Trying to clear out dd's room, but she won't get rid of ANYTHING! - Mothering Forums

 
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#1 of 21 Old 06-24-2003, 05:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry if this has been discussed befor. 8 y.o. dd's room has just been getting more and more out of control. It got to the point where the floor was completely covered and "stuff" was almost spilling out into the hallway. Dh is annoyed about it, and so am I. (Dd probably isn't very happy living in chaos, either.) But I figure we don't have the right to complain too much, since neither of us have ever shown her what we think a neat room looks like. And she's got an overwhelming amount of "stuff" and not enough places to put it all. Not to mention that I think it's not healthy for one little kid to have that much stuff. I prefaced our work together by explaining some of this to her. I told her we can't expect her to keep her room neat if she's got so much stuff and not enough places to put it, so how about we get rid of some of it.

So yesterday I completely emptied her room. I took the laundry basket and took load after load of toys, dolls, knick-knacs, books and clothes out to the livingroom. I left only the clothes in her drawers and hanging in the closet. We will not put anything back unless it's clear that she's keeping it.

I am being mindful of how traumatic it can be to have someone else, mother or no, sorting through your possessions with the intent of tossing a lot of it. And what I consider junk she considers precious. I'm being respectful of her and even thought she'd have some ideas of her own about what to get rid of, so I am trying keep her in the process. Actually, she did volunteer to get rid of some of her dress-up clothes.

But the vast majority of it she will not part with! And a lot of what I'm talking about are toys that she has not played with in more than a year. And this year's valentines! And a handful of yarn! And some broken doll furniture for a doll she doesn't have anymore! Maybe you get the idea.

Maybe she just doens't trust me yet. Of course, when she was littler I could just cull whatever I thought necessary. But when we moved last spring (she was 7 y.o.) some of her stuff just didn't make it to the new house. She went looking for some of it (some she still hasn't missed) and I explained that it went to Good Will. Well, I can't make unilateral decisions like that anymore! She was upset, and I felt bad. I learned my lesson.

I'm not sure if I'm asking for advice or just assurances that dd and I aren't alone here. Her father, his mother and grandmother are all moderate packrats. I'm thankful that it's not severe.

Anybody have similar experiences???

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#2 of 21 Old 06-24-2003, 07:57 PM
 
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I have an 8 yr old too. Yes! I know what you mean! I think they key to doing this is setting up a limit, i.e. 10 stuffed animals, 6 dress-up clothes, 10 dolls, 1 set of play dishes, 5 MDC Happy Meal toys, etc.
Also, no broken toys can be kept UNLESS she can fix them herself (with a little help but you get the meaning). That is just a limit she has to deal with. I'm mom I make the rules.

Those might sound like really low limits but it works...it forces her to really think about what she plays with.

Good luck!

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#3 of 21 Old 06-24-2003, 10:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Also, no broken toys can be kept UNLESS she can fix them herself (with a little help but you get the meaning).
I love that! Thanks for your ideas. We worked on the pile in the living room more this afternoon. I have to admit, I did sumarily take one bag of rubbish out to the garbage bin. I just didn't say anything.

I think it's the whining and the drama that gets to me. And this applies to all aspects of my relationship with dd. If I can tolerate (ignore) that and be firm and fair, perhaps this will all work out.

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#4 of 21 Old 06-24-2003, 10:35 PM
 
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I just had this issue with my 7 yr old son. I ha doffered to help him several times. We were going to be doing some childcare, and it needed to be cleaned up, so I told him that I was going to clean it- if he wanted to help he was welcome to, but that if he chose not to he coudl not decide what stayed and what went.
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#5 of 21 Old 06-24-2003, 10:50 PM
 
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Can you have her make a "maybe" box(es)? Things she doesn't want to get rid of, but really doesn't have any good reason to keep it? Then you two can make a deal: you'll hang onto the box for ___ months/weeks/whatever and in that time period whatever she hasn't needed/wanted in that time period gets taken to goodwill? I sort of do this now with my clothes. No box, but I go through everything and say 'have I used this in 6 months?' of course seasonal clothes/stuff I don't chuck with that rule but other stuff I do, only reserving a few precious items.

