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The Secret Life of a 5-year-old Hoarder

September 24, 2010

My name is Maya and I am a hoarder. 

In order words – I keep every single useless, old, worthless thing I can get my hands on. 

Isn’t it ironic that my minimalist mom has a daughter who can’t throw anything away?  I also think it’s funny that my mom is a vomit-phobe and I throw up like it’s going out of style.  Sometimes I throw up just to gross her out – but please don’t tell her I said so.

Anyway, my mom always yells at my dad for bringing home free junk from events he attends, but I don’t think it’s junk at all!  See?  I found a way to use the stack of leftover HP stickers he brought the other day:

I wrote all over them and then taped them to a leather chair.  Smart, huh?

I also found a purpose for the adult sized Team Galaxy scarf my dad brought me last week – I used it to keep the treasure chest (which I use to hoard all my old drawings in) warm….

But the scarf has since disappeared!  My mom said she has no idea where it went but I think she’s lying.  It wouldn’t be the first time.

Okay so I’ll admit I have a small problem hoarding free Trader Joe’s stickers – but who can turn down free stickers?

And I won’t let my mom give away a single one of my stuffed animals – not even the one my mom says gives off bad vibes because of who gave it to me. 

I know you must be curious but I won’t name any names or identify any particular stuffed animal because I want to live to see another day.

Just the other day I rescued a piece of cardboard from the recycling bag because I couldn’t bear to see it go.  I used it to make myself a basketball hoop with a pair of my mom’s good earphones.

She got really angry that the earphones broke but I got mad back and told her it wasn’t nice to stifle my creativity.

I firmly believe hoarding is a genetic thing and obviously I learned from my enabler dad.  I mean just look at this? 

Even I don’t hoard cables.  Yet.

87 Comments leave one →
  1. September 24, 2010 2:31 am

    Wow! First one to comment today! Yay! This hoarding thing is a real disease with me too, and my husband is the one who will throw away anything that sits in the same place for more than a week. Debbie’s perfectly acceptable drawing books have all found their way to the garbage dump, one way or the other. But my daughter has dutifully rescued them every single time! Looks like you ‘anti-hoarders’ are always outnumbered!! 😛 HAHA!

  2. September 24, 2010 3:11 am

    I am a Hoarder. And it needs to stop.

    I blame it on my pressing financial situation – I may not be able to afford a new sweater this winter, so keep the one that has a hole in the sleeve and faded a unrecognizable shade of orange right? ;)…oh Lord…

    And my cables/wires are such a mess…ooooh I hate it – just hoping I won’t be living this way the rest of my life!

  3. September 24, 2010 3:22 am

    This post is too cute!! I can foresee my daughter doing this exact same thing 😉

  4. September 24, 2010 3:23 am

    Oh my goodness – the second I saw this title in my reader I just HAD to click. You totally crack me up! I will cry if I ever have a child who is a hoarder. I cannot STAND clutter and will throw away everything and anything in my path of destruction. Although I’m afraid of what my husband would do to me if I threw away all his papers in his office, so I just close the door to that room. Otherwise, it’s fair game!!!

  5. September 24, 2010 3:43 am

    Funny. I feel your apartment is so exquisite and grande..and u have a little monster there unable to contain herself within the walls (like a princess yearning to leave the stifling confines of her home)..ha.

    No worries about it making a mess. My kitchen table is jammed btw my frige and wall and I have a lovely wall of cable wires and clothes stacked on garbage bags on my floor (no dressers!)…tis a site.

  6. September 24, 2010 3:50 am


    BAHAHA you kill me, ameena.

    the tags of this post are just the cherry on the hilarious top.
    At least you can laugh at things that drive you crazy, right? 🙂

  7. September 24, 2010 3:52 am

    I can’t stand clutter. I have a feeling there will be a lot of discussion when we have to go through the closet in the guest room when changing it over to M’s room. It has a lot of Peter junk in it. M loves hanging onto random things too. At least shes still at the age where it can “disappear” without her noticing.

  8. September 24, 2010 3:59 am

    Lol…I was a hoarder too…I’ve gotten better about it now that I’m older, but I definitely have a hard time throwing stuff out, especially if I’ve formed any sort of memory/attachment to it.

