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#31 of 60 Old 07-10-2010, 01:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i like your idea crayfish. this home is literally 3 times the square footage of our current home, so it's not like we can't say we don't have the space it is just the idea of it all.

i am very pissed with my husband at the moment. he knows how i feel about moving into a home full of junk. and he promised to help clean it and help his mom pack as much as possible before moving. today was supposed to be a big, productive day. if i got them "lots" of boxes and watched the kids all day long, they were going to get a lot done. and i have done them both. he calls me at lunch to tell me he spent his morning having coffee with his dad, doing some work around his shop, and visiting the neighbour there who is selling their home.

he knows i'm mad. he also very rarely breaks a promise to me. i feel i am completely within my grounds to tell him that when we move in, there is no more chances to wait for them to clean up anything that remains in the house, i am doing it. and they all know i am a much more brutal cleaner than they are. i trash and donate with vengeance.

he and his mom want the chance to be able to go through things himself, because some of it is sentimental and passed down in his family. he knows i may get rid of things that he may want to keep. he's lost that chance if it's not done in two weeks.

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#32 of 60 Old 07-10-2010, 01:55 PM
 
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Oh Leigh this is so sad, and has got to be hard on you.

I am going to go against the popular opinion here and say that this is not worth causing a riff between you and your dh. It is never, never a good idea to be in a situation were your dh is sided with his mother against you. That is a recipe for disaster. You have presented him with the situation and the information on how to deal with everything and it sounds like he just is NOT going to budge. I would not push it at this point or else end up in a situation were he views it as a us (he and his mother) vs. her (you) nightmare.

The only thing I would really force is that anything with mildew and mold on it MUST be sealed tightly in plastic before being put into storage anywhere in the house. Make sure that it is presented as a safety/health concern and not you still trying to "control" them.

I'm sure at this point you feel like you are banging your head against a brick wall.

You know... your dh going through all of the things with your MIL is probably a good idea. The reason I say this is that maybe, just maybe by doing this he will see how bad things have gotten. My dh had no idea what a serious problem his mother had until he got into all the boxes and stacks of things himself. True he knew she had waaaaaay too much stuff but that is all he thought of it. Then as he went through the process of moving things he discovered over and over things that he had treasured as a child utterly ruined and smashed. I think the final breaking/waking point for him was finding his very much beloved grandfather's military tags stuck in a pile of a melted bag of "keep sake" candies in the bottom of a box. It was so painful to watch, it completely broke his heart to realize that his fantasy of his mom being the keeper of all things family and childhood was just that, a fantasy, and that the realty was that his mother was/is ill.

Maybe once he gets into things with her and sees what has happened and just how much his mother will actually want to put in the basement he will come around and realize a storage building is a pretty good idea after all.

Or maybe just maybe he will be right and all of the things he has wanted as an adult from his ancestors and childhood will be in great condition and his mother really did put them up carefully for him. And maybe just maybe he will be right and she will only put a few things in the basement and they will be gone in a few months. I hope this is what will happen. I am afraid for you that it will not though.

It sounds like you are going to have a couple of really loooooong months in the near future.

Loved wife to JT and grateful mother to M (dd age 13) L (dd age 10) T (ds age 6) A (ds age 4) E (dd age 2) and C & S (twin boys born 10/13/10)
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#33 of 60 Old 07-10-2010, 01:57 PM
 
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I really feel for you.

Do you have an auction house for your area?

I am thinking that you mark your calendar for 5 1/2 months from now and make an appointment for the auction house to come to your basement in 6 months and 1 day.... I will be surprised if they don't have to take the whole lot of what she stored down there.

It has to be tough to have the space available for her to do this...but hoarders see a possibility in everything, all the what-ifs, all the renovating, and re-inventing and use it "might" have "if only" -- and the ones who have it the worst truly cannot distinguish trash from treasure

Good luck!!
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#34 of 60 Old 07-10-2010, 02:25 PM
 
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Oh, I'm so sorry.