Maybe a memory box as well? Something smaller, like shoebox sized for the little papers/'junk' that is really special for her? It could be stashed in the top of her closet (if she's anything like me she hates to get RID of things, but forgets they are there!)

I agree with the 'it must be fixed' rule. Sounds like a good one to me too! If its something you KNOW she finds really truly precious (a first toy, ect) then perhaps offer to help with that?

I don't know if she has a good majority of stuffed animals/dolls (I'm guessing yes, but no clue maybe she's more into board games ) then one of those hammock looking corner hanging storage thingies would be great to store lots of those in...

Make a collage of the valentines? Then it can hang on the wall instead of just being paper junk she doesn't get to enjoy....

Me and Dh each have inexpensive rolling filing cabinets that get turned into our own personal junk drawers (ok I do have our taxes and other important papers filed in mine with the junk!)... Maybe get her one of those for papers and tiny things (and maybe put that yarn in a plastic baggy and throw it in...). It would make it easier for her to keep track of/have storage for her things then....

Lets see... Oh yeah! When I shared a room with one of my great friends she had those plastic coated metal flat square mesh panels you can put together however you want with little wheel looking things on the corners. It was a serious lifesaver to us!

Oh yeah baskets are wonderful things too! I can usually get a good variety at goodwill or whatnot too... big floor ones, littler ones (that would fit well in the plastic cubby thing, or on a dresser, or buy one of those cheap put it together yourself mini bookshelf you can get at Target for like $20-$40).

I haven't had any personal experience with my own children having too much junk yet (considering our first is still in utero and couldn't fit anything in there with him if he wanted to!) but I have lots of experience in fitting all my 'junk' into small spaces, and cheaply! So I hope that helps and lots and LOTS of luck getting thru the process! I think its great that you're at least trying to get your DD involved so she doesn't feel out of control.... hopefully she can team up with you and get rid of some of that stuff!

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#6 of 21 Old 06-24-2003, 11:23 PM
 
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Well, if this isn't my almost 8 y/o, I don't know what is!!! I am not sure I have any advice, but I just wanted to get in on this! My dd has more stuffed animals than I know what to do with. She also has the following toys organized in various ways: my niece's collection of My Pretty Pony, Barbies and their 9000 shoes, their furniture and some pets, a farm set, baby dolls and THIER clothes, beautiful dress up clothes, a doll cradle, at least 2 baskets of misc., which includes the gemstones, the yarn, the old watch, you get the idea. This does not even touch on the BOOKS and ART PROJECTS...this child generates at least 5 pieces of "must save" artwork PER DAY!! She wants to save every scrap of notes to me, tracings, coloring pages...
We homeschool, so she certainly plays with her toys and does lovely artwork. But, I too, struggle with how to help her get rid of things. She will say to me, "I can't get rid of that. I made that the day I lost my first tooth" WHAT??
I do give her lots of containers and those plastic sets of drawers for Barbie and her crap (sorry!) We also have one for art supplies in the dining room.
One thing my husband and I have started doing for ourselves is when one thing comes in, one thing goes out. These toys by the way are not all things we bestow on her, they are gifts from her aunts and hand me down type things. We also go vertical- one tall bookshelf in her room for books, dolls, some baskets, it is very useful. How about a toy sale where she shares in the profits- just be absolutely sure about what she is selling. We did this and dd started crying after a certain doll was sold ( she had agreed to it and it had been in the basket ALL DAY)...she said the doll looked like "Nana".
I hope you don't mind my chiming in! Please some of you experienced mothers help us!

~Joan, Happy mom to 2 beautiful kiddos, one new puppy and 2 lovely felines
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#7 of 21 Old 06-25-2003, 01:24 AM
 
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I second whoever said to store it with the intention of sorting later. I do that a lot. I pack up stuff for charity and tell myself that I'll keep it for a month and if I don't miss it by then, it's outta here. VERY rarely have I opened the bag back up and fished something out (I think I did it once!).

