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Send Scrooge Packing: How ADHD Mamas Can Love Christmas

Do you struggle to keep your house clutter free, especially after all the gifts from Santa? Read these tips on organizing for moms with ADHD.

A crabby old Scrooge lives deep in the heart of every mama. No, it’s not the Feliz Navidad earworms, or Toys R Us traffic jams, or pine needles clogging the vacuum. Moms hate Christmas for the same reason children love it: the presents. Because every present under the tree means one more present she has to step on, pick up, store, and nag about. More stuff means more work, and no one knows that more than ADHD mamas who perpetually struggle with cleaning.

But you don’t have to hate Christmas. Turn the influx of new stuff into a chance to purge all the old. It’s the end of the year, after all, and nothing makes a better New Year’s resolution than a hefty Goodwill donation. No, it’s not just wishful thinking. Take a deep breath. You can do this.

Realize It’s Not a Quick Fix

“Rome wasn’t built in a day” should really be “a house wasn’t cleaned in a week.” Because it’s not. This is a long-haul job that’ll take several days. Expecting less will leave you disappointed, frustrated, and half-done. Trash bags of old stuff will sit on the living room floor for weeks (I’ll be honest and say “months.”). You’ll be angry with yourself. So even though it’s hard, slow it down, cowboy, and lower your expectations.

[Free Download: Your Holiday Survival Kit]

Divide and Conquer

Why is this going to take days, at the very least? Because you are not doing everything at once. You distract easily. If you start with blocks, you’ll be derailed by the How to Train Your Dragon figures, then the stuffed animals, only to sort socks in a room of half-done cleaning-probably in tears, feeling disappointed with a glass of wine in hand. Pick a category a day and stick to it. We have little kids, so we do building toys, dolls, stuffed animals, costumes, books, action figures, and games.

Start with Clothes

Clothes are easiest, because you can ditch what doesn’t fit and isn’t worn. When in doubt, throw it out (the stuff is going to sit in bags for a few days, so if you miss it desperately, you can fish it out). Sort out stained, ripped, and torn clothes. Then scrape out the bottom-of-the-drawer, only-when-we-haven’t-done-two-weeks-worth-of-laundry clothes. You can lose those. You’ll end up feeling accomplished. If you’re living out of laundry baskets, give yourself an extra day to get stuff folded and put away before you start tossing.

After the clothes, vary the order, depending on your needs. But stick to one thing a day. Evaluate each category in order:

Toss the Broken Stuff

Throw away anything broken. Did the dog chew on it? Does it have missing pieces? Do not keep things to fix another day. Unless we’re talking about your grandmother’s teddy bear, which she bought in 1900, and which she willed to your child after dying in a tragic reindeer accident, you will not fix it. Admission is the first step to recovery, people.

[Holiday Stress Relief Begins Here]

Look in the Dark, Scary Corners

What’s hiding in the corners because it’s never taken out? The stuffed animals buried under bears, the books that never leave the shelves, the army men gathering dust in the toy chest? Donate them to someone who’ll love them. If it isn’t getting use, it shouldn’t take up space.

Reduce the Numbers, Realistically

Seriously, how many Matchbox cars does your kid need? How many Schleich animals? My kids are obsessed with plastic dinosaurs, but I have no shame in tossing the cheap ones that they don’t love (though I keep some smaller ones that they use as baby dinos). Chances are, your kids have a vast collection of some kind. Thin it. And, yes, this includes books. You do not need to own Don’t Let Pete the Cat’s Knuffle Bunny Celebrate Thanksgiving.

Only Then, Ask for Input

Finally, give your kids the, “We need to give toys to kids who don’t have any” spiel. They may rebel and freak out. They may offer everything they have. Find a middle ground.

When your Will Begins to Weaken

1. Tossing the bear Grandpa gave Junior does not mean you are tossing Grandpa. It does not mean you do not love Grandpa. It means you don’t need the bear.
2. Your kids do not need that many Barbie dolls. Seriously, they don’t.
3. Do not keep things because your kid might like them one day. That day will never come.
4. Do not keep toys because you like them. If you aren’t the one (not) playing with it, you don’t get veto power.
5.Except for the stuffed sloth. The stuffed sloth is awesome.

[Un-Decorating for the Holidays]