I understand that you're pissed at your DH, and I understand why. But I also urge a bit of compassion. It can be really hard to grow up and see our parents as human, and to be faced with the fact that their quirks might be something more. It can be even harder to see our parents age, and see something morph from a quirk into a problem. Although you're part of their family now, you also have a bit more distance from the situation that he does (especially since I think you've gotten some good advice in this thread). He just sees his Mom, who took care of him and has always been there for him and who is either hurting, about to be hurt, or both.

The fact that he broke his promise to you and wasted all morning indicates to me that he knows there is a problem bigger than he can handle right now.

So while I would certainly not let him off the hook, I'd also urge a little bit of compassion. I think that, thanks to this thread, you realize that there is probably a larger problem here. But he isn't quite ready to come to that conclusion yet. When he gets home, I would try to be as calm and nice about it as possible: it depends on his personality, of course, but this seems like a case where putting him on the defensive about his morning and his mother's behavior will set him back from the realization that he has to come to.

AndI promise, I'm not saying that you don't have every right to be pissed, and I would be pissed too. I'm just saying that right now I think that your DH needs to be handled delicately if you want to move this along in a timely fashion. So I would suck it up and just pretend that he tried his hardest, and let him save some face as to why he broke his promise (and I am sure that he genuinely didn't intend to or didn't want to, and that his mother totally played him to keep him away from the mess). But it is just as you feared and the project is larger than you expected and will take some extra time. Which is fine: these things happen. And, in completely unrelated news, you were doing some research on the internet and you feel that it's really important to bring in a professional cleaning service to give the whole house a top to bottom clean before you move your young kids in there. Which means everything in the house needs to get out of the house, and into storage if it's not going straight to her house.

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#35 of 60 Old 07-10-2010, 02:31 PM
 
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I am going to go against the popular opinion here and say that this is not worth causing a riff between you and your dh. It is never, never a good idea to be in a situation were your dh is sided with his mother against you. That is a recipe for disaster. You have presented him with the situation and the information on how to deal with everything and it sounds like he just is NOT going to budge. I would not push it at this point or else end up in a situation were he views it as a us (he and his mother) vs. her (you) nightmare.
The difficulty that I see is that this may not just be an argument about getting the stuff down to the basement, it may well end up with an argument about getting stuff out of the _main rooms_ of the house.

I'm assuming that if on moving day the living room (and kitchen and bedrooms and bathrooms) is still full of his mother's stuff, and he and his mother object to the original poster "disturbing" that stuff so that she can move her own stuff in, you wouldn't say that that isn't worth arguing about?

Hoarders tend to have a bit of trouble with reality. I wouldn't be surprised if this hoarder felt that by selling her house to her son, rather than to a stranger, she'd effectively still own and control the house, and she wouldn't really have to change anything, other than allowing her son's family to tiptoe around the house as long as they didn't disturb her stuff.

I'm not saying that that was a conscious expectation that she held when she was signing the papers, but I wouldn't be surprised if she behaves with emotions of shock and betrayal and panic when that's not how it turns out. When she faces the prospect of her hoarded rooms being _emptied_, and cleaned, and painted, and changed, there may be a lot of hysteria.

And hoarders tend to raise their children to cater to their anxieties, to fear that the world's going to go hurtling out of its orbit if the hoarder doesn't get what they want. So the husband is going to want to give his mother what his mother wants. He's going to have a strong pull to give her "just one more week" to get the rest of her stuff out of the main rooms, and then another one more week, and another one more week.

So, IMO, it's simply not going to be possible to tiptoe around and let the husband and his mother make all the decisions, not if the original poster wants a home for herself and her family.

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#36 of 60 Old 07-10-2010, 03:07 PM
 
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So, IMO, it's simply not going to be possible to tiptoe around and let the husband and his mother make all the decisions, not if the original poster wants a home for herself and her family.

Crayfish
Ultimately, you are right.

