House For Six


Girl's Room Overhaul & How To Deal With A Mini Hoarder

Deme Crinion2 Comments

Last week my mom came in from CA for a fall visit.  Whenever we get together you can bet that some sort of project is going down, and this time I needed her help with our worst hoarding offender: the 8 year old.

Mia's room has always been a challenging space.  We've made worthy attempts to tackle the form and function of this little collecter's room more times than I can count.  We did a big overhaul in NM with a massive purging and organizing effort.

It cleaned up well...
Girl's Room Overhaul & How To Deal With A Mini Hoarder

Girl's Room Overhaul & How To Deal With A Mini Hoarder

Girl's Room Overhaul & How To Deal With A Mini Hoarder

Girl's Room Overhaul & How To Deal With A Mini Hoarder

But inevitably, it always returned to its train wreck status.

I had to laugh (after I cried) when I went looking for pics of her room back in Albuquerque...
Girl's Room Overhaul & How To Deal With A Mini Hoarder

It's basically the same room 2 years later, the mess just relocated to Ohio...
Girl's Room Overhaul & How To Deal With A Mini Hoarder

I know that having a pristine space (with or without kids) is not real life.  But this situation was out of control.  She really could not pick up her room, because it was so overwhelming, At one point there was literally a path from the door to her bed, and the rest of the floor was covered in STUFF.

I desperately hoped (and genuinely believed) that we could create a fun and functional space for our daughter.  One that she could actually maintain, regardless of her personality and hoarding inclinations.  And I think we have finally #praiseJesus got there.

I'll share more about how we tackled some of the problem areas in the room's set up when I share her new space next week, but it truly would not have happened if she hadn't surprised us all and donated half of her stuff.

Really.  I can't even believe I just typed that sentence and it's actually true.

It took us a long time to get here and I don't have a magical solution for the reluctant giver, but if you're a fellow parent to a mini hoarder, I would offer this from our experience:

-Start young.  It obviously took a few years until Mia was ready to do this on her own.  Sure she donated a few things here and there before now, but to part ways with the hard things....the things she really liked but didn't need...that took time.

Some kids are much more inclined to giving than others and some attach more value to their things.   Either way, I think it helped that we encouraged Mia to go through her room and donate things she no longer played with or needed early on (around age 2 or 3).  Even if she only gave away one or two things, it was a start.  One more brick towards a good foundation.

-Forcing it can backfire.  Some will disagree, but if I force Mia to give her things away (which I have) and she's not ready #cuewaterworks, then she hasn't really given anything away.  I took something away from her and gave it to someone else.   And resentment can easily follow.

Ultimately, it comes down to what you're trying to accomplish.  If I want to nurture a giving heart in my children for the long haul, then they eventually need to give willingly from a place of gratitude (for what they have) and compassion (for those who don't).  Yet they may never give anything away if we don't hold them to a certain standard.   It's a tough balance to strike.

We never removed the expectation of giving to those in need and not allowing our lives to be consumed by stuff, but we gave Mia time to come to a place where she was ready to let go of some favorites of her own accord....hopefully paving the way for easier giving in the future.

-Don't dismiss their feelings.  I'm embarrassed to admit the number of "friendsies" we allowed Mia to have.  It was something that happened very slowly over the past few years, but she had accumulated quite the stuffed legion.

We had many talks about how blessed we are and our responsibility to give to others in good it feels to give, to bless another child with less, or who has nothing at all.  But Mia had developed an emotional attachment to these friends.

A lot of changes happened throughout her younger years, including growing our family and 6 different homes before she had even turned 4 years old.  So, we understood that her things (especially her stuffed animals) were constants for her.

While it was tempting to just rip off the bandaid so to speak, we knew that in her tender heart, this was difficult and she needed our help working through it.  For these particular toys, it was about breaking the attachment.

We sat down with every single one of her "friendsies" (not hard because they were already all over the floor) and went through them one by one.  We put the ones she wanted to keep directly on her bed, and ones for donation went into a black bag.  If there was something she wasn't sure about I gave her a minute to think about it, and if she still wasn't sure we put it in a separate pile that we revisited at the end.

