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Help: 4yo DD obsessively packs bags, all day long, with anything and everything.

(69 Posts)
Puffykins Thu 19-Jan-17 21:51:01

Literally anything and everything. Her belongings, DS's belongings, occasionally mine and DH's. Books, toys, bits of puzzle, bits of lego, rice cakes (not in a packet), clothes - you name it - she will pack it into backpacks, suitcases, Sainsbury's bags . . . . And it's not stuff that's lying around, she will seek it out. But there is no theme. And I've just noticed her Sylvanian Family house - aside from stripping all the animals, she's also shoved a pair of bunny slippers, two Thomas the Tank Engine books and an empty loo roll into their house. Why. WHY?? Is this some deep rooted insecurity? Does anybody know what causes it? It's been going on for as long as she's been able to pack anything and it's driving me dotty because I regularly have to unpack five or six bags to find DS's library book/ the alarm clock/ her hair brush/ my mascara. Oh, and we have mice. Because she fills them with half eaten food. She herself forgets what is in them - and it isn't about what is in them, it's just about filling them. For context, DH and I are happily married, she has regular meals (i.e. she doesn't need to stock pile food), there's never been any upheaval, we've never moved house while she's been alive, I unpack the minute we get back from holiday and unpack while we're on holiday so it's not like she sees us 'living out of a suitcase' ever, I vaguely attachment parented her (couldn't breastfeed beyond a month, but she still sleeps in my bed) she's never had a night without either DH or I being there (I occasionally have to travel for work but we've never left her - or DS - with anybody else.) I got so sick of it I confiscated her bags once for a few days (also she had ripped up a book to make it fit which I was very cross about) but gave them back as promised and she's doing it again. She carries them all around with her too. And wants to take them out when we go out. Though doesn't ever get anything out of them. Has anyone ever experienced anything similar . . . ?

RozzlePops Thu 19-Jan-17 21:53:03

Does she ever see you packing your bag for work or even at the supermarket.

My 5 year old dd does this a lot but not to the extent that I was worried.

LoveDeathPrizes Thu 19-Jan-17 21:53:27

I don't know if the obsessive behaviour is a concern but bag packing is definitely a normal schema.

RandomMess Thu 19-Jan-17 21:57:48

My DDs also did bag filling at every opportunity (4 of them!) they did all grow out of it, whether your DD's is obsessive/excessive is hard to judge.

RaskolnikovsGarret Thu 19-Jan-17 21:58:42

Sorry I can't help but think it sounds incredibly cute. And not unusual to me. Sorry if it's annoying you though.

Puffykins Thu 19-Jan-17 22:02:55

Well - yes, she definitely sees me packing a handbag, switching between handbags, and of course packing bags at the supermarket - but, unlike her, I UNPACK them again. Perhaps this is key. Perhaps I need to encourage her to pay more attention to that element. RandomMess, when did your daughters grow out of it? I hadn't realised that it was so normal, so that is a huge relief (DS never did it.)

Enidblyton1 Thu 19-Jan-17 22:03:20

Yes! Not with food, but definitely with toys and any old rubbish she could get her hands on. There was never any particular method or order involved (as far as I could tell). Used to take me ages to tidy up!
She is now 5 and a half and doesn't do it as much - was probably worse around age 3-4. But she's a very messy and creative person.
Is your DD very imaginative and good at playing by herself?
I'm sure I've read about this before and that it's not that uncommon. So I wouldn't let it worry you.
I removed a lot of the toy sets with small bits in them from my DDs room and this definitely helped!

bittapitta Thu 19-Jan-17 22:03:33

You are overthinking this! It is an incredibly normal form of play (schema) at this age.

BUT. Set firmer rules about what she is and isn't allowed to pack. No food. Only her toys not your make up etc. She should understand. Don't just leave her to it?!

notMarlene Thu 19-Jan-17 22:03:44

Can she be distracted with other envelopment/containment schema games?

OneWithTheForce Thu 19-Jan-17 22:06:27

My DS did this! He still does at 7 but not to the same extent and he isn't as attached to his bags and the contents as he used to be. Everything used to be his "treasure" and e was packing for an adventure. Why did he need my lipstick for an adventure?? I never found out. He still hoards stuff. Mostly under his pillow now.

southchinasea Thu 19-Jan-17 22:08:19

Yes the children at school do this a lot! 3/4/5 year olds. A really normal stage of development.

OneWithTheForce Thu 19-Jan-17 22:08:50

I got so sick of it I confiscated her bags once for a few days

sad why? What were you sick of? She isn't being naughty, why did you punish her?

