Making sense of the world

My daughter is a neat freak. Everything she owns, everything she does is tidy and organised – her writing, her clothes, her hair, her bedroom…

Living in the rented house, her bedroom is almost empty apart from a big pile of bin bags of stuff under her bed and a stack of cardboard boxes. She has virtually no possessions. Even her essential collection of hairbands and grips is in a little plastic bag. Yet she takes as much pride in this room as she ever did in her old room.

When she goes to bed at night, she has a routine. She puts her brush and hairbands away in the plastic bag and screws it tightly shut. Then she places it on the pile of boxes in lieu of a dressing table. She adjusts her curtains (old ones from my mum’s dining room because hers went missing) to the exact position she likes them, lines up her slippers neatly together in their usual place next to her shoes, positions her two teddies and adjusts their clothes and smoothes down her duvet and makes sure it gets right to the edges of her bed. Only then, can she get into bed and go to sleep.

A few days before Christmas, amidst the chaos of the missing stuff and all the silly first world problems, something else was sent to try us. And particularly my daughter.

I switched the bathroom light on and it didn’t come on. I tried again. Still nothing. So I tried the other lights. Nothing.

I knew what to do. I’m a woman of the world. I knew where the fuse box was and that I had to flick the switch marked ‘lighting’. So I did. Then I did it again. Then I did it and waited a bit longer before flicking it back. Then I flicked the big, red switch which turns everything off. Everything went off, but the lights didn’t come back on.

Then we went to watch Frozen (amazing film!) and forgot all about it. But it was dark when we got back and we couldn’t see a thing. So we had to go to my mum’s house to make our tea and eat it. My dad came back with me to flick the switches, but there was nothing happening. Between all our stuff we’d left there in the move and the Christmas presents, there wasn’t room for even one person to stay at mum’s. So, short of getting a B&B, we had to go back to the dark house and we had to sleep there.

As well as being a neat freak, my daughter is afraid of the dark. She sleeps with her bedroom door wide open and the hall light is always on. If someone accidentally turns it off, she will wake up screaming in the middle of the night.

But we brought back four lamps from my mum’s house (ours of course being lost in the move) which we would plug in around the house so every room would have a bit of light. Except that was when we discovered that most of the sockets were gone too. The only sockets that were working were in the kitchen and our bedroom.

My daughter was starting to cry and panic. She needed the torch. My son shouted at her because he needed the torch too. But she needed to sort her stuff out. Not even putting her hairbands and shoes neatly, which I would have let her off for, but she just needed to get some chocolates and little presents from school out of her room and put them away in the kitchen. Not exactly priority when we’ve got no light. But it’s her way of making sense of the world. She can’t control that it’s dark, but she can at least make it tidy.

There’s no way she would sleep in her room, even with a couple of lamps on in the kitchen, so I said she could sleep in with me and keep the lights on. She screwed her hairbands tightly into the plastic bag and found a new home for it, put her slippers neatly together next to the bed and folded her tights, skirt, Tshirt and jumper and put them on top of each other in a tidy pile.

She was back in control of the world. Only then could she go to sleep.

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Sounds ideal to me – both my eldest children are as chaotic as me but I have hope for the third.
    Hope your lights are fixed now! Xx

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  2. Neat is good but this sounds horribly familiar to me as an OCD sufferer, the slightest change in my routine sends me into a massive panic.

    Whilst routines can be good to keep life in order, if it takes over your life it can be a problem which can only get more intense. Please do some research on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder so can be aware if her routines are taking over.

    I say this as a friend who suffers from OCD, please don’t take offence at me being so forward.


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  3. Wow I think you will all be hugely relieved when you make the final move. Children do like their routines, mine are quite flexible though due to us spendig time down in Wales but R in particular is someone who likes everything to be in it’s place. I often worry that he has OCD but I’m not sure. It is worth keeping an eye on though.