How could I tell she was ready this time?  No tears and good judgement.  She was able to distinguish between toys that either had special meaning or she loved playing with, and those that did not hold as much meaning for her.  When we've tried this in the past she was just overcome with emotion, not able to make any decisions.

I honestly can't tell you what finally flipped the switch, but we prepped the kids that we would be cleaning out our rooms that weekend and when the time came she was ready.  I think she also realized that at some point she would have to do it.  We had talked many times about needing to address her room and about working on it when my mom came to visit. She was excited for that - good motivation perhaps.

-Deal directly with regret.  The first night after clearing out Mia's room (a total of two big donation bags and two bags of trash), she came down and said she couldn't sleep because she felt lonely and that her room felt different.

Well, it was different.  She hadn't seen the floor in weeks.  We moved out a few big pieces of furniture, so the room felt much more open - in her mind "big and empty".  Even though it was clearly a change for the better, it felt very unfamiliar and lots of her familiar things were gone.

We tucked her back in and focused on the things she did keep....the ones that are the most special.  We laughed about how her room did look different and talked about how much fun we would have making it feel more like her own space with all the projects we still had planned.  She was able to sleep and the next day she had a ball spreading out with her toys on the open floor. Toys she was easily able to clean up when she was done.

I think a few tears are OK in learning to purge.  Change can be hard and kids have a tough time seeing the big picture.  They may regret giving something away, but it's important to resist the urge to replace it and focus instead on helping them move forward.

-Clear it out when they're gone I think it's wonderful and necessary to include our kids in the purging process, but when they're young I fully support swooping in with a bag to clear stuff out when they're away from the house.  It's easy to identify the toys our kids regularly play with and enjoy the most...and the stuff that just sits at the bottom of a basket.  Now there may be other toys our kids would enjoy but just can't access or even see because they're lost in the abyss.  Fine.

But we all know the crap.  The cheap stuff  that breaks or doesn't really do much of anything (hey there, Happy Meal toys)....the things that don't spark creativity....the paper "treasures" that breed in the back of desk drawers.  Toss it all in a bag (one you can't see through!) and get rid of it quick. If you want to be on the safe side, keep it in the garage for a week or two, and if the kids haven't asked for the items, then go ahead and donate.  Chances are they won't even notice it's gone.

-Lead the way.  Purge and donate often.  Let them see you do it.  Talk out loud about why you are giving something away.  "You know, I have two black shirts that look a lot alike.  I really only need one and I know someone else could use this"  "These pants don't really fit me anymore"  "This vase is really pretty, but I never use it".  Believe me, they are watching. Your example is one of the strongest influences on their young hearts.  Our attitude towards our possessions will affect how our children view their own things. So, keep it up!

-Make it a regular thing.  It's important that our children learn that going through our stuff is not just a one time occassion.  Gifts and new items are always coming into the home, so we have to make purging an ongoing habit.  A seasonal purge seems to work best for us, particularly when we're swapping out clothes for the warm/cool season.  We also do a mini-purge before birthdays and holidays, knowing that new things will be coming in.  If you find a regular time that works best with your family's rhythm, your children will come to expect it.

-Give lots of praise.  Looking back I cringe at the times I put guilt on our kids for not being willing to give to someone else in need...that they couldn't just ditch the dumb dinosaur they bought at the garage sale next door.  I shamed them - if not in my words, certainly in my visible frustration that they could not let go.  And that's never yielded great results.

However, they feel proud and accomplished when we praise their efforts and generosity...when we talk about how God will bless even their smallest act of giving.  Since this purge, Mia has picked up her room and made her bed every day.  We're probably riding a bit of that "new room high" but it's also a hundred times easier for her to clean up now.  There's a place for everything and everything has a place.  And "everything" is drastically less than it was before.

We've made a point to praise her for keeping her space nice, even if it's not perfectly tidy.  This really is new territory for her and we want her to be motivated to keep at it.

-Help them connect.  We've found it also helps to find a way for them to connect the act of giving to a real need. We've talked about the poor and those struggling, but it can feel far removed from our kids' lives.  So, recently we've started using the baby (who they all adore) to put things into context.