Puffykins Thu 19-Jan-17 22:10:19

Yes, very messy and very creative, EnidBlyton . . . And very good at playing by herself so long as she's creating huge piles/ packing . . . I've been attempting to set rules - no books, not anybody else's belongings, no food etc. - but she's not good at sticking to them, I'll become more insistent about them. Bittapitta I want to leave her alone at times because she needs to be able to play by herself - she's four! DS did/ does lego endlessly, but for DD it's just packing . . .

Puffykins Thu 19-Jan-17 22:12:20

OneWithTheForce I confiscated the bags because she ripped up a book in order to fit it in a bag when she knew she wasn't supposed to pack books - much less rip them up in order to pack them! The bags also contained several other things that she knew she wasn't supposed to have packed.

irishlass1234 Thu 19-Jan-17 22:12:37

I don't know if this will be of any help at all, but your message reminded me of myself when I was little. I went through a phase thinking the house was going to go on fire ( possibly because we had firemen in school doing a fire safety talk, perhaps)
And I thought that if there was a fire I'd need to get out quickly, and didn't want to leave any of my favourite belongings behind. So I packed all my favourite things in bags and left them inside my bedroom door, ready to evacuate quickly! This went on for several weeks, and I didn't want to play with any of the toys I had packed, because they were neatly packed in the event of emergency! I eventually decided that the house was safe and emptied out the bags. But I do remember feeling happy that my favourite things were ready to go at a moments notice.
I would have been very young, it's maybe even one of my earliest memories. I know, this makes me sound weird and crazy! blushconfused

Greenfingeredfun Thu 19-Jan-17 22:12:48

Google enveloping schema smile

Ivytheterrible Thu 19-Jan-17 22:14:30

My eldest 2 so this all the time (age 3 and 6). They come up with very complicated and creative games. Its frustrating having to unpack bags of random things but I generally let them get on with it!

Embolio Thu 19-Jan-17 22:16:41

I have a 3 and a 4 year old and they do this a lot. They go through phases of 'packing' for holidays/adventures etc. Bag contents totally random. It never occurred to me to be concerned about it, although it's annoying as they are then constantly looking for me to find things they have packed somewhere🙄.

I'm guessing this is just a phase and she'll most likely grow out of it soon enough. Keep anything you don't want packed out of her way and tell her to stick to her own stuff! Maybe gradually encourage her to cut down on the number of bags?

Reading your OP again I do wonder if it could be a security thing - just having her things with her. Maybe a tiny special bag with a couple of favourite things to bring with her and everything else stays at home?

With regards to the food I think I might be a bit stricter - could you try having a rule of food having to be eaten only in the kitchen at the dining table for a while? Do regular sweeps for anything that sneaks elsewhere. I had to do this after a spate of finding half eaten apples all over the place.

Four year olds are strange creatures!

imip Thu 19-Jan-17 22:17:23

4dds here and they all do it. Drives me nuts! They don't unpack them. I've lost stuff for ages and then found them much later. Most recently I discovered a library book obdurate by about 8 months!

My 6yo, almost 7, still does it!

Lazybeans50 Thu 19-Jan-17 22:19:47

My DD did this - we could never find anything. smile She still does it a bit but not so much (she's 9!). The funniest time was when DH thought to put her packing skills to good use when we were getting ready to go to a holiday cottage for a week and asked her to pack some toys, books and cuddlies in her small wheelie suitcase. Luckily we checked her bag just as we were all packed into the car as the only thing she decided to pack on that occasion was an inflated yellow balloon!

Embolio Thu 19-Jan-17 22:23:57

hahaha! Balloons are a favourite here too - what else could one need whilst on holiday? wink

Puffykins Thu 19-Jan-17 22:25:52

GreenfingeredFun I did as you suggested and OMG she's clearly destined for mathematical/ scientific greatness! Hurray!! And THANK YOU. I'll stop resisting the bag packing. God forbid I should stand in the way of a one day Nobel prize . . . . (She also spends most of her time in a tent in DS's bedroom, and endlessly wraps boxes in paper and Sellotape.)

phoenixnix Thu 19-Jan-17 22:33:53

OP I read your post out to DH because this is our DD exactly (she's nearly 6).

She has quite a collection of bags and purses and spends a lot of time filling them with random unconnected objects (not food although plastic play food is a favourite!) and then carries them around the house.

I've never worried about it although it is annoying at times. Never heard of enveloping schema but just googled and really interesting to learn it's a normal stage of development.

Puffykins Thu 19-Jan-17 22:38:52

All our compulsive packers are evidently going to go far in life . . .

phoenixnix Thu 19-Jan-17 22:52:34

I was just reading a link which mentioned covering tables in blankets and envelopes as part of an enveloping schema. DD often covers the coffee table in a blanket and she loves making little cards to go in envelopes! It's so funny to discover this is an actual thing.

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