The Great Hoarding Experiment

Like many kids, my children are not so consistent when it comes to putting their stuff away.  Dirty clothes just land on the floor.  Toys often get left–everywhere!  They’ll take off their shoes only a few inches away from our shoe basket, then drop them on the ground instead of in the basket!

I’m totally to blame.  I know I need to be consistent.  Being ill and pregnant or having a newborn most of the last eight years hasn’t helped.  Now I have neither, but still haven’t been as consistent with my kids as I should.

Would it be weird to get pregnant so I can have an excuse for my bad example?  Only kidding…mostly.

So, my husband came up with this ridiculous original idea to help the kids.  He wanted me to just let the living room pile up with stuff to prove a point.

 I was completely against this idea! 

The living room is the one place I DON’T want stuff to pile up.  Yet, he was very persistent with his plan. He wanted to have an impact.  

I finally agreed out of the desire to be an occasionally agreeable wife, but I would only allow the build-up for one day.   Amazingly, that was more than enough.  Still, the kids didn’t seem to notice.

He then sat the kids down and we all watched part of a 20/20 special on hoarders.  It was truly disturbing to watch people shovel the stuff out of the houses and talk of fleas and dead cats being found amongst all the junk.

My children were mesmerized.

The only survivor was my seven-year-old daughter, Dani.  My husband told her we were no longer planning to pick up anything.  We were going to become hoarders and had already started with the living room.  She gave the desired performance, “Nooo!  Do we have to?”

My husband quickly told her we didn’t really want to do that, we just want her to help by picking up her stuff.

She was relieved, then demanded a snack for her time.   

The next day, as you would expect, no change in my children, including Dani. They are still lovin’ their drop-it-anywhere lifestyle.

Yet, unexpectedly, there was one person who was impacted–me.  

Yesterday morning, I suddenly had this over-the-top urge to toss everything!  And, I was consumed with the need to finally set a (better-late-than-never) example for my children.  Maybe it was the dead cats.

In retrospect, I think my husband’s sly plan was meant for me all along!  Grrrr.  Sadly for him, the overwhelming feeling to change my lazy ways subsided after a few crazy minutes.

Grumpy Grateful Mom Goal of the Day:  Stop my hoarderish habits, but definitely not because of my husband’s ridiculous plan. 


  1. Sandy -- As Told By Mommy says:

    Haha, you are so cute! I love your Goals of the Day ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. haha…I was praying the whole time I was reading this that the plan wouldn't work (sorry) cause it totally didn't work when I tried it with my family…maybe I should have included an episode of Hoarders…next time!

  3. Amanda @ Gratefully Growing in Grace says:

    This is GREAT. We move every few years and as a result I'm as anti-hoarding as you can get. Even when the kids get gifts or I buy something I think, "Can I fit it in a box to move? Do I really want to deal with packing it?" It's an amazing anti-hoarding cure.
    Have you tried the "I'm gonna put everything in a trash bag and throw it away if you don't pick it up" trick?

  4. Omg I love that hoarding buried alive show! It's like a wreck, I just can't take my eyes off. I watch it for that very reason pure motivation! I get the overwhelming urge after to just clean and toss! Now they need a children's version…Dora can't find the treasure…little einsteins music won't play, wonder pets boat can't leave the room…it's too messy! Hey I'm onto something here…think it'll have viewers? Lol thanks for the funny post… off to mine, which has been seriously neglected as of late!

  5. Every time I see even three minutes of one of those hoarding shows I have the same urge to just toss everything, and somehow it always passes.

    You're too funny!

  6. I too have seen the hoarding shows. It will impact me for about 5 minutes. I never even make it through the whole house, usually just one room and then it's all forgotten LOL.

  7. Stephanie says:

    So funny! I'm definitely in the hoarders group. I need an intervention and I'm surprised my better half hasn't tried something sneaky like that as well.