I suppose what I was really trying to get across in my last post was that the OP really needs to try very hard for the next little bit to nudge dh back towards her camp. My fear is that if she pushes too hard that it will just drive a wedge into their relationship and pull him closer into his mother's world. I did/do not want to scare Leigh, but everything you said Crayfish rings true to me. I just figured it would be easier to take things one step at a time and spend the next few days drawing him closer to her and then tackling the fact that they can NOT move into the house until at the very least the living part of the house is cleared out and cleaned.

When we bought my MIL's property it was exactly as you described. She never in a million years thought her son would get rid of anything in that house and so felt "safe" letting us buy it. In the beginning we were just shuffling things around and slowly dh found more and more things destroyed and items that were just bizarre (an entire barrel full of doorknobs still in their packages!) and he began to see the truth. That is my hope for the OP. That once he feels safe in helping his mother hoard away all this stuff and actually gets his hands in the midst of the chaos he will see how bad it really is and then he will be in the position of being able to rationalize the situation outside of the realm of "How will this make mom feel".

The goal is to have a cleared out/safe home for the OP while still retaining the trust and companionship of her dh. How to pull that off will be very tricky because as Crayfish and others have noted his mother is going to try every trick in the book, will manipulate, will lie, and when it comes down to it cry, yell and do everything she can to hold on to her things. Until Leigh's husband realizes that his mother has a problem.... I just dont see how the situation can be resolved with a happy outcome.

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#37 of 60 Old 07-10-2010, 03:14 PM
 
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AndI promise, I'm not saying that you don't have every right to be pissed, and I would be pissed too. I'm just saying that right now I think that your DH needs to be handled delicately if you want to move this along in a timely fashion. So I would suck it up and just pretend that he tried his hardest, and let him save some face as to why he broke his promise (and I am sure that he genuinely didn't intend to or didn't want to, and that his mother totally played him to keep him away from the mess). But it is just as you feared and the project is larger than you expected and will take some extra time. Which is fine: these things happen. And, in completely unrelated news, you were doing some research on the internet and you feel that it's really important to bring in a professional cleaning service to give the whole house a top to bottom clean before you move your young kids in there. Which means everything in the house needs to get out of the house, and into storage if it's not going straight to her house.

Loved wife to JT and grateful mother to M (dd age 13) L (dd age 10) T (ds age 6) A (ds age 4) E (dd age 2) and C & S (twin boys born 10/13/10)
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#38 of 60 Old 07-10-2010, 03:17 PM
 
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If this were my husband's mom, who is also a hoarder, he would just make it clear that if she hasn't removed her things from HIS legally owned home, then by law it would all be his things to do with as he pleases. and then he'd toss them.

He actually did this to her once when they were living in an awful place while he was in high school. He forced her to find a new place to live while also throwing away a TON of stuff on her. She hated him for it but ultimately, she is doing much better. She hasn't built things back up... but that is partly because she now moves every 3 months or so.

If this were a stranger you bought from and you closed on the home (making it YOURS) you would be allowed to throw it away. They would be at fault for not removing anything. I'd treat this the same way. It is callous and doesn't take into account the serious issue she clearly has, but your family should come first. If she was willing to sell and move out then she needs to also be willing to get rid of her things.

I like the finding storage space option PP have mentioned. It gives her the chance to remove things... but making sure she understands all things left behind once the house has traded hands legally will be tossed/donated without her help/input. She will probably complain and carry on, but she was given the best solution and a full understanding of the consequences.

It is your house and your family. You deserve to have it to herself. She can move her things elsewhere or lose them.
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#39 of 60 Old 07-10-2010, 03:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i should explain my MIL a bit, she is tired of all her things. they seem to weigh her down, she has had enough of them. we have talked of buying her home before because her house is beautiful, large, and a gorgeous property once it is loved a bit. she knows full well it needs tlc. she says she fully doesn't blame me if i pitch all her things out the door.

it is just the physical act of doing it that everyone seems to be procrastinating about. when our home was listed for sale, i offered to help her sort through things, pack up anything she didn't want anymore, etc. but she wasn't ready. now our home is sold and we are moving. she is done with her stuff but can't seem to face the actual act of going through it, sorting, or getting it out the door. she's told me more than once she wishes it was just over with, that someone would to it for her. i've offered and said i would do it. but she also wants the chance to go through things herself, which i can understand. now dh also wants to go through things too, i can understand that too since some things are from his childhood and his family history.

