Oh boy. We’ve been having a fun summer break so far, but it hasn’t been all play. I’m enforcing the “No Screentime Until” rules, most days, and it’s working fairly well. Luke has embraced it, because he is my child, and loves following a list. Natalie, on the other hand, moans and groans at it. Every. Single. Time. But I do realize she is only 5 years old, so I have lower expectations for her. The success with Luke more than makes up for it.
Here’s the thing… I am a recovering hoarder and I’m fairly certain that the tendency for hoarding is genetic. I have unfortunately passed this on to my children, and I am on a mission to reverse the effects and teach my kids early on to overcome it. So far this summer we’ve accomplished some MAJOR de-cluttering in this house. It’s been primarily in the kids’ rooms, but I’ve done my share in other areas too.
Last week we took everything out of Luke’s room and dumped it all on the living room rug. Then we cleaned his room and rearranged some furniture (at his request). Then Luke went through everything that was out in the living room, deciding what he wanted to keep and what he wanted to get rid of, keeping in mind that he could only keep what would fit comfortably back in his room. This was a huge job, folks, but he loved seeing the transformation in his room. And now he has easy access to the toys he uses most, and it’s so much easier for him to keep his room clean. He recognizes this new reality very clearly, which I think at age 8 is no small miracle.
The process worked so well for Luke, a couple days later I tried it with Natalie. Did I mention she’s 5? Yeah, it didn’t go nearly as well with her, because as soon as she spotted a toy she hadn’t seen in awhile, she immediately wanted to play with it. So while she played, I sorted through her things, trashing obvious junk and sorting the rest into categories. She does well with categories, and does a decent job of keeping similar things together. I still have a few tubs/baskets of Natalie’s things to sort and organize, but we will get to it. Eventually. I’m just happy right now to be able to walk through her room to kiss her goodnight.
When all was said and done, we were able to donate a trunk full of toys to the kids’ pre-school, and several bags of clothing and assorted toys to the local recycling service (to be re-used). I am so proud of both of the kids, but especially Luke. He and I are so similar in so many ways, so I understand his struggles with keeping his room neat and parting with cherished items. I still remember my bedroom from high school days – it was a disaster – and I do not want him growing up with the same terrible habits.
I am 37 and have yet to really conquer my hoarding habits. I have come a long way, yes, but I still feel like I’m managing. They say an addict is always an addict, even if they’ve managed to stay clean (figuratively AND literally, in this case). The temptation and draw is always there. But these kids, they are still young, and they are still forming habits. Now is the time to instill the good habits, so that they grow up to be adults who will naturally pick up after themselves and say no to buying things they don’t need or have space for. Sound too neurotic? Maybe. But this is important, people! I am doing this for their future roommates and spouses! Someday, someone will thank me!!