"Think about Livy - what if we didn't have enough clothes or blankets to keep her warm?  We would be so thankful for anyone who was willing to help us.  There are a lot of babies (and their brothers and sisters)  that don't have enough clothes or blankets to stay warm...and the weather is getting cold.  We can help!  They don't have toys to play with either and we have a lot we can share."

When we lived in Albuquerque there was a homeless man who we passed on our daily drive to school.  The kids saw me give him some money one day and asked about him.  We talked about what his sign said and why he was there.  They wanted to make him some food and that afternoon they baked him scones.  The next day, we parked the car and I walked over to deliver them to him.  We spent a few minutes talking as Steve told me more of his story.  After that day he was no longer that guy with the sign.

The kids often asked to bake things for Mr. Steve and they wanted to give him our home since he didn't have his own.  They prayed for him to find shelter when the weather was bad and they wanted to help him in whatever way they could.  It was easy for them to give when they knew about the person who had the need.

Use caution and good judgement, but helping your kids connect in a real way with the people we're called to serve and why we're giving, will sow that seed of compassion deeper into their hearts.  Find something that clicks and help them make the personal connection.  Even knowing their hand-me-down clothes were going to their cousins helped.

-Don't give up and pray.  Keep talking about it, keep encouraging, keep trying.  The more they do it, the easier it will be.  If regular purging is part of your routine, then eventually it will be less of a struggle and more of a familiar practice.

And thankfully we're not in this alone.   Growth in giving comes from a combination of consistent efforts in the parental realm.....those same values being reinforced by our community (in places like school, church, and friends' homes)....and the Holy Spirit working in their young hearts.  We've got backup, and that's comforting.

Having my mom here was pivotal in getting through this major purging task with Mia.  She was able to work with her in chunks throughout the day so that it didn't become overwhelming.  My mom even joked, "I'm glad I've watched those hoarding shows so I knew how to deal with her!".  One small decision at a time.  Mia needed a loving and patient adult to help walk her through that process and I'm SO proud of her!   I'll be chatting about the second part of addressing this room bomb next week - how we put it back together in a way our daughter could maintain.  Until then, let's hear from you!

Does anyone else have a mini hoarder on their hands?  What ways have you found to help your kids give and not become so attached to their things?  I think it's time to bring back the one-in-one-out rule over here!

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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Coffee Break: 40 Bags Progress and Favorite Reads

Deme CrinionComment
*Thank you all for you sweet encouragement on my friendship and postpartum depression post.  Seems many of you have been through the same thing (and to a much worse degree).  I'm touched by your stories and am praying for each of you still in the trenches.

It's FRIIIIIIIII-DAAAAY!!!  Oh Friday, how do I love thee. 

And since I haven't been able to finish my post on the latest house project this week, I thought we would resurrect the ole Friday Coffee Break post to catch up.  I've got my coffee con dairy free creamer (experiments in baby fussiness) so let's get to chattin'....

40 Bags in 40 Days

How are my fellow purgers doing?  I was feeling frustrated...well, more like claustrophobic.  Even though we haven't been tackling our spaces at lightening speed, we've still been chugging right along at "I think I can, I think I can" pace.  But the house was feeling even more cluttered than before.  A bag here, a pile there.

I finally picked up all the bags and piles of things purged and loaded them up in the car.  Of course I did not grab a picture because I was too busy patting myself on the back for getting all 4 kids into the car without the baby crying.  Then she started crying. 

30 minutes later that stuff was donated and we came home to a house that was already feeling lighter.  I meant to make a donation run once a week during this process, but we were without a car for awhile, so more had piled up than I realized - a great thing!  And some much needed motivation to keep going!

Here's what we've ditched so far....

1 garbage bag of clothes from our closet
1 garbage bag of random kid stuff
One box full of decor/serving items I simply haven't found a place or use for in the year we've been here.
A bin full of school-type items
About two garbage bags worth of crap (i.e. broken toys, socks with mondo holes, etc.)

We also went through the boys' dresser.  Both of their shirt drawers were stuffed so full you could hardly open/close them and they kept going for the same few shirts on repeat that sit on top.  I mean really #firstworldproblems

Mia's dresser is on the docket this weekend.  I can hardly believe the last week of this 40 day challenge is coming  up.  I'm hoping to lean in and make a big dent in the areas I know we're carrying extra weight. 