i can't understand why no one gets to it, throws out the things that are obvious trash and gets rid of things that no one wants. we have made the offer to just take out the things she wants to keep and let me take care of the rest, but have been stalled up on that one too.

it seems she does, yes, want everything gone. but it is very hard on everyone to do it. i also can see it's easier for me because i have absolutely no emotional attachment to anything there

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#40 of 60 Old 07-10-2010, 03:44 PM
 
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Once again I can only go from personal experience. But, this also sounds very much like my MIL. She has said, for at least as long as I have been in her life and dh says he always remembers her saying it, that she wants to get rid of the surplus. She even got a storage building when I first met dh and filled it with items for yardsale to the point of having tags on all the items. Not only is that storage building still being rented but it is still full of the same things she put in there over a decade ago. What is more she has gotten at least 2 more storage buildings (that we know of) that are filled in the same way.
I think that is one of the sadder aspects of this illness. Often times they really do want to get rid of stuff but then when it comes down to it they just can not bring themselves to do it. MIL will occasionally sell a few things but they are always things that are just trash and then she gets discouraged because she didn't make the money she felt like her effort afforded.

To my knowledge she has had to have other people move for her every single time she has moved. She just can not do it. It overwhelms her. She starts to pack and then like I said before she gets "lost" in the memories and attachment to everything as she tries to pack and it just turns into a nightmare for her.

And keep in mind just because she kept things from dh's childhood and family history does not mean that those things will still be in any condition that anyone can still use/appreciate them.

I really, truly hope I am wrong and that she means everything she is saying, but to be honest it all sounds exactly like the things my MIL has said.

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#41 of 60 Old 07-10-2010, 03:56 PM
 
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There is a book called Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and The Meaning of Things. Might be worth reading in order to understand the mentality behind this.

There are professional organizers who specialize in hoarding. Not every organizer has had any training with hoarders so you need to look around for someone with the experience and training to help. Explain the situation, maybe pay them for an hour to discuss this, maybe show them the house and see if they can help in any way. They should at least have some ideas for you on how to go about this.

Personally I would be tempted to rent a storage facility in her name, hire some movers, and move every bit of it into the storage. Then clean the house and move in. But honestly I think your real problem is your DH. This is his mother and he needs to deal with her. If you and he are not on the same page you could be looking at years of conflict over this. Not to mention moving into this house full of stuff.
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#42 of 60 Old 07-10-2010, 04:03 PM
 
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it is just the physical act of doing it that everyone seems to be procrastinating about.
That sounds, to me, like the separation between intention and action that are typical of a hoarder. The fact that she knows that she's better off without the stuff doesn't make her one bit more able to actually _act_ to get rid of the stuff, or one bit more able to allow someone else to act to get rid of it. (Or, I should add, even to _move_ it. For a hoarder, even rearranging stuff can be stressful to the point of impossible.)

Hoarders also seem to have a problem with generalizing and learning from the past. Your mother in law could go through a hundred, a thousand, "just keep it for six more months", and still be unable to understand that those thousand failures mean that this next six months is also going to be a failure, and still be hurt and insulted that you don't believe that she's going to get it done in the next six months.

That's one of the things that's so hard about dealing with a hoarder - they seem to truly believe their promises, and truly be indignant when you won't give them yet another chance to carry through with those promises. My mother - a hoarder - also once admitted to me that when she forms the intention of doing something, she feels that _she's already done it_. Which might explain the strange phenomenon of the hoarder seeming insulted, angry, and indignant, when you expect them to actually do the work that they promised to do. In her mind, its done, and what are you nagging her about?

Mom has also more than once angrily exclaimed, "But I quit my _job_ to clean my house!" as if that somehow gives her credit for cleaning the house. When I point out that she quit that job five years ago, and no house cleaning of significance has been done, she doesn't seem to consider that to be a valid argument. She quit the job, she made the big gesture, so why am I nagging her to actually do the work?