  8. Ha! That is funny! I also have a "hoarding" tendency. I like to keep things…that I may need another day. LOL I go through spurts just like you to toss everything! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. yummychunklet says:

    OMG, every time there's a Hoarders marathon on A&E, I always go into a feverish cleaning spree.

  10. Christina says:

    A couple of things:
    ~I LOVE those hoarding shows! They are my guilty pleasure! I know the people are sick and need help, but seriously, who can live like that!??!?! UGH!
    ~I would have NEVER been able to do that, even for a day. I literally am cleanign up under my children while they are still playing. Goodfor you for lasting one day! ๐Ÿ™‚
    ~My children are the exact same way! ๐Ÿ™‚
    ~Good luck! It's never too late to change! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. LOL!! So funny! I'm a hoarder too. We might have talked about this before? But, I've been trying to purge. Kids all do that drop and go thing. I'm going to purge half of Jaycee's stuff soon, because it is obviously just too much for her to handle. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Ha! Watching Hoarders doesn't really motivate me much. My response always seems to be, "See? I'm not THAT bad!!!!" ๐Ÿ˜‰

  13. Anonymous says:

    It is truly amazing that my husband has stayed married to me for as long as he has…he came from a immaculately clean house, super organized and clean…and married someone who wasn't born with the organized gene. I can find a million things I would rather be doing than cleaning up all day long…hence the dilemma. I must be good at something cuz he hasn't left me yet. I'm with you though, I love a clean house…just lack the desire/motivation to keep it immaculate. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Except for about 15 minutes after watching one of those hoarding shows.

  14. Oh, and we are trying the hoarding/no cleaning experiment too. Let your husband know we are going on 5 years and have yet to see a reaction. Any day now I'm sure…

  15. Love it. There's actually Beranstain Bears book about this, but Momma stops picking up. All the errant bears realize how much they've been taking poor Momma for granted and all start helping her pick up. SO nice. If almost entirely unrealistic. I find that if I go into drill seargent mode, the kids will do it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Rochelle@AFamilyofLooneys says:

    Lmbo I get that crazy feeling to start tossing stuff also. I go eat a cookie and wait a few minutes. The feeling does not last long ๐Ÿ™‚ I just leave the piles to my husband. He can't stand it for long.

  17. Well look at that little devious plan of his! However I must say it always feels good to get rid of stuff you don't need…I'm like if I'm not using it I want to throw it out!

  18. Babblin' Brooke says:

    Oh my! We really are twins. I am a total hoarder and I have no clue how to keep the house in order or how to get my kids to help more. UGH! It's more than frustrating. And I have often threatened, when my kids whine about cleaning, to 'just live in a pig sty.' I tell them we won't clean for a whole week and see how they like it. Love the post.

  19. That show makes me itch in the same sort of creepy way that I feel itchy when I find out someone I have been around has lice. But I still watch it on occasion just hoping some one will actually change.

  20. Oh, you ain't got nothing on me. Mine is so much worse. Only, I don't have the energy to pick up right now. I have the newborn excuse! LOL!

    Good luck! Hope this urge to clean stays for awhile!

  21. Lane Ruesch says:

    I watch those hoarding shows all the time, because they make me want to get rid of clutter. The more you watch, the more motivation you have! Unfortunately I have to agree with you, the motivation only seems to extend to me and not my hubby. I can only imagine what it's like cleaning up after multiple children… So far my 17 month old responds quite well to the clean up song. Hey! Maybe I should see if I sing that to my hubby, if he will clean up his stuff too!

  22. Lisa @ Two Bears Farm says:

    Hoarders has that effect on me too – I just want to toss it all! I always watch it for motivation if I need to do some deep cleaning, lol!

  23. Mom of 12 says:

    Those darn husbands…they think they know everything!

  24. Watching that show always makes me want to throw stuff away and clean!

    It's amazing how quickly things can pile up when no one puts them away :/ I'm just as bad!

