I’ve gotten some interesting feedback from my post about teaching children about hoarding.  I wrote how I felt I am failing my daughter by not coaching her on better organizational habits earlier.

You Responded!

I was delighted to read your comments!  Thank you to all who took the time to leave a note on the blog or email me in person.  You were all reassuring that I haven’t ruined my kids just yet!  Phew! There’s still time to teach them about personal organization!

Knee Jerk Reaction

I suppose I’m being extra cautious.  Living so close to someone with a mental illness makes you paranoid (wait, isn’t that a mental condition too??? ).  Perhaps it’s similar to those with an alcoholic parent and forbidding their own children to ever toast with wine at holiday dinners.  I’m probably being hyper-sensitive, but I know I’ve read in several places that compulsive hoarding can be hereditary.  Diabetes also strongly runs in the family…some future I’ve got facing me, huh?

Nature vs Nuture

Genetics aside, I think learned behavior goes a long way.   I don’t want to go overboard and insist on unattainable perfection.  I can’t maintain that myself anyway.  But if I can begin to instill the proper techniques for organizing personal space, encouraging attachment to people instead of objects, and how to begin and finish any project, then I think I’ll be giving my girls some great life skills.  And hey, it doesn’t hurt to practice them myself, right?  I’m sure Will would agree, as he eyes my creatively chaotic craft room.

Your Suggestions for Teaching Kids About Personal Organization

You had some great ideas for helping kids learn about organizing, and learning how to let go of treasured toys.

  • take photos of toys before donating them, and put photos in an album to preserve their memory
  • designate a set number of keepers.  Let them choose which keepers, but don’t go past the number.
  • designate a box for toys and don’t let it go past the top.  If it doesn’t fit the box, it can’t stay.
  • trim pieces from favourite blankets, clothing, or stuffed animals and sew them into a memory quilt or pillow (careful this doesn’t add to your own long list of projects *cough*)
  • Remind them of children less fortunate, and encourage a social conscience.

Feel free to keep sending your ideas, and I’ll add them to this list.  I’m sure I’m not the only parent in this boat.

I also just came across the Overindulgence website.  It discusses dealing with spoiled children, the feeling of entitlement some kids seem to have, and gives a few ideas about giving chores.

My own purge continues

Going back to my craft room for a minute, I worked on clearing that room out, too.  Yes, I’ve been on a purging kick the last 2 months and it’s feeling great.  I didn’t realize exactly HOW great until I sat down at my sewing machine and did a quick little project.  I mentioned this to another creative kindred spirit, my best friend, and she said “Rae, I think that’s how we feed our soul.”

How we feed our soul.  Yes.  Yes, I think that’s it.

And because my craft room is the dumping ground for when we don’t know where else to put something, I had crowded out my opportunity to feed my soul. And I was starving.  Funny how having too much can make you feel so empty.

Have you carved out a space all your own?  How do you keep it clear for spontaneous use?  I’d love to hear about it!

In case you’re wondering, Mom is still without a phone.  We’ve not spoken since I saw her about 3 weeks ago.  That seems like a long time to go without hearing from your mother, doesn’t it?


  1. Lynn
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rae, I read your latest post and found myself snickering about your comment “And because my craft room is the dumping ground for when we don’t know where else to put something” That’s where I sleep when I come for a visit!


    • Rae
      Posted August 25, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

      Hehehe, because of you I’m going to have to clear out a table or two soon.

  2. KfromGray
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    If I solve the issue of keeping the crafting area clear for spontaneous use I’ll let you know. I usually need to wade in and boot the kids toys, future project stack and paper pile off my sewing station. I’ve often thought that having a designated room would solve that issue, but I suspect it would likely be another cluttered hot spot.

    That said, I’m going to make a more consistent effort to feed my soul on a weekly basis. The project list will thank me 🙂


    • Rae
      Posted August 25, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      Ha, a designated room isn’t always the answer. It’s great to hide everything behind a closed door, but then again, it’s a bad thing, too.

      And please, DO be sure to feed your soul. 🙂

  3. Janet
    Posted October 1, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    My daughter on the other hand may have a problem… I just came across your site, it’s great! My mom was/is a hoarder. At one point there were two places to sit, the toilet and the computer chair. One burner on her stove to cook on, she sleeps sideways on her bed because there is so much “stuff” on it. I need help with my daughter. She gets mad when I suggest she might have a problem. She likes to buy clothes, boots, shoes, scarves, stuff! She’s run out of room, and now she’s off to college and it’s only a month in and her college dorm is stuffed!! I tried reading up on teenage clutter and back then all I could find was “let teens be teens.” This is beyond being a messy teen. I could go in there right now and organize and clean, but then she’ll come home on a break and feel like I got rid of her stuff, violated her. What should I do?

    • Rae
      Posted October 4, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for sharing your story, Janet. Does your daughter only collect apparel, or does it cross into other categories, too? Is she aware her grandmother is a hoarder? If so, what’s her response to that?

  4. Posted December 15, 2012 at 4:38 am | Permalink

    I’m so glad I came across this site. My mom is a narcissist, my dad was an addict and a philanderer. It took years to sort through their crap and now that I’m a wife & mom I thought I’d put all that behind me….. Well I’ve just realized that my mom is a hoarder and I have hoarder tendencies — my child loves Grandma & wants to visit, but I don’t want her thinking that it’s an acceptable way to live.

    My house becomes a mess, and every few months I declutter, but I am realizing that while it’s pretty tame now, I dont want my child dealing with an elderly hoarder like generations before her….
    So what to do? I feel like this is the type of thing we always think we have under control until the camera crew shows up.

    I actually want to get therapy so that I can nip this in the bud.

    Anyway your site has me thinking a little differently about things and I just want to thank you anad encourage you to keep it up!

    • Rae
      Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for your comments, Junebug. You’re not destined to the same fate. The big difference here is that you have self-awareness, something a full-fledged hoarder lacks. It might always be something to struggle against, but it doesn’t mean you’ll develop the mental disorder. Maybe for the new year, we should both consider setting some more frequent decluttering goals!

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