I don't think that the time will ever come when your mother in law takes any significant action, or consents to you or anyone else taking any significant action. You will, in the end, have to act without her permission. It's fine to give her a chance or two, so that you know in your own mind that you did your best to let her do the job in her own way, but, again, you always need a contingency plan, because it's the contingency plan that's going to actually get the job done.

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#43 of 60 Old 07-10-2010, 04:12 PM
 
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That's one of the things that's so hard about dealing with a hoarder - they seem to truly believe their promises, and truly be indignant when you won't give them yet another chance to carry through with those promises. My mother - a hoarder - also once admitted to me that when she forms the intention of doing something, she feels that _she's already done it_. Which might explain the strange phenomenon of the hoarder seeming insulted, angry, and indignant, when you expect them to actually do the work that they promised to do. In her mind, its done, and what are you nagging her about?
That has been my experience with my MIL. Very well described and couldn't agree more.

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#44 of 60 Old 07-10-2010, 04:45 PM
 
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he knows i'm mad. he also very rarely breaks a promise to me.
Another quick note: Your husband was raised by a hoarder. Therefore he, too, may not fully understand that intentions must be followed by actions in order to "count" - or at least, he may be fuzzy on the concept when his mother is involved.

He formed the intention of doing a lot of work today. He got you to take care of the kids. He got the boxes. He went over. He spent time with his parents in the vicinity of the house.

He may not fully understand that none of those gestures count unless the work gets done. In his mind, he may consider himself ninety percent successful with his goals for the day, even though to more logical minds, he was zero percent successful.

I'm not saying any of this to suggest that you should cut him any slack whatsoever - he broke his promise, and he deserves the consequences of that, and catering to the broken hoarding thought processes is, IMO, unhealthy. I'm just wondering if it would help any, for next time, if you make it clear that you don't feel that he's even begun the job until he's actually packing and tossing - that none of the lead-in counts, not the tiniest bit.

I know that my mother would be utterly unable to comprehend that concept, but it sounds like your husband is mostly just trained in hoarder habits, rather than actually having the brain of a hoarder.

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#45 of 60 Old 07-10-2010, 09:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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a very positive note ... i went over this afternoon and basically said, let's get going. we took two pick up truck loads to the dump, one load to thrift store. we boxed numerous things to go for auction, not to be touched until sale time. (mostly because i don't want to go through reconsidering keeping them).

i was raised by a very efficient woman who believes if you haven't used it for a year, out it goes.

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#46 of 60 Old 07-10-2010, 09:17 PM
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that's great! getting work done.
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#47 of 60 Old 07-10-2010, 09:50 PM
 
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Awesome! Now THAT is the type of good news I like to hear. Congratulations on a good job done well.

Loved wife to JT and grateful mother to M (dd age 13) L (dd age 10) T (ds age 6) A (ds age 4) E (dd age 2) and C & S (twin boys born 10/13/10)
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#48 of 60 Old 07-10-2010, 11:00 PM
 
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I would really recommend having an auction. Move the things she wants to keep to her new place, and then the auctioneering company comes, pulls out and sorts everything else, sells it in one day, and gets rid of everything that's left. At least that's how they do it around here, maybe they do things differently in other areas. She doesn't have to be there if it'll be too painful to watch her "treasures" sell for pennies.

ETA: I didn't see the last posts until after I commented. Sounds like you're getting things done!

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#49 of 60 Old 07-11-2010, 01:54 PM
 
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a very positive note ... i went over this afternoon and basically said, let's get going. we took two pick up truck loads to the dump, one load to thrift store. we boxed numerous things to go for auction, not to be touched until sale time. (mostly because i don't want to go through reconsidering keeping them).

i was raised by a very efficient woman who believes if you haven't used it for a year, out it goes.
That is great news!
You must be feeling relieved!!!
Here's to continued progress!!!
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#50 of 60 Old 07-11-2010, 04:42 PM
 
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a very positive note ... i went over this afternoon and basically said, let's get going. we took two pick up truck loads to the dump, one load to thrift store. we boxed numerous things to go for auction, not to be touched until sale time. (mostly because i don't want to go through reconsidering keeping them).

i was raised by a very efficient woman who believes if you haven't used it for a year, out it goes.
Woohoo! That's very, very impressive.