  9. September 24, 2010 4:08 am

    Ahahaha- this is one of the benefits of my tendency to move every year- I toss out so much crap. The fact that I’m not moving this year makes me nervous…

    I’d like to say she’ll grow out of it. It just may take 20 years… lol

    And I used to get the hoarding thing from my mom (she still hasn’t tossed the dried flowers and whatever else from homecoming/prom/etc even though I’ve told her to every time we talk about my old room on the phone).

  10. anver emon permalink
    September 24, 2010 4:16 am

    from recycled cake to refurbished cardboard — was the cardboard for the hoop from the cake box in the garbage, cuz that would be way too much eco-consciousness for me! I’m all for protecting the environment, but there’s gotta be a line (way back there somewhere 🙂 )

    • September 25, 2010 9:04 am

      I have zero idea where the cardboard came from – it was probably something Ali was hoarding in his closet!!

  11. September 24, 2010 4:17 am

    Ha – GREAT post. At least you know that if the apocalypse comes and we have to hide out, Maya will be able to make sporting equipment out of trash.

  12. September 24, 2010 4:23 am

    ahhh this post is precious! i was definitely a hoarder when i was younger and i’m slowly growing out of it. i think now that i’m out of college and on my own i want less stuff around. but that doesn’t mean that all my stuff doesn’t stay with my mom at her house! oops. probably the wrong thing to say 😉

  13. September 24, 2010 4:33 am

    I love this! Poor Ameena. I live with a hoarder, too, and I’ve found the best way to clear out the junk is to throw it away slowly, one by one. That way, they never realize it’s gone. Because, truthfully, hoarders only recognize about 5 percent of their junk.

  14. Leslie permalink
    September 24, 2010 4:40 am

    Why one should never comment at 530 am…we forget to put our email address down, then our LENGTHY! reply is wiped out. :(((

    I’ll retype my last point, with my earlier brilliance erased into cyberspace neverneverland. Maya’s creative kick to see potential in others’ discard is precious. An empty box. Stickers. Perhaps a better-housed, drug-free Basquiat in the making?

    P.S. Please tell me that the chair recovered from all that stick goop on it.

    • September 24, 2010 8:50 am

      Hi Leslie – With a little bit of scrubbing my leather chair is almost as good as new! Sorry about the wiped out reply AND the forgotten banana bread. I’ll try to get my act together for next week!

  15. September 24, 2010 4:51 am

    Maya, you need to ask your mother to buy to a sticker book so you can keep your awesome collection of TJ and HP stickers.
    I used to have a wicked sticker collection as a kid and, speaking or hoarders, I’m pretty sure I know exactly where it is in my dad’s basement right now.
    See in 20 years you could be married and moved out and still leave a legacy of treasures at your mom and dad’s place!

  16. September 24, 2010 5:23 am

    HA!! This made me totally laugh out loud. I have to admit, as a pack rat myself I can totally relate 🙂

  17. September 24, 2010 6:23 am

    This is funny (sorry), cause we have the same problem in our house. I think it’s totally genetic! Both sets of K’s grandparents are hoarders, plus her Dad, so I’m not surprised that she’s one too.

    I’ll have to give Maya points on creativity with the basketball net. For a 5 year old, that’s a pretty impressive set up. Sorry about your earphones though :(. Hope you guys have a wonderful weekend.

  18. September 24, 2010 6:24 am

    i need to ship my daughter to your house. or maybe you should ship maya to mine??? olivia is the EXACT same way. no lie!!!! i literally have to recycle boxes that i get immediately otherwise, she will make something out of.. like a school house for her american girl doll, a runway for her barbies, or just make a hut for herself.. the basketball hoop??? now that is a GOOD ONE. i think its cute, but when i am tripping over boxes and little shit left and right.. i get crazy.. LOL

  19. September 24, 2010 6:49 am

    This is your best post yet. No lie. I can’t believe the headphones. She isn’t hoadring string or cable cords that could have worked? hahaha. love this so much.

  20. September 24, 2010 7:13 am

    You’ve done it again..thanks for the morning laugh!

  21. September 24, 2010 7:43 am

    You really have your hands full with those two! And your house full too. I say fine…be a hoarder but at least be organized with it. Which is not really likely to happen with a little kid and apparently not your hubby either.

  22. September 24, 2010 7:56 am

    This is too funny! Sounds like someone needs to sit through an episode of Hoarders…

  23. September 24, 2010 8:28 am

    Maya needs her own TV show, asap! And man, with some bling, you could totally market those basketball hoops. College tuition, here you come 🙂

  24. September 24, 2010 8:47 am

    I have hoarders.
    3 of them.