  25. Never seen those shows, but I get the idea. My house may not be tidy all the time, but I can't stand keeping something if we are not going to use it. I have already planned how to get rid of the baby equipment when my youngest outgrows it. If something is put away then I forget about it (out of sight, out of mind) but if it is in the way somewhere then I am more likely to get rid of it if it is useless. Or I will leave something in the way on purpose so that I will eventually get around to it.

  26. RoryBore says:

    This drives me absolutely bonkers too. Everything is dropped on the floor when they are done. sippy cups, toys, clothes, you name it. If they no longer want or need it, the just fling it down and run. I don't live like this…..where does this laziness come from?
    But I have a solution.
    I got a clear plastic bin and anything left on the floor goes into the bin for 3 days. Time out for inanimate objects if you will. If it's your sippy cup…too bad, you can only drink at meals now. Any item on it's 3rd visit to the bin – STRIKE OUT — it's outta here.
    They are not impressed with this idea. Which means….I'M WINNING! LOL

  27. Hahaha, I LOVED this post!!! I am going to try this on my kids ๐Ÿ™‚
    You are hilarious, I LOVE your blog…The pics of your mesmerized kids had me laughing on the inside ๐Ÿ™‚
    You're certainly not alone…we may as well all give up now, they're obviously ALL wired the same way lol. I adore what your other reader friends wrote too ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Ha! This is hilarious!! My kids would be oblivious to it too…well, until the day when i said "If you don't put it away I'm throwing it away." You wouldnt' believe how quickly those toys found their shelves.

    I Love to watch Hoarders just to come away with that "Man – at least I'm not THAT BAD" feeling. It pretty much makes me feel like a domestic Godess, which I am really not.

  29. I didn't see the episode of 20/20 but I have see Hoarders. Truly disturbing. My kids and even my husband are guilty of leaving messes. And well, I have adapted to their messy ways. I have goals to change me and them. To date…our one cat is alive and well and his litter box is changed regularly. But how I can relate to your tales of toys, shoes, and other little piles of things all over. *Sigh*

  30. I think my living room ends up like that or worse every single day. It is so frustrating. I'm tempted to throw everything we own away and start over.

  31. Heather H says:

    I am struggling with my hoarding ways as well. I want to get rid of everything, but then the frugal side of me kicks in – "but what if I need it? I don't want to buy it again!" But I am working on it. I think I'll start by recycling all my parenting magazines. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  32. WhisperingWriter says:

    I watched that Hoarders special!

    The dead cats made me want to gag.

    I do try to be more organized. It doesn't always work though.

    But at least people won't have to shovel crap out of my house.

  33. blueviolet says:

    I think I have a tendency to accumulate, but I do it only in certain areas of the home, like the basement (of which I have none) so actually that's a lie.

    The truth is that the crap which ought to be in a basement now resides in an enormous two-sided storage unit 1/2 mile down the road.

  34. I love following your blog. I am smiling at this one. It brought back some memories of similiar moments. I was went on stick and didn't do one thing to help which included, picking up, cooking and washing. It did seem to help a little; but not long term. I also did the one where if the toys are not picked up then they go in a bag and the child has to pay back by doing work for the toy.
    Anyway, thanks for the memories and keep on enjoying the moments of your family life.
    Blessings to you!

  35. Jenny in NC says:

    The only way I've been able to keep the toys tidy is to not have very many toys. Crazy idea, huh? :)Unfortunately I didn't learn my lesson until my own kids grew up. Now I have 5 daycare kids. All of our toys fit in 10 bins with LOCKING lids.

    My own kids are now teenagers and anything that is left out long enough to bug me goes in the garage. They have to pay $5 to get it out. Their rooms are pig stys, but the rest of the house is clean.

  36. Victoria says:

    How funny! We're bad packrats and the one thing we're the worst about keeping is papers. I really need a house with a burn pile…. Anyway, I think your hubby was really on to something! It's a brilliant idea, even if the kids weren't receptive.

