It’s Her Room But It’s MY House

I like a tidy house.

Who doesn’t? The real question is how hard is it for you to get there … when you have children of a certain age?

Some people enjoy the process. Some people hire out the chore. Some people have children that aren’t yet old enough to have an opinion about their space. I’ve been watching all of you. 

I see all of the wide open spaces you’ve been able to create throughout your home by minimizing the stuff. I want to ask you this: “How do you get your children to buy in?” or “Are you just taking pictures of the rooms where you have control?”

When I was pregnant with my now nine year-old, I took such joy in decorating her room. I didn’t know who she would be, but I tried to plan for everything – which meant not doing too much. The decor was minimal, unisex and intentional. I went for calm and open. Besides making me feel happy, the intent was to give her the room to grow into who she was going to be.

Welp. She’s a hoarder.

To be fair, I don’t think this condition is uncommon (from what I can gather) and I don’t think she meets the technical, psychological definition of an actual hoarder … but it’s close enough for me. Her room gives me hives.

I understand that the nature of this internet beast is that you’re going to read this and think what you’re going to think. However, you should know this:

1. My daughter is nine. When she was younger, she had far less stuff. More time = more stuff, that’s just how it goes. When you have the only grandchildren on both sides, they get STUFF. 

2. My daughter is emotionally attached to her stuff. ALL of it. The dust jacket of a book? It’s her FAVORITE. The broken pencil with horses on it? She got that from her best friend when she was seven. That friend moved away and this is the ONLY THING she has to remember her by, MOM.

3. I’ve tried Marie Kondo’s way and invested HOURS with her going through every item in that room. I think my daughter is the only one that could beat her at her own game. Does this spark joy, dear? “Yes, mom.” EVERYTHING sparks joy. EVERY. SINGLE. THING. She could totally take Marie. They’re about the same size.

4. For years of their lives, I ran a military-style clean-up at bedtime. No one got into the bed until their room was “clean” and passed MY muster. What happened, you ask? HOMEWORK. Who has time for cleaning in the evening when you’re doing homework or studying until almost 9:00pm?

5. My children play with their toys. 

I need a solution, y’all. My how-little-can-we-live-with-because-I-need-all-of-this-space attitude is in direct opposition to the way my daughter is carrying on. It’s her room, but it’s MY HOUSE. I fear there will be many tears shed in the quest for happiness. I hope we both survive this.

 

Pictured here – What is left of a diorama project from last year. This Open Ocean has become home to Legos, princesses, superheroes and various other characters. It serves as a lair, a “clubhouse” or a back drop for her imaginative action-filled play.

 

Ahhhhhhh, the Bookshelf. There is a rule: BOOKS ONLY on the bookshelf. (She has more books than this shelf will hold and loves each of them like children.)

 

“The Village.” This portion of the room is overrun with a “village.” She’s created a land with these connected castles and acts our her “stories.” She’s also an author and is writing “a few books about what happens there.” We can’t move any of that, obvs.

 

“The Village” has spilled out into other areas of the room/floor. This urban sprawl has resulted in a make-shift suburbia. It is anchored by books she’s recently read that were cast off the before-bed reading hour and onto the floor. Game pieces, erasers, doll furniture and even those skates pictured bottom left, ALL play their role in her case for the permanence of these objects. I really thought “Object Permanence” meant something else…

 

This scene is on the floor just behind the diorama. Lots of doll furniture is behind the scenes in a back-up capacity. Always books… everywhere you try to WALK. Your necessary plastic fire helmet and game of Frozen are all being utilized and CAN’T possibly be put away. Oh, the irony of that “Just Breathe” book on the floor.

 

Before she was born, she was a part of me. Not for lack of better terminology but because I really like to put it this way, I OWNED HER. When she took her own breaths, I got to dress her HOW I WANTED. Nine years in, things have drastically changed. The transition wasn’t a smooth one for us and we’re working on that, so I try to choose my battles. That new rug I thought she’d love in her room? SHE DOESN’T WANT IT. (It’s in the garage in the wrapping, y’all.) 

We do draw the line though – all of that has to stay in HER room. I get to enjoy the wide, open spaces in the rest of the house while I wait … to see if the correctly chosen battles eventually win me the war. 

Kristen is still in the middle of her love story. She and her best friend of four years gave in and finally decided to date. Two years later, she was engaged. Two years after that, she was married. She’ll celebrate her 17th wedding anniversary this May. Mom to Ellen (8) and James (5), she works full time in Human Resources outside of the home. Her children have taught her that motherhood is hard. And wonderful. And HARD. A proud alum of LSU and Johnson and Wales University, she also collects college degrees. (BS in Psychology, AS in Culinary Arts and BS in Culinary Nutrition). She’s lived in Baton Rouge a majority of her life, with sojourns in New Orleans, Charleston, SC and Providence, RI. The south is clearly home. Recovering from a nearly crippling case of adolescent insecurity, she is still the most likely to have the heel of her shoe caught in the hem of her pants.

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