    I am the minimalist. it drives me INSANE.

    Maya…you should post more often! You are the most ADORABLE blogger out there~~~

  25. Leah @ Why Deprive? permalink
    September 24, 2010 8:58 am

    I was JUST like this when I was younger. I even kept an old popsicle wrapper because it ripped into a really cool shape. And I still have all my old stuffed animals. Theyre in my parents crawl space, where they will remain FOREVER!

  26. September 24, 2010 9:02 am

    In my house i am the one keeps everything for someday use.My hubby is so minimalist, that he throws everything out immediately including certain bills supposed to be checked later. So Maya you can be little hoarder not too much like my father in-law who says all the clutters in the home are treasures needed for future use.

  27. September 24, 2010 9:03 am

    Haha, my dad is like this. He will literally go through the garbage and retrieve half the stuff we throw away after cleaning the house. His excuse is always: I have an idea for this! Yeah, the idea of putting it in the basement with all the other things that he refuses to part with is getting kind of old. lol

  28. September 24, 2010 9:35 am

    LOVE IT!

    throw away or give away food or gifts that comes from a person that I feel gives bad vibes.. but I think that’s a cultural thing.

  29. September 24, 2010 9:38 am

    I am a minimalist. I think its because my mom loves to hoard and collect stuff, and I always used to find it so irritating. Our house was always so messy. I was embarrassed to invite people over. Now that i have my own house, everything is exactly the opposite. I love clean counters. In my kitchen, i only like to keep my KitchenAid mixer out.
    I cant believe your hubbs hoards cords, mine does too!!! I cant imagine what for. I have to admit though, I’ve thrown a lot away. He doesn’t even notice LOL.
    *kisses* HH

  30. September 24, 2010 9:58 am

    i was a hoarder up until the age of 12. my mom was so worried that i wouldnt grow out of it. actually i was too. it got to be a bit much when i would cry over someone throwing out little scraps of paper or tags i ripped off clothing. i swear to you i would save little pieces of dust that looked cool to me. my room was a fire hazard.
    one day i sort of realized how much OCD i had about saving every tiny little thing that i flipped over to anti-hoarding (basically tossing out everything i could)… im not sure if they can call that a disease.. or if the reversed version of hoarding exists…but if it does, then im definitely a sufferer hah.

    xoxo ❤

  31. September 24, 2010 11:16 am

    Hahaha! Oh man hopefully she will grow out of this. Hoarding gets worse with age (you have more stuff as you get older!).

  32. September 24, 2010 11:33 am

    priceless *and* hilarious! love it! she’s a keeper, at least from this vantage point! 🙂

  33. September 24, 2010 12:19 pm

    HILARIOUS! I love this post.

    Poor earphones. RIP.

  34. September 24, 2010 12:23 pm

    You’re so cute with those stickers! 😀 I the same with books. I just can’t let go and I read them over and over (even though my bf does not believe me, he thinks I have too many books.. there is NO such thing as too many books!) again…

  35. September 24, 2010 1:12 pm

    Love this post. Brought a big smile to my face. Soooo cute.

  36. Kath (Eating for Living) permalink
    September 24, 2010 1:53 pm

    LOL, I was EXACTLY like that as a child! You would have to walk on tiptoes through my room because it was so messy you couldn’t see the tiniest piece of the carpet anymore. My poor Mom! It must have been horror for her! But she did her best and convinced me that little imps would take away everything I didn’t have tidied up during the night. And when I didn’t tidy, she would sneak into my room and take the things that were still lying aroung and hide them. I was shocked when I got up next morning and discovered my things had disappeared! So I slowly learned to get a little better. (My Mom recently told me she used to put the things back after a week or two, but until then the shock had usually already done its work with me.) Later she was able to appeal to my compassion by telling me how bad she felt when I turned the house (yeah, it was not just my room) into a mess. I felt bad because she was feeling bad due to my thoughtless behavior, and I got a little more better. What has finally taught me to become tidy was the experience of living in very small apartments during all the years of studying. I didn’t feel well when it was messy, and I would lose things constantly and get in troouble with some seminar etc when I didn’t have my things ready. So I learned to tiny up. I still don’t like it, but I do it because small apartments just don’t pardon messiness, and I don’t like to have a mess around me myself. I’m kind of a tosser now, acually.