Anyone have big weekend plans?  If you're up for relaxing with a few good reads, give these gems a click:

-This flower arrangements post.  I knew about the tape grid trick, but now I'm going to spiral like a boss.

-The homeschool/public/private school debate is always a hot one and as someone who has felt pressure/guilt on both sides I truly appreciated Bonnie's words in this post. I just want to hug her for it.


-My love for the Nester will never end.  Go paint that ugly floor! Because "you can't ruin what you already hate"

-And this trick for how to soften butter quickly....because I'm never prepared enough to have my butter at room temp for baking.

-If you're in need of some eye candy, go drool over Cassie's tile She's documenting the whole process of her kitchen reno and I wish it were a series on Netflix I could sit and binge watch in one all nighter. With dark chocolate M&Ms.

Have a great weekend, Friends!

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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40 Bags Weekly Recap: The Tupperware Abyss

Deme Crinion1 Comment
Happy Friday, friends!  Are you ready for the weekend?  Dumb question.

Last week was a week. Our main car has been in the shop for over a week now, taking winter cabin fever with a colicky baby to a whole new level. 

Thankfully, the temps climbed into the 50's for TWO DAYS and it was like a massive block party with neighbors running out to the vitamin D in droves. It was even warm enough for this little girl to take her stroller for a test drive.  How is she so big already?!?!
(as seen on the Insta)

Anyhow! Today we're checking in with a 40 Bags In 40 Days update.  I'm still fighting the desire to do it all at once or not at all.  This task is so big and I don't have the time or energy to do it in one chunk. Which is the point right? The whole purpose is to make a little progress each day which adds up to a lot in the end. So, I'm like Dory up in here when it comes to progress - just keep swimming, just keep swimming....

I'm still plugging away at purging all the cabinets in our kitchen/family room area.  And these two above our pantry may have taken the tiara for "Most Likely To Drive My Husband To Insanity".  I joke.  But not. 
My rockstar husband has been getting the kids up in the mornings because his wife doesnt function during that part of the day for awhile now.  He also makes Mia's lunch for school and his own to take along to work. Finding what he needed in this abyss was simply a delight.

These cabinets are really deep so this is just the first layer.  Who knows what was shoved behind all this....
 Well, I do now.  After we pulled everything out I discovered all our picnic/outdoor dining stuff (paper and plastic ware, serving trays, and a plastic pitcher).  As well as some other randomness.

The main task was to get a handle on the ridiculous tupperware situation and weed out anything that didn't belong there.

We moved all the picnic items to a cupboard in big bar thingy,  ditched any tupperware pieces that had lost their partner to the recycle bin, and organized the rest.   James is much taller than I am at 6'4", so we put the lunch boxes and items I don't access as much on the top shelf.  All our remaining tupperware and some paper plates went to the bottom.

One of the most frustrating things about this cabinet was trying to grab the right travel was like attempting to remove a bowling pin from the center of the gaggle without knocking the rest of them over.  Strike every time.

So, we used an extra basket to corral all the cups and lids into one contained spot.

A couple months ago (when we were making/freezing food in prep for baby) we grabbed a bulk pack of these medium tupperware containers from Costco.  And we love them. I've purchased the variety packs with various sizes before, but we really don't need 12 different options of shapes and sizes.  Large, medium, and small will do the trick for us.
Obviously, we kept a few other sizes for the time being.  Now that we've actually excavated all our tupperware, we're going to pay attention to which ones we use the most, then ditch the rest.

It felt so good to finally address this black hole!  It even gave me motivation to tackle the rest of the pantry. Sure it took me 3 days, but it's done. I have two more kitchen cupboards to tackle, then we'll be moving on to another zone.  Huzzah!

I'm also still working on this desk area....

I'm breaking up my old office between the desk above and an equally disastrous area I've carved out in our master bedroom. 

Those gems are comin' up next week.

This small way of doing....this progress made in inches.  It is so against my nature.  Dang it, I just want two uninterrupted hours (when I'm not exhausted at the end of the day) to knock _______out. But that's not my current reality.  Once I stopped whining and accepted my turtle existence of slow and steady, would you believe we actually started to see some real progress. 