So maybe try sorting with her and then ask her which things she wants to store. Tell her you're not giving or throwing it out, but you'd like to put some things in storage. Then have her sort out which things are too "precious" to toss, but not important enough to have in the room right now. Then in a few months you can go through the stuff and see if suddenly some precious items have become junk

Also have you explained what the Good Will stuff is for? I've explained to my dd that some kids don't have any toys and ask if she has anything to pass on so they can have things to play with. Maybe if she thinks of it that way she might give up a few more things. Maybe not. I'm happy we're still at the age where I can cull things on a regular basis without her noticing :LOL
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#8 of 21 Old 06-25-2003, 01:39 AM
 
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for art work take a picture of it. Start a scrap book. Now a huge peice of work has been reduced to 3 1/2 x 5. Also things like letters, notes, valentine cards etc. . can go in the scrap book.

definitely sort, limit and stach away uintil it has been forgotton.

We also havce a rule at our house "If you treat it like garbage I will throw it away. If you treat it like you love it I will treat it with the same respect you do." So it doesn't matter how special she says her 10th glitter project of the day is. If it is under the table like some peice of garbage out it goes. Every now and then when her room is a dump and she gets an attituted about cleaning it I have to offer up a sacrificial lamb. I pick somehting i know is special off the floor and say "This looks like garbage just laying here covered in crap. " "No mom!! don't throw it away. you know that is special to me" " Well you are treating it like garbage. what happens to garbage?" "pleeeeeeeese, no" "Youhave 30 minutes to get al your dirty clothes picked up and all your babies put away and then I will reconsider" We keep on like that until her room is clean. Occaisionally she just chooses to let me throw stuff away rather than get off her butt and clean. Her choice. Once I start thowing I don't stop until her room is clean. If she whines whithout getting up to help I move faster. if you can't take care of your stuff there is no reason to have it.

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#9 of 21 Old 06-25-2003, 01:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ooooh, thank you, all of you! These are all great ideas. I'm especially glad to see dd isn't the only one who collects little bits and objects and things that are uncatagorizable (except as "crap").

Please, anybody, feel free to add more. Even just your stories or comiserations.

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#10 of 21 Old 06-25-2003, 02:03 PM
 
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Haven't read all responses, so forgive me if I repeat something.

First, we should all keep in mind how we would feel if somebody demanded the same of us. You may all be perfectly organized minimalists, but I have drawers and boxes full of stuff that I think I should be allowed to go through in my own time, and decide what I think is valuable and what is not regardless of what anyone else thinks. Isn't it, at base, really a control issue? I mean, who is it hurting, really, especially if it's her own space that is a mess? Is anyone concerned that their children will feel some sense of violation at having their personal belongings gone through and thrown away by someone else?

Okay, that said, I do the same as Lilyka and if there is anything on the floor of our mutual living space while I'm cleaning, I give fair warning and if they don't pick it up, in the trash it goes. I also sneak things away that they don't play with -- however they haven't so far formed deep personal attachments to many things, and don't seem to notice or particularly care when I do this. If they do seem to have an attachment to something, I don't touch it.

One suggestion -- maybe talk to her about "needy children" and ask if she's interested in sharing some of her wealth (by taking stuff to the goodwill)? That's non-threatening, and often the sort of project that kids that age can really get into. Or -- storing stuff and agreeing that if she doesn't think of something specific that she wants to play with in the stored stuff in an agreed upon time frame, that it goes to the goodwill. I do this with myself, with stuff I don't use but irrationally can't bring myself to get rid of. After a while I even forget what's in the boxes -- how important could the stuff be if I can't even remember it?
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#11 of 21 Old 06-29-2003, 03:03 AM
 