    • September 25, 2010 6:33 pm

      I think your mom is brilliant – I am so going to tell Maya that imps took her things. That way I can manage not to be the bad guy for once and she’ll be terrified of the imps!! Please thank your mother for me – this is going to change my little hoarder’s life forever!

  37. actorsdiet permalink
    September 24, 2010 2:37 pm

    my mom used to throw out my stuff w/o my permission. she turned me into a non-hoarder. sorta.

  38. September 24, 2010 2:47 pm

    This is going to be the problem when I have children. They are going to come home from school to see that everything in their room is gone…all of the stickers, the toys, the sticky notes…I hate hoarding, and my poor children are going to suffer for it! You are a sweet mom…and I need to learn to be more accepting. Thanks for sharing love!

  39. September 24, 2010 2:52 pm

    Maya, you are too cute!! And I have a big feeling this minimalist mama (me) will one day have a hoarding little boy on her hands… just like HIS daddy!! 😉

  40. September 24, 2010 3:15 pm

    Absolutely priceless! What a good writer Maya is. 😉

  41. September 24, 2010 3:18 pm

    So hilarious! As a hoarder myself, I empathize with Maya. I can’t bear to throw away old letters from nearly 20 years ago. Yikes. But you never know- maybe someday some of that stuff will come in handy.
    By the way, thank you for the advice. I think I will look into volunteering. 🙂

  42. September 24, 2010 4:14 pm

    Funny post Ameena, sheeesh you must have had to bit your tongue with the ahhhh, decorating of your chair 😦

  43. September 24, 2010 6:21 pm

    I used to hoard, i’ve done some good therapy for that. its simple. you throw crap away! I just did it. the less i have the less stressed I feel. “stuff” gets “stuffy” and now it causes me anxiety. I used to hoard magazines and I felt so awful throwing them away. Now I just never buy them. Save money and trees.

  44. September 24, 2010 6:33 pm

    between stuffed animals and bags, we are the same way.

  45. September 24, 2010 10:30 pm

    LOL, this is a cute post! I’m slowly recovering from being a hoarder too…can’t help it, both my parents especially my dad had super hard time throwing away stuff even it’s already broken!!

  46. September 25, 2010 2:48 am

    Thankfully I have somehow missed the hoarding gene in my family. My mom will go to BJ’s or Costco and buy tons upon tons of things IN BULK that we don’t need and that no one will ever eat. Just because.

    I, on the other hand, am like you. Always ready to throw something out. Unless it’s food related. In which case…yeah I’m probably hoarding it.

  47. September 25, 2010 3:11 am

    You are hilarious, Ameena! Who can resist free stickers is right, lol! Love the HP stickers taped to the chair too…

  48. September 25, 2010 6:58 am

    Oh I love it. I think that is too funny. Hopefully she can grow out of it and become more like mommy. I hoard certain things, like free pens. Not so much hoarding, but more like collecting. See, Maya thinks of herself as a collector.

  49. September 25, 2010 7:34 am

    Oh my! That is hilarious!! Funny thing is…my husband used to bring home free samples of toiletries from hotels when he war traveling a lot. We have TONS…we don’t need them…I want to throw them out. He won’t let me. ugh.

    I kind of feel your pain.

    Your daughter is pretty creative though:)

  50. September 25, 2010 8:15 am

    The stickers on the chair is hilarious; although probably quite frustrating to you 🙂
    This reminds me of when I was like 8 years old; i got a card out of the back of a travel magazine and checked every box for every state to send me information from the Visitors Bureaus. The card didn’t require postage so I put it in the mail box and continue to get junk mail for almost a whole year addressed to me. I thought my dad was going to go insane.

  51. September 25, 2010 11:31 am

    You go girl Maya!!! I like yor STYLE!!! : ) I think we are in the same page!!!
    still LOVE stickers and POST IT!

  52. September 25, 2010 1:02 pm

    ha, this is hilarious and I especially love the “tags” categories!

  53. September 25, 2010 3:15 pm

    haha….you don’t know hoarding till you see the amount of cables on MY desk. AND we have wireless internet (how does that work?)

    no seriously, i used to hold onto EVERYTHING till i packed up and moved overseas and couldn’t take everything with me. that’s when i realized how much “stuff” we really don’t need. now i’m a minimalist.