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#51 of 60 Old 07-11-2010, 05:54 PM
 
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I would be firm with her about not leaving anything in the house when she moves.

Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
13yo ds   10yo dd  8yo ds and 6yo ds and 1yo ds  
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#52 of 60 Old 07-11-2010, 06:22 PM
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Call 1-800-GOT-JUNK


Have them take everything she leaves.

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#53 of 60 Old 07-11-2010, 06:45 PM
 
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I saw your update- but I was going to suggest posting on freecycle. Say the house is open on these days come and get it!

Decluttering 500/2010
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#54 of 60 Old 07-12-2010, 09:55 AM
 
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Freecycle is great for individual things but 1-800-GOT-JUNK are your guys for moving a LOAD of varied stuff that you don't have to sort through.

As I understand it, they don't just trash it. Well, the trash goes in the trash, but they will sell, reuse, whatever anything usable. That is a relief for many hoarders - they would far rather give something away and have it still be used than to have it in the landfill.

For Freecycle, you have to list exactly what's going - or I guess you could just announce an "open house," but the got junk guys will just load it up and take it away and leave nothing behind.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#55 of 60 Old 07-12-2010, 10:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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we are planning to have an auction, there is so very much furniture. they used to collect broken antique furniture with the intention of repairing, refinishing, etc. and didn't get to doing any of it. so they have tons and tons of it. here, dump fees are by weight so disposing would be both expensive and a bit of a shame, because some of it would be nice if someone would take the time to finish it up.

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#56 of 60 Old 07-12-2010, 10:51 AM
 
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so sorry to read the first update. i was worried about exactly that when i was talking about how this behavior is inherited.

and, good for you for taking charge and getting things moving. stay strong!

mom to Andrew   born Feb 6th, already a mom to child with fur; and still missing and still wondering about the lost possibilities Mar 17, 2009
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#57 of 60 Old 07-12-2010, 10:57 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post

For Freecycle, you have to list exactly what's going - or I guess you could just announce an "open house," but the got junk guys will just load it up and take it away and leave nothing behind.
No you dont. A poster in our area did just that last week; 'We are moving, have too much stuff the garage is open come and get what you want'

pretty simple solution.

Decluttering 500/2010
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#58 of 60 Old 07-12-2010, 11:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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many people in our freecycle group also do open house type ads, usually after garage sales. they just list the address and come after a certain time to claim the garage sale leftovers.

WAHM to a toddler, preschooler, and kindergarten student. 
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#59 of 60 Old 07-12-2010, 12:01 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happysmileylady View Post
Have you considered calling one of the hoarding shows or clean house or clean sweep? At the very least, you will have the help of people who are accustomed to dealing with people who are like that.
I have started watching these shows and was about to suggest this, too. They will get her some "help" as well. From what I saw on the hoarders show, it is a pretty debilitating thing. So sad .

Darcy mama to Dillon, Marah and Leo, partner to Jeremy
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#60 of 60 Old 07-13-2010, 10:21 AM
 
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Another thought is ADD/ADHD
This is huge when it comes to procrastinating and being able to organize and manage time~ and I think it ties in with what Crayfish was saying about feeling like the task is *accomplished* just because you have thought about it or taken steps toward it

I think multiple issues contribute to the whole hoarding/clutter problem...and where you are making progress with your MIL, hopefully it is closer to the procrastination piece than how debilitating hoarding can become...

My own experience has been growing up in a home with 5 kids and a mom who was often mentally ill and who grew up with hoarder parents and 9 kids in her family....I think my mom had ADD/ADHD which would account for not being able to manage when she was well, and then having a hoarder's home as a model plus those tendancies to hoard...I think she did better than her mom, and I have done better than her but it's been a life long struggle and I do believe I am ADHD as well.

Wishing you continued success with MIL!
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