go through and we'll have a lot of questions as to "why on earth is this here??" I don't want my children to have to go through that, so I'm recognizing this part of me and what I could become. I'm nipping it in the bud... or at least trying to!


  1. I understand the emotional attachment to your childrens things. I really do. To fight this in my own life I keep one 40gallon tub in the attic with their baby clothes and toys that I couldn't part with. My cedar chest is also full of papers and really special oufits. The rest had to go. I donate it, all the while telling myself that another child is going to get to make memories with it.

    Think about the memories you can make in a clean house. They can have their freinds over without embarassment. They can spread out and make the best train track ever. You can have birthday parties and sleepovers, etc. Thats what your kids want, not the toy they got three Christmas's ago that they don't even play with anymore.

    Let the stuff go and let another child enjoy it. It's okay. You are not going to forget the first birthday or 2nd Christmas memory. Take a picture to remind you and then concentrate on making new memories.

  2. i can SO relate. i have 6 kids, they are 3-24 in age, and i HATE to let go of stuff.i found that snapshots of them enjoying the toys, or clothes they wore help. i have a problem with paper stuff they make at school, cute things that can never be replaced, like their 1st attempt at drawing "mommy", etc.i kind of throw those in shoe boxes, bag them, and put away for 'someday" i actually get so sad to look at those things, life slips by so hurts real hard to put away a favorite baby toy, i hated to throw out the gummy, rotten THATS bad, LOL!

  3. So glad you are keeping the blog! I understand about not wanting to part with your children's things. I was blessed with an only, so it has been hard to part with her childhood. The suggestion about pictures was great! You should take that into consideration. My daughter is 17 and I only kept a few outfits from her first year (including her very first bathing suit :)) and a couple of her first toys that I KNEW she was attached to. She really wasn't much on toys-she preferred arts and crafts-but there is one ratty teddy and a first baby doll that she loved. Then I made a scrapbook for her first 4 years of school. After that, school papers became a little less charming and so I just kept final report cards and awards; maybe a few pieces of art. All of her momentos fit in my hope chest. OOPS, forgot about her American Girl dolls. She still displays those in her room (this makes me deliriously happy :)) so no need to store them. I would never get rid of them; they were ridiculously expensive (that's why she only got 3). Anyway, I hope this helps. But really, pull out that camera and capture those memories in a less cluttery way! It will be worth it!

    Sorry for the long post-one more thing. It always helped me to think about a natural disaster. What precious items would I want to save.....

  4. I have a hard time with this too. Right now I need to tackle the basement and the kids' playroom. They are both completely out of control. Oh and laundry? ugh. I keep finding things I forgot I had, and I don't feel like I can get rid of anything until it's alllll clean so I see what we actually have!

  5. Award!

  6. Awww, I have hoarding tendencies too, so I can completely relate!!

    My MIL is the complete opposite: she actually throws probably too much out! And gets very narky with me if I don't...

    But to me, things like trinkets etc once they are thrown out you can never get them back. This means I still have pretty much every single trinket I have ever owned. :-O And I have a place for every single one.


  7. Yes! You really hit the nail on the head. I have gotten better about this just lately, not feeling like I have to keep everything, but there is a lot of struggle because of the memory attached.

    I helped my MIL straighten up on of her basements a few years ago. She inherited the house from her mom and it was too overwhelming for her to sort her mom's things so she boxed them up and stuck them in the basement. Then her brother died, she inherited his house (next door to her mom's!) and boxed up his stuff, into the basement.

    It's three families worth of clutter, since she doesn't throw ANYTHING away, and now she has two full basements, two full attics, two full garages, and two stuffed to the gills paid storage units. She rents out the living space for the second house, but they get no storage. When she dies, it is going to be so, so hard for my husband (an only child) to sort through all that mess.

    She blames the stuff on everyone else, that no one will help her, but even when I've tried to help, she has to touch *every single thing* and thinks it all has value. She wouldn't throw away a half used bottle of Pepto Bismol from 1984, expired before her mom died, because she thought the bottle might be collectible. And there is truly valuable stuff mixed in with junk mail from the 70's. It's excruciating.

    I don't want to be like that. I don't want the stuff to have that kind of control in my life. The plastic ball isn't the memory, and the memory won't go away just because you don't have the plastic ball. I have to tell myself that with everything! I have been sorting and purging and ruthlessly letting go of things my formerly hoarding mind would want to keep for sentimental reasons. My kids have baby books. There are lots of pictures. I kept a few really sentimental things, like the outfits they came home from the hospital in, and then let it go, let it go, let it go.

    Wow, wrote a book there! You sparked something for me, haha.