  54. September 25, 2010 3:46 pm

    I think that your daughter and my son would get along smashingly 🙂 And I love your tags!

  55. September 25, 2010 6:04 pm

    I love the show hoarders 😀 I was always a very clean kid!

  56. September 26, 2010 4:06 am

    Both my boys are complete hoarders. We were cleaning out their room the other day and I tried to throw away a broken goodie bag slinky. You would have thought I was pulling my 6 year old’s arm off! “You can’t throw that away, it’s my favorite slinky!!”

  57. September 26, 2010 5:28 am

    You are too funny, Ameena! And, yeah, some people probably are more inclined to ‘hoard’ or be obsessive about material things than others. My Cauldron Boy has a little issue with this and apparently was like Maya too when he was little (smile).
    Oh, I know, you should make Maya watch that hoarding show on T.V. with you. Maybe you can scare her into not hoarding while also having talks about the importance of charity and passing on unused useful items. I bet that would work…maybe. I don’t have kids, so I could just be blowing air here;)

  58. September 26, 2010 5:43 am

    I’m constantly accused of “stifling creativity.” Funny, I thought I was just taking out the trash!

  59. September 26, 2010 11:03 am

    This post cracked me up!
    I tend to be a hoarder too. I am just now getting around to throwing out useless junk I’ve had since I was little, and it is still hard for me to do so!

    All the memories!

  60. September 26, 2010 4:15 pm

    Who are you and when were you in my house taking these pictures?

    You should have snapped a shot of the yo yo tied to the doorknob. I have no idea what that’s supposed to be. In the 5-year-old mind it’s a ninja grappling hook for her Barbie dolls.

    She also routinely makes wishing wells out of a bucket and jump rope. Today she used 45 pounds of scotch tape to fashion a ghost out of tissue paper and 4 cubic yards of quilt batting.

    What I’m trying to say is that I can empathize with you. I’m drowning in a sea of scrap fabric/paper inventions!

  61. highonhealthy permalink
    September 26, 2010 8:05 pm

    Haha.. is Maya the next episode of Hoarders? 😉 I can’t understand people who like to hoard. My dad is HORRIBLE and keeps everything. I tried to throw away a piece of frayed string once and he got pissed because apparently it was an old bow string. It’s still sitting in the cupboard 3 years later. A piece of string..
    Thankfully I didn’t inherit that trait!

  62. September 26, 2010 8:44 pm

    Maya, dearest, you’re cute, but you’ve gotta change your life mission from driving mommy crazy to making mommy happy. Give her a hug, would you? 🙂

  63. September 27, 2010 11:12 am

    Hahaha..Oh dear Maya…I once had that same problem like you. The underside of my bed looked like a disaster area for many years because I kept stuffing everything and almost anything under there. I remember finding homework I once did from the first grade. Yeah… I learned my lesson though.

  64. September 27, 2010 5:39 pm

    So funny…Ahh to be five and have such simple pleasures…My you must have a tough time with furniture 🙂

  65. October 2, 2010 7:09 pm

    Maya! You remind me of my friends daughter who used to hoard m&m candies and mcdonalds French fries in her toy chest. Tell your mom that this is a new blog reader and that stories of your selective vomiting made me laugh today. 🙂

  66. April 10, 2011 12:25 pm

    i just hate hoarders…but maya is so adorable! haha…very creative and HILARIOUS post!!! I cant stand that show..HOARDERS…it makes me want to vomit.

  67. nikki permalink
    September 24, 2012 6:42 pm

    my son “keeps” stuff. The stickers off of new clothing, sucker sticks, pinecones, paper, old mail, pieces of cardboard, alot of times its stuff around the house that really should be thrown in the garbage. I wont let him keep garbage so I take it and throw it away, and he cries and throws a fit.. I one day looked in the seat of his big wheel and found all kinds of things, couldnt believe it….how do I stop it?!!??!!?? lol

    • September 25, 2012 6:01 am

      I wish I could tell you it gets better but she is 7 now and the cardboard and sticker collection has not improved!!

  68. August 19, 2013 3:23 am

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    • October 5, 2013 5:57 am

      Hi – thanks for the comment! Sorry I have no idea how to get listed on Yahoo News. Didn’t know I was listed there myself. 🙂

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