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Put this in the mess and smoke it... My daughter keeps a lot of things too, and I throw it out. On the issue of respect: I have respect for her things, her desires, her creativity. I also have respect for her ability to mature and let go of excessive material possessions. I try as much as I can to let her keep what she wants. But sometimes I have been working hard to clean the house, make a nice place for us to live, and I see her room, and I just start throwing stuff away. When her room is clean, she likes it and she thanks me, and she does not notice that some of her stuff is thrown away. when she asks me for something I threw away, I say I have no idea where it is now, and I don't. It's not that I'm mean , it's that we are a family and we have to respect eachother. I respect her. I let her keep more than I want her to. She respects that I work hard to keep the house thae way it is and I choose what stays/goes. (She does not clean) Besides, the stuff is a burden to her even though she wants it. Don't know if this helps...
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#12 of 21 Old 06-29-2003, 07:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yasodra- that's been pretty much my philosphy. And in action, we probably look the same. But dd is 8 y.o now. I want her to clean her own room now, with in reason. I'm still responsible to provide places to put things, like boxes and bins. I'd dearly like to get her a desk. But she is capable of making her own bed and keeping her floor clear and dresser top clear. I have been doing these things for her, when I get around to it. And it's just been making me angry with her. That's not fair to either of us.

It's done now, for the most part. I ended up doing most of it myself, much like you described, Yasodra. I took 4 or 5 bags of garbage out, that she may never miss. She's still got quite a bit of "stuff" (jewelry, dolls, school projects) that I didn't have time to sort or toss properly, However, everything remaining is put away in some sort of box and is tucked away either in her closet or under her bed. Her room is wonderfully neat and clean! It's very pleasant and I find excuses to go in there. And she loves it, too. It's been 5 days and it's still neat.

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#13 of 21 Old 07-06-2003, 06:54 PM
 
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This is a great thread!

What works for us is flylady.net.

She taught me to set the timer for 15 minutes.
We pick a job, whether it's folding and putting away clean laundry, drying the dishes, culling the goodies from a box of papers.....and do it for 15 minutes. Every day, 6 days a week.

That way I feel like the kids helped me....and they don't feel overwhelmed.

It is overwhelming to be a kid. I NEVER had this many toys. I NEVER had this many art supplies. I NEVER generated this much paper at school (let alone bringing every single scrap home the way kids do now!)

If I can get overwhelmed by my junk in my house my kids surely will feel the same!

Of course I'm not perfect, sometimes I get a little mad and a little mean....but in general this 15 minute thing really helps us.

Take the time to heal from your marriage before you move on with someone else. Make a list of all the qualities you would like in a new partner and then work on growing that way yourself. ~mandib50
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#14 of 21 Old 07-06-2003, 06:56 PM
 
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PS I think you have to be specific no matter how old they are. "Clean your room" is too much for a lot of kids.
Giving a specific chore, or a few of them for the right personality, works better. A list helps some kids.

Take the time to heal from your marriage before you move on with someone else. Make a list of all the qualities you would like in a new partner and then work on growing that way yourself. ~mandib50
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#15 of 21 Old 07-06-2003, 10:10 PM
 
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My dd is only 6 and already has way too much stuff. We go through it often, but family members keep piling it on! She is the only child on my mom's side of the family-so everyone gives her presents. I don't want to seem ungrateful, but I start getting rid of stuff weeks before Christmas to make way for what I know will be coming. I have talked to them many times, but no one seems to listen very much. One year, I gave all the cousins gift certificates to do things, like children's museums, etc. I thought it would help-maybe they would get some ideas from it-but they didn't.
Sorry a bit off topic.

When my dd was 3, I had a bag of stuff out by the curb for Good Will. The bag was white and she could see this big plastic bus that a neighbor had given her(that she never played with!) through the plastic. I told her we had to give some things away and Good will was coming to get it. A few days later-she came up to me and asked, "Who is Good Wil and why does he get my bus?
I was very amused by that one.
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#16 of 21 Old 07-08-2003, 11:54 AM
 