How are you faring?  What's been your hardest area to deal with so far?  If you haven't jumped in yet, it's never too late to start!

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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40 Bags Weekly Recap: Cupboards and The Holding Area

Deme Crinion8 Comments
We have this weird/awkward/questionable peninsula of cabinetry between our kitchen and family room.  The kitchen was an add-on about 20 years ago and I think the cabinets were part of the old kitchen they decided to keep.  I'm not sure if I love it or hate it.  We're not even sure what to call it..... 

 (look at her on move-in day in all her green glory...)

Is it "the island"?  No, that would be the kitchen island with bar stools.

Then is it "the counter"?  Not nearly specific enough.

Usually I refer to it as "the big bar thingy".  And I love the big bar thingy when we're hosting people at our house.  It's the perfect place to set out food and still keep the kitchen clear for food prep and all the dirty dishes.

But it also cuts the room in half and has created way more furniture placement drama than any one person should have in their life.  How hard can it be to find a spot for the couch in such a big open space?? The answer is stupidly hard.  Anyway. I digress.

What I DO love about big bar thingy (in addition to the great serving space) is the extra storage we have in the cabinetry.  I wanted to make sure we were taking full advantage of them, so they were the first target in my 40 Bags in 40 Days purge.

Since the goal is to tackle a small area each day, I divided this up over the course of 3 days (small drawers, big drawers, and cabinets).  Truth be told I still haven't touched the cabinets on the left side that house our school and craft supplies. Because it scares me.

 Here are some of the things we ditched....

-Phone books and directories - the ones we've never opened and contain info we typically look up online.  Into the recycle bin.

-Serving dishes - I used to have a serious excess of serving dishes, but over the years I've found that I typically use the same ones whenever we entertain and they are mostly white or clear.  Dishes I haven't used in over a year went to the donate pile. 

-Table linens - just like our serving dishes, I tend to have my go-to's for table linens.  Anything I hadn't used in over a year (or ever!  Some still had their clearance steal tags) went to the donate bin.  Seasonal or holiday specific linens were pulled and store away in our holiday bins.

-Pens - when I got to the junk drawer, I realized it was a magnet for pens and markers that do not work.  Trash.  All of them.

Side note...a couple years ago I used an extra silverware tray to organize our junk drawer and it's worked swimmingly.

We also repurposed the drawers in a way that made sense.  The two small drawers on the left are dedicated to batteries and candles/flashlights.  The other two are the designated junk drawer and a drawer of miscellaneous household/hardware items.  The center drawers hold serving utensils and linens, serving dishes, and outdoor/picnic items.

I will deal with the counterspace when all is said and done but I think we could use some sort of charging station.  And binky storage?

I actually cleared off the counter space before purging the cabinets.  I didn't grab a pic, but just imagine piles.  Lots and lots of piles, merging into one counter-sized mega pile.  It felt so good to finally have that space clean and clear, but once we started going through the rest of the drawers/cabinets I found little piles started forming all over again.  #commenceeyetwitch

It made me realize that it really is helpful to have a designated holding or working area when purging like this.  I pulled several items from big bar thingy that will be relocated to other spaces.  Spaces I have not yet purged and organized.  So, they need an area to hang out until their new spot is ready.  Which means I just need to get over stuff being on the countertop.  It's never clear for long anyway.

Next up is that desk area nearby.  

It's going to become my new little home management area since I no longer have my beloved office.  It's much smaller than the area we just tackled, but there's a LOT more stuff shoved into those drawers.

This room is proving to be a challenge for me to deal with....I have a grand vision for the space that includes painting the cabinets and walls, a treatment for the fireplace and lots of fun details.  I want to do it all at once, all right now!

But this challenge is not about the pretty.  Not yet.  First the purging, then the organizing, then the finishing touches.  It's one of those spaces that is going to come together slowly, as budget and time allow.   So while I really want to run out and buy paint, I'm trying to stay focused on the dirty work.  Which really does feel great to check off the list. 

How are my fellow purgers faring?  What areas have you cleared out?  Are you staying motivated?  I've been really inconsistent.  Skipping days and then doubling up on others.  I feel like I need to get in a better routine or maybe a certain time each day when James is home to occupy the kids.  What's your approach?

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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