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  4. I think many children look for a way to control their surroundings, particularly children who are slightly anxious. My middle child has many OCD tendencies, which rear their head every now and again, when life feels particularly out of control for her. I am very aware of them and not allowing them to control the rest of us, which they have done on occasion. We sought some help and in fact they were just a symptom of separation anxiety. I think being aware is the first key and perhaps not pandering to her need to be in control and obsessively tidy all the time? I imagine that when she gets into your new home and life settles down again, it will all disappear. In the meantime, make the most of her tidy nature! I assume the lights got sorted?

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  5. As a child I always liked to keep my bedroom neat. Visitors sometimes commented that they couldn’t believe a boy’s bedroom could be so tidy!

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  6. I hope the move happens soon so she can have her things around her and begin to settle in and in the meantime my OH has a ridiculous number of torches I would gladly let her have just in case the lights go out again 🙂

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  7. I am so messy this is likethe complete opposite to me. She sounds so neat and tidy, bet you never have to worry about nagging her to clean her room. My Hubby has OCD tendencies sometimes. Mostly about things like his bedtime routine. I almost don’t notice it anymore after so many years.

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  8. Hi Sarah,Im glad I have found you again.Im not sure what must have happened because I wasnt following you in Bloglovin and I thought I was.I just thought you hadnt posted for ages. Anyway I have sorted it out and Im following now!
    So you are moving…it sounds a tad tricky – rented house etc,hope you get sorted soon. And I hope that little girl of yours manages to keep a sense of security by knowing exactly where her things are.
    I wpuldnt know how to do a fuse 🙂 maybe its time I learnt! XXX
    Popping by from #pocolo

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  9. I can relate to the fear of the dark as was terrified of it when I was a kid, your poor daugher 🙁 Glad she’s in better spirits now. Surely it can’t be long until you’re in your new home? Happy new year btw #PoCoLo

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  10. Oh, my goodness – just what you needed. I’m glad your daughter could try and make sense of this disorder and change to her routine in some way x

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  11. Lucas can’t sleep in the dark either and I am so sorry your daughter had a traumatic time. Hopefully you get yourselves sorted soon and I am sure you both got excellent mummy/daughter cuddles at nighttime #pocolo

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  12. Something I could learn from your wee girl … order and putting things back to where they belong 🙂 I am glad she found a way to cope with the new circumstances. Happy New Year and good luck with the move!

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  13. awww bless her… my youngest son takes great pride in “his” things… everything has a place and should be in it (in his eyes). Sometimes that’s just how they like it 🙂 x

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  14. Aww bless her….I wish my girls were so organised and tidy!
    Glad she managed to get some control back 🙂 x

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  15. None of my seven are tidy, but a few of them certainly don’t deal well with a change in routine, we leave the bathroom light on each night, but a power cut two days ago was very challenging.

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  16. I wish Grace was as organised and had a bit more respect over her things. Grace is scared of the dark too – we just need to teach her to look after her belongings which is our goal this year! I really understand her need for routine. Thank you for linking to PoCoLo xx

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  17. Thanks very much, everyone. Really appreciate your comments.
    Dawn – I’m so grateful that you said that. OCD was in the back of my mind, but I was thinking it was cute with the very faintest possibility of OCD. Now I’m going to look into OCD and keep a much closer eye on these obsessions.
    Sorry you’ve had to deal with OCD with your daughter, Suzanne. Important not to give into these obsessions – will have to make sure I don’t let my daughter get away with it.
    Thanks for the offer of torches, Damson Lane 😉
    Yes, the lights were fixed the very next morning – we couldn’t live without them for long!
    Not long at all until the move now, should only be about a week! Can’t wait!

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  18. You poor thing, this move hasn’t exactly been easy for you, has it? And bless her, I can understand her wanting to control something when everything seems so out of control. I really hope the move into the forever house is soon x

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  19. The move has been a pain, Franglaise Mummy! But we’ll be in the new house very soon now! I hope she is able to get her room organised as she likes it and then relax. x Thanks very much for commenting. x

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  20. Aww bless her – I would love ANY of my four to be like this, ordered and in control. It has to be a good thing in many ways? How did she manage with no hallway light? xx #pocolo

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