  37. Mikailah says:

    That is funny.. I would never agree to my Mom trying it though! ๐Ÿ™‚ lol. Maybe once the kids get a little older it will have more of an effect. (???)


  38. momnextdoor says:

    I think husbands are very sneaky with stuff like that! You may recall my post about my husband's sneaky plan (at least I'm convinced he was being sneaky…much like your husband)to get me to clean my house. His plan really worked because it's been about a week and a half and I'm still on my clean streak. I think it's some sort of record! ๐Ÿ™‚

  39. GrumpyJaxMomOf3 says:

    I am not surprised that it didn't work…. My kids would have crashed or asked for a snack too… Lucky for me, my husband is not creative enough to "plan" something like that. Hoping he doesn't catch on to my hoarderess ways ๐Ÿ˜‰

  40. Haha! This sounds exactly like my house! Nice to know I'm not alone. ๐Ÿ™‚

  41. I think I saw that 20/20. It was just last weekend, right? I really wanted to start throwing stuff out right then and it was almost 11:00 at night. We're bad about shoes, books, and toys here. I started a "five minute frenzy" for clean up each evening. Everything left after 5 minutes I will be happy to pick up, but then it's gone for a week. Really made my point when it was the beloved AG doll that went to toy time-out! (evil laugh!)

  42. After a really bad day working with no AC in 95 degrees this is just what I needed – something that puts a big smile on my face and makes me laugh! I have to chuckle – and just wait until they are teenagers ๐Ÿ™‚ I just begged one of my kids to Please make a path to the door.

  43. Laura@livingabigstory says:

    I sooo wish I had a fix for this…. the bad thing is I'm just not very good at it either ๐Ÿ™

  44. HA! When I watch the show Hoarders, I have an intense desire to clean my house ASAP, but apparently seeing that stuff on TV doesn't have the same effect on children. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Also, you should know, it's not hoarding unless you have rotting food all over the place, dead animals underneath piles of Christmas decorations from the Eisenhower era, and flies. Lots and lots of flies. So don't be so hard on yourself–you have a ways to go.

  45. Mo 'Betta says:

    My kids are terrible about picking up their stuff, especially my oldest! She's rather take a beating than clean her room. I can't say I enjoy it all that much either…but I've been on an organizing mission. So far that has been limited to pinning lots of ideas on Pinterest. Hey, it's a start ๐Ÿ˜‰

  46. Rach (DonutsMama) says:

    That show is disturbing on so many levels. When I was pregnant and nesting, I was driving to Goodwill all the time, dumping stuff off. I'm still trying to get rid of stuff, but mostly because we have so much we're not even using!

  47. I love it!! I love the pictures of the kids "watching" the TV special, haha. We have been watching Nanny 911 lately and 3 yr old announces that she needs "nanny" to come help her. Boy, wouldn't she?!?! She has been in a battle with the new babysitter for the past two days, making us wonder if the babysitter will return? ๐Ÿ™‚ We are that family, too.

  48. I have no hoarding tendencies.. I have the lazy tendency. *hangs head in shame*

  49. Every time I see a hoarder's episode I get SO grossed out and want to clean my house from top to bottom too.
    But maybe you should be pregnant all the time and have as many kids as the Duggers. This way you'll have an excuse not to clean up, and besides, their house always looks clean, and I'm pretty sure it's bc the older kids clean it.

  50. Mommy Inconsistent says:

    Once again…I AM NOT ALONE!! I'm sitting at my kitchen table and there are dirty socks, jeans, a tv cable, baby wipes, toys, a lunch box and a mixer (and a glass of sangria because I've given up for tonight). Very funny post…love the pics of the kids sleeping…they're so cute.

  51. Kim @ Mamas Monologues says:

    I can't watch that show, it grosses me out!

    I don't know if I could let things pile up in the living room, but I'd LOVE to go through and toss everything!