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I saw this and had to add a comment. We have a good friend (Cydney) who is 8 yrs old and NEVER throws anything away. Her mom finally convinced her to give some stuff to my DD (who is 4 1/2) and loved everything she got. (old Sesame Street magazines, a bicycle, clothes, books, etc). There were 2 garbage bags full. Cydney's mom also took a cheap disposable camera and small cheap photo album and let her DD take pictures of all the stuff so she could have a keepsake. This way, she would never forget it. She has photos of all her clothes, toys, etc. Now when she sees my DD in one of her old outfits, she gets very excited.

ust a thought - the pictue and album idea is great!! I will keep it in mind for my kids.
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#17 of 21 Old 07-08-2003, 07:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It is overwhelming to be a kid. I NEVER had this many toys. I NEVER had this many art supplies. I NEVER generated this much paper at school (let alone bringing every single scrap home the way kids do now!)
That is so right on. I'm 35 y.o. and come from a family that was "comfortable". I just don't remember having all this stuff. That's a big reason why it got out of control like that. #1, it's been growing gradually since she was born and I didn't recognize it for what it was. #2, when I did realize her room was out of control there was no way I could just tell her to "go clean your room". It was much to big of a job.

It's been 2 weeks and her room is still neat and in order. I can remind her to make her bed and hang up her towel in the bathroom, and that's it! Her room is back in shape. She doesn't cry and complain when I remind her, because it's an easy job.

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#18 of 21 Old 07-09-2003, 11:29 AM
 
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Also I forget if I mentioned this above...if my kids have too many toys I don't let them have access to them all at the same time. I let them have a finite amount of toys available and others may be boxed up in the attic or wherever works for your family.

Take the time to heal from your marriage before you move on with someone else. Make a list of all the qualities you would like in a new partner and then work on growing that way yourself. ~mandib50
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#19 of 21 Old 07-19-2003, 03:34 AM
 
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Ya, my kids are gone for a weekend at grandpa's and tomorrow is the day that I have set aside to purge the rooms, especially dd7's pigpen. I've done it before in private but even I find it hard to get rid of good stuff. I see myself throwing a little shoe in the bag and I have a need to find the other one and line up, or otherwise organize the tiny shoes Snap out of it! She has SO much from dfamily gifts! She has never complained before when I've cleared house and usually thanks me. It's too much of a burden on the little people and then we are naggin' about the state of the room and choking hazards, etc. She obviously cant take care of it and christmas is only 6 months away....I know the relatives love her but they dont realize the impact that over doing it every year has on her life? I guess that I'll just have to be tuffer and chuck more but I feel bad sometimes because someone thought of her and got this thing for her 6 months ago and I'm chuckin' it, makes me feel guilty. I ask people not to send so much, any ideas?
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#20 of 21 Old 07-20-2003, 02:17 PM
 
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This is a problem for us too - thanks ladies for all the great suggestions! We are using flylady's 15 minute timer and the 27 fling boogie to help get through the kid-clutter. We do it together.

However, I am especially mindful not to just take control of the situation and start throwing/giving things away (much as I want to!). This was a HUGE issue with my mother, who would go through my room and take away my things whenever she pleased. It created many years of hurt and resentment for me, well into my adult years.

A child's room is his. I feel strongly that kids need to have a space over which they have control. That doesn't mean that they can be slobs. And we can do some creative rule-making (you can't buy another floor toy until you give one away or put it in storage, or whatever). But taking over their room and deciding what is important just seems wrong in so many ways to me. I wouldn't do it with my husband's stuff, so it makes sense to me not to do it with my kids' stuff either.

Carolyn
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#21 of 21 Old 07-20-2003, 04:15 PM
 
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So, I did the big clean-up yesterday--all day (after bfing and playing with ds 1 yo) I wasnt as bad as I wanted to be and took the advise of putting some stuff away in the closet. I'm going to make a little index card of whats in there ..barbies, litebrite, puzzles...if no one asks for them they go before x-mas. I have to say that I am very observant of what gets used and would never chuck anything that someone loved or even looked at! I may even put check marks on the card when the stuff comes out...most of the offending stuff has a million tiny bits that get spilled and no one will pick up....my room is next!!
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Most users ever online was 449,755, 06-25-2014 at 12:21 PM.