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child in messy room

Unreal TV

Guest Blog by Joe Bloggs


I don’t know about you, but I find a guilty pleasure in watching television shows like “Hoarders”. I mean, I get that there are serious psychological conditions that lends itself to collecting or hanging onto stuff. Lord knows I have trouble letting things go myself sometimes. But it is in the watching of these almost hopeless homes that makes me feel somewhat better about my own housekeeping skills.

There is nothing like looking at a load of stuff stashed in someone else’s place that makes one feel that the piles parked around one’s own abode maybe aren’t so bad after all. Now I know my Beloved would have something to say about said piles, but since I don’t see him dashing about with a broom or duster, or dare I say it, even aware of where these items are kept, I don’t know that he’s in the best position to judge.

Anyhow, unlike certain other reality TV shows that make you feel pathetic by comparison (‘The Biggest Loser’ anyone?) Hoarders and the like have the ability to make one take a good hard look at your own surroundings, and see that they’re not too bad after all, as long as you have a clear path between you and the closest exit in the event of an emergency (and even then my Beloved would say we push the limit at times).

I always find myself inspired to get up and have a crack at that towering pile of something too, after I watch an episode or two. The kids hate it. Because the pile I am pursuing usually involves them.

Take the last lot of school holidays for instance, I declared that our New Year’s Resolution was to go through clothes, shoes, toys, books, whatever other clutter was clustered in the cupboards, and have a good old fashion Spring, I mean Summer, clean. Better late than never, right?

So I assigned both boychild and girlchild the task of starting in their bedroom closet, while I had a go elsewhere in the house. The instructions were quite specific- empty drawers, shelves, and hanging space, one at a time, and sort accordingly: keep or throw. Sounded simple enough in theory. In practice you would’ve thought I asked them to climb Mount Everest! I swear, the preparation time was about equal, along with the potential failure.

So I sat, one bed at a time, and helped my precious progeny start sorting, with a new set of instructions to make it easier: Does it fit? Yes/No. If No, chuck it. If Yes, will you wear it? If No, chuck it. Simple. (And here I really did start to swear, albeit under my breath so as not to set a bad example for the children.)
After about 6 years of sorting clothes (well it felt like it) we moved onto the shoes, then opened the toybox. Pandora’s Box more like it. Why is it that toys can lurk a long time under the lid, unplayed with, unthought of, unmissed. But as soon as it comes time to consider culling, it’s suddenly the Toy Of The Year and can’t possibly be gotten rid of?!

Anyway, it was during this time I realized that while my kids’ cupboards were looking good, we had somehow misplaced the bed. And you can forget the floor! So at least on one occasion I had an extra body in my bed until theirs was uncovered again (luckily, or not, depends on how much sleep I needed) my Beloved often works at night a lot so there is a spot beside me.

On it went. At least the holidays were a full six weeks so we had time to make a dent in things. I have to confess though that even now there are little piles still awaiting donation or delivery elsewhere. Yet while I was ultimately proud of my kids’ achievements in making their own rooms tidy, somehow, some of the stuff made its way into the Master Bedroom, so now MY room needs at least 6 solid weeks of sorting to make it habitable again. But since we haven’t signed on to any episode of “Hoarders”, it can stay quietly hidden behind closed doors, as so much does in the lives of parents.

In the meantime I can settle in and see how someone else copes with the load, sitting smugly in my less-than-spotless place, and use it as a teachable moment for my children that this is where we’re headed without a few more hands on deck. Or until the next school holidays.

If all else fails, I’ll record a few episodes of “Wife Swap” or “World’s Strictest Parents”.

That oughta do it.