  52. So this was my cure that worked. When I picked up something that had been carelessly put down I put it in 'Hawk'. I figured if I did the work of bending ALL THE WAY DOWN, I should get compensated. When they got around to needing the item the child had to do a chore or errand for me to get said item back. This really worked. Although it was difficult for me to be consistent when it was an emergency. "Where's my baseball glove, my games in 5 minutes!" BUT I did it! And that only happened a couple of times before they caught on that 'emergency' situations were just like all the others.

    My kids didn't understand the old fashioned phrase of Hawk…for some reason the started calling it the Eagle's Nest. (Imagine my sons confusion at Eagle Court of Honors!) To this day, when reminiscing on their childhood they all have fond memories(horror stories)of the Eagle's Nest. That's OK. I'd like to think that while I had a clean house all those years; they were being taught the important concept of being responsible for their own stuff. All have had experiences with roommates and companions that never quite got that concept.

    PS:I'm glad you did the syrup. There's nothing like homemade! ๐Ÿ™‚

  53. Odiecoyote49 says:

    Whenever i need to clean and can't find the energy I go to my MIL's who is a pack rat. Arrgh! She does love her "things", and will part with nothing. My habit of discarding stuff that has been around a year, and goes on the toss list if it hasn't been used, drives her as crazy as does her hoarding to me. Love your blogs.

  54. Help! Mama Remote... says:

    Rotfl! Yeah, that lesson was especially for you! When ever I do spring cleaning or get a cleaning urge I don't want to stop i watch hoarders. Great motivation!

  55. My kids are the same way, shoes just land where ever so does clothes. Sometimes just a inch away from the hamper. I keep telling my son if I find one more transformer piece laying around I'm going to start tossing them.

  56. We watch that show sometimes, it's like a wreck you can't look away from even when you want to change the channel. I've never seen them finding dead cats, oh my gosh. I can't imagine that lifestyle. Fun little family experiment … one day would be more than enough for me too!

  57. Hilarious! What a great idea to watch Hoarders. I remember when I watched an Oprah episode where she talked about bugs in your sheets and mattresses. Ever since then, I've tried pretty hard to wash my sheets weekly. It's amazing how pictures and videos can change you!

  58. LOVE IT! What a fantastic idea. I wish I had the same problem. I tend to throw things away when I shouldn't. Sentimental stuff just because I get tired of having "stuff" around.

    Your husband is a sly little devil isn't he. Not bad.

  59. This is hilarious. My oldest is a complete hoarder. And if I put on that show for her to watch she would probably fall asleep in the middle of it. At least you were changed by the show I guess.

  60. Every time I watch hoarders, I clean. It wouldn't matter if I was falling off the couch asleep, it wakes me up! It's so funny sometimes!

  61. An Irish Italian Blessing says:

    Oh my goodness, I SWEAR my living room looks like this every day and I only have my 2 year old and my husband. Maybe a Hoarding special will snap them of their messy lifestyle. Pretty sure me not picking up will not deter them one single bit, sigh.

  62. You're too funny! This is hilarious! every time i watch an episode of Hoarders it makes me reevaluate the items in my home.

  63. I Am Not Superwoman says:

    I have done this on numerous ocassions so my husband can see how much I really do before he gets home. The house isnt perfect but on the days I left it all for him to see, I think he thought we were robbed. It looked like the house had been ransacked. I told him no, it was Hayden…Taz.

  64. I love your blog. Like seriously! Thank you for always making me laugh ๐Ÿ™‚

  65. Sandra's Fiberworks says:

    Oh, GREAT post! TOO funny! And your living room looks like my entire downstairs, as the playroom blends into the livingroom which blends into the kitchen…the best as when they boys want to play "tent" and rearrange all the furniture to drape their blankets over them….I prefer to live in a mess, if they are content and I get peace. Reasonable enough.
    We also have the shoe basket, and they ALSO take them off just two inches from it. SOmetimes I tell them to put them in. easier, to do it myself, I confess.

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