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“My Daughters, the Hoarders”

Wet towels on the floor, candy wrappers stuffed in drawers, trash creeping into the hallway—it was time to lay down the law.

Does anyone else suffer with a child with ADHD who hoards food, drinks, wet towels, and other nastiness in their bedroom?

I have two girls who hoard enough food in their bedrooms to feed a family of eight, enough wrappers, trash, and clothes tags to fill a kitchen trashcan. Now that I am able to breathe without an allergy attack from the dust, I must share how wrong I was to allow them to keep their rooms the way they wanted.

I kept telling myself for the past few months, “Let them have a messy room. It’s their room, right? They do their laundry, dishes, and help with the dog.” Well, maybe it is right to a point, until it becomes gross and trash creeps into the hallway.

[Free Download: Your Guide to Raising a Child with ADHD]

They have clean sheets, clean clothes, properly working lights, and so on. I tried to stop nagging them about their messy rooms and the wet towels on the floor, in an effort to pick other battles instead. That was a stupid idea.

Eleven large trash bags, two vacuum cleaner canister dumps, and one bottle of bleach later, their bedrooms rooms are immaculate — and, guess what? The girls helped. They spent 45 minutes cleaning with me, followed by a 20-minute break. Then we cleaned for another 45 minutes and took a 20-minute break until the room was clean.

ADHD or not, the hoarding of food has to stop. I know it is more common in girls, especially those with ADHD, to sneak food in their rooms. I did the same thing as a teen: I hid in my closet with cookie dough or a bag of Cheetos. Food gives comfort to many kids and is a distraction. Many times, food is stimulation for my daughters, to help them focus.

[Self Test: Is Your Clutter & Disorganization Out of Control?]

But starting today:

  • No food is allowed anywhere but in the kitchen.
  • Immediately after school, all cell phones stay with me until my daughters’ homework is done and their room is clean.
  • If they do not comply or I find wrappers, food, candy, and so on, I confiscate their phone for the night.



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  1. Well done, you, for being strong and sensible enough to see when enough is enough. I absolutely agree. Unfortunately, since the advent of children having their own rooms and their own “space”, I’m sure this problem has got worse. When I was a child (I’m now 69) growing up in post-war England – food was so scare, and still on ration, that the kitchen was absolutely our mother’s domain, and we would not have dreamt of, nor dared to, go anywhere near the food – on pain of death, I am sure. There was only just enough to go round, with careful management. We never “snacked” between meals – it was unheard of. And bedrooms were for sleeping in – we never went into them at other times. With my own three daughters (now 42, 36 and 33), the same rules applied. They would never, ever, help themselves to food without asking and even then, I don’t think they ever actally DID ask. Meals were strictly kept to a routine time-table. Breakfast, lunch box for school, maybe a slice of toast, etc. straight after school, and dinner on the table when father came home from work at 5.30, and a snack for bed-time if they were hungry, plus a cup of cocoa, or whatever. Never, EVER snacking in between, and never, EVER taking food into their rooms. Bedrooms were for sleeping and doing homework. Never, ever eating in. Unfortunately, life has evolved and bedrooms seem to be places of sanctity, isolation and seclusion for kids now. A big mistake, I think. It is so much more healthy to mix with the family, and go outdoors with friends to play and socialize or find other activities to enjoy outside the home (i.e. not the bedroom). Well,I guess things will never return to the “good old days”. But it is certainly not at all healthy for children to exclude and isolate themselves from society – hidden away in their rooms. As far as cleaning up goes – you are quite right to have “rules”. It is YOUR home and they should respect that. There should always be boundaries and expectations, otherwise they will not have any idea of what is acceptable and what is not. It is YOUR job to teach them that. Otherwise, how else will they learn? Once they are responsible for themselves and move away from your home, then that is their choice, if they want to live like down-and-outs in a doss house!! But not under YOUR roof, if you do not approve of it. You have to have some standards and some self-respect. Good for you!!! Keep it up!! Oh, and by the way, I’m not at all sure it relates to being ADHD – there are many, many kids without ADHD who are lazy, try it on and live like pigs in sh-t, if they can get away with it. Lorna

  2. Hi Lorna,
    Thank you for your feedback! I agree with ALL of your points. Too often today, children are entitled and their parents seem more concerned about being their friend, than a parent. They are ‘scared to upset their child.’ It is crazy to me, as I was raised with strict rules and respecting myself and others. ADHD or not, children must learn to be accountable for their actions and face consequences. Glad you enjoyed the piece! Take Care, Kristin

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