Tuesday, October 6, 2009

day one of "operation: no more toys"

So my #2 son is a packrat. A mess of disorganization. An I-want-to-keep-every-single-paper-I've-ever-come-in-contact-with hoarder of hoarders. He's also a lover of art supplies, trains, dinosaurs, blocks, and many many other itty bitty toys. And although he plays with them very well, he's not so great at the clean-up.

After merely 5 minutes alone in his room, it looks like a bomb has gone off.

Changed and disgarded clothing litter the floor. Books fall out of the book case and strewn about. His art supplies have been opened, dabbled with, and left.










Oh my, that kid. Every piece of mail he's ever received, every picture he's ever kept, every school paper, piece of art, or otherwise--he must keep it all. Except it's not like he has a perfect place for everthing. Most of it gets stacked up on his dresser, which is impressive since his dresser holds a 15 gallon fish tank and hardly has room for anything else.

Finally yesterday, I came to my breaking point. At once again finding his room in complete disarray, I told him that I'd be taking away his toys for a week. All his toys. Every single thing until he could learn to appreciate them and take care of them and for-the-love-of-all-that-is-holy, learn how to put them away.

So whilst the kids were at school today, I cleaned and tossed and organized and bundled and pretty much emptied out his room. Out went the toy box, his two art boxes, 3 boxes of legos, his crate full of paper, 3 giant tonka trucks, and one 4-foot tall bear. I went thru all his papers, pictures, and treasures and kept those I felt he could and should keep, organized the books, and straightened out his closet. The toys, etc went to their own special shelf in the garage. Looks like a stinkin' toy store out there.

His room looks so good, I loathe the idea of stuff coming back!

On the way home from school, I warned him that his room was going to look a bit different. I actually left his books, blocks, and dinosaurs up for him, in the hopes that with less choices he'd make less messes.

Within one hour of him being home, the dinosaurs were taken away too. What can I say, he's not learning fast, that's for sure.

My 10 year old says I'm being super mean to Cameron. But I promise that this won't last forever, that as Cameron proves he can keep a tidy room and put things away, I will slowly let him reclaim his toys and other contraband.

Have you ever done this? Tell me about your experiences. How long before you gave toys back? Did you give in? Give early parole for good behavior?


tif-do said...

I've actually went in and thrown a ton of stuff away, so I think your being pretty nice for putting it away for awhile. Your doing a good job mom!

jinxi~ aka angi said...

Actually YES! Hunter is the sameeee way!!!! I had a horrible blow up one night and I dragged the entire toy box out onto the deck .. toys were flying!!! and.. Justice {the older one} started bawling because he thought I was so mean. I kept his toys away for 2 weeks. He didnt really seem to care. Ugh.. so finally after about a year of going through all this.. I bought the big drawer like storage units and seperated everything out and organized into the drawers. Now at least the toys/legos are in a drawer and not on the floor.. so even if its not organized* its put away to where I cant see it. :) Hope that helps! Hang in there!!!

Teri said...

I have given my kids a time frame to clean their room maybe an hour.... and whatever is left on the floor or not in its right place is taken away to goodwill ( unless I just cant stand to get rid of it) This way you see whats really important to them and you dont have to keep reminding them.. you better clean that up... you forgot some stuff under your bed....ect

*lindsey said...

When you figure it out, let me know, because I have a hoarder too. I just went through the other day and threw away a ton of junk without telling him. I thought he wouldn't notice, but he did. I'm sorry Blake, I didn't realize how important that carpet cleaning promotional magnet was to you...

leaner said...

Yes, we purge often. And my dad? He used to clean our rooms with garbage bags. Only one time did it immediately go in the trash. But it DID NOT HELP US LEARN, I am sad to say that. As I continue on in his grand tradition. Sigh.

Margee' said...

Yep! I did this when my girls were small. We lived in single wide 12 X 60 mobile with 3 girls in the same room.
They would not keep their toys picked up, so I boxed them and my husband locked them in the shed for 6 months.
That worked and they were very good about it until they were teenagers with their own rooms.
Just make sure as they outgrow toys to give them to some kids have have alot less! That's what I did each year just before Christmas.

Anonymous said...

I think all moms struggle with these issues! I have taken the toys away a few times and they don't even miss them! What's up with that? Right now my two "darlings" are grounded on a day to day basis, not for toys more just for not picking up after themselves! Urghh.....

Casey Lu said...

Morgan is my hoarder and I go through this constantly with her. I have finally gotten to the point that what is on the floor and not kept up or put away including clothes will NO LONGER be in the house because I am tired of my room being the catch all for everything. So when I am tired of stepping on things when I tuck her in at night, if it is not cleaned up by the end of the weekend (as we seriously don't have the time on the weekday evenings)then it all will be donated to Goodwill. And I have done it and will be doing it again shortly!

With Donovan, he pretty much keeps his room kept a lot better than Morgan but not near what I would like to see. But, he doesn't play with ANY toys he may have and usually the toy mess is because of Morgan going through his stuff. But, I have taken things out of his room for behavior that I will not tolerate and some in fact have been out of his room for a couple of months and had to be earned back by doing a certain amount of "Service" for someone else. I have given in before and things got worse so now, I don't give in not a single inch otherwise they expect me to give a foot!

Suzanne said...

My daughter had the same problem. However, as is true in most cases... It was never solved when *i* did the clean-up.

I waited for the weekend. I did not allow jemma to see her friends, have snacks, read(we don't allow t.v.) play outside or do *anything* i told her that anything on the floor must be donated. If she couldn't respect her things enough then they must be given to someone who does. I lent her a label maker and had purcased some storage bins. I let her decide how to organize.

It took the entire weekend. I let her know that if i ever found another item on the floor, it would be donated.

That was a year ago. To this day her room is always spotless.

*doing* the thing is not helpful. But involving the child, making them responsible is both possible...and very important.

Items come and go in life. But a lesson learned is forever.

Kathy said...

Maybe it is time as parents not to load our children with toys that we force upon our children or feel the pressure to buy because our neighbors bought it for their child. Maybe children shouldn't be so overwhelmed with things. Why do we as adults complicate our children's simple lives with stuff that neither they need or we need? I am disappointed in adults and parents who over indulge children in giving elaborate gifts,and excessive toys and gadgets and then expect the children to be responsible for them and organize and manage them. Why do we do that? Then... sometimes we belittle, demean, yell, humiliate, and punish our children for not taking care of those things. We end up punishing them for things they didn't need, want, or have the time or energy to manage. Hey, we in the adult world need to reconsider the cost in time, means, energy and family relations when we burden our children with more than they need. We could all use better judgement in what we invest our time, money and energy on. I wish all you young mothers the courage to give your children back their lives by not burdening them with so much stuff in the first place. I wish you all the best in your efforts and decisions.

GETyourMOMMYon said...

I thought I was raising hoarders too until I offered to pay a dollar per trash bag full of toys that I could give to kids who don't have enough. Each boy age 5 and 7 earned $3 for their "yard sale belongings" and I took them away the same day so no one could change their mind. $6 and goods for charity...priceless!

The Duckworth Family said...

My child isn't a hoarder, but just a typical child that likes to play and not clean! I agree that kids end up with too much, and they are kids, they don't have the experience or ability yet to just KNOW how to be organized and clean all the time. I think purging often is a great thing. I don't buy my kids a lot of toys, but they have Grandparents! I also think constantly (and of course with patience) helping them to learn to clean and organize is a great start. I was anal as a young child...keping m;y room perfect and clean, then as a teenager not so much, college it was on and off, then as an adult again I LOVE a clean organized home. I feel so much more peace and love when it's clean. So although I occasionally lose patience over messes, I try to remember they are kids, and then let them help me organize and clean and recognize the good feeling when things are that way.

fluttering said...

Please, visit flylady.net. She teaches us all how to organise. Also how to make the choices about what we need to keep. Doing it for your son will not help him. (although a clean slate can't hurt to start). Strategies like donating a toy before a new toy is added etc could help.

Jan Garber said...

Congratulations on being a strong Mom! Few parents can take the initiative and do what they need to do! You are well onto your way to raising well adjusted, unspoiled teens. (Well, I'll pray for you, anyway!) :)

Leah said...

I toss excess toys at least twice a year.

I think you should give them back one at a time for each day of having a clean room. If he has a messy one, he can either not get one back or lose one he has.

They really don't need as much as they have, and Christmas is right around the corner.