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#1 of 60 Old 07-06-2010, 04:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We bought our inlaws home, my MIL is a major hoarder ... broken furniture, dollar store "treasures", knick knacks, paperbacks, newspapers, gifts from people she has never used, dolls, tons and tons of dishes, etc etc etc.

Anyways, they are moving out and we are moving in in three weeks. She is not motivated at all to pack, donate to charity, garage sale, nothing. She feels she has lots of time. It's a good day when she packs a box, or takes one trip to charity.

I am panicking feeling that I am going to be inheriting all her junk as well as the house. She has already brought up the idea she could store stuff in what will be our basement until she figures out what she would like to do with it. I fear she will never part with it. She also would like to sell a lot of her things, like the broken furniture, dollar store knick knacks and dolls that are full of mildew from sitting in the basement, at an auction. She has a belief that she will get lots of money for these things.

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#2 of 60 Old 07-06-2010, 04:30 PM
 
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I'd set firm boundaries against her using what will be your house to store her stuff.

I don't think you can cure a hoarder that doesn't want to be cured (any more than an alkie, etc.) so I would go ahead and get rates for a local storage unit. No, not for you to rent on MIL's behalf (no WAY) but just so that when she's like "but I have nowhere to PUT IT!!" you can give her all the info. Oh, and maybe get a rate on a local, one day uHaul.

Tell her upfront, so she has time to absorb this and act on it: "Hey, MIL, you had mentioned (or hinted at) storing some stuff here, but I really don't think that's going to work. We're going to need the space for our work projects/own stuff/whatever. I just wanted to give you a head's up so you had the opportunity to make plans for it. There's a storage box just down the way and they only charge ___ a month if you need temporary storage."

I still think there's a good chance she'll still leave it and say "well, I'll get to it next week/month/year/whatever." Now it gets tricky. You could consider - if your health and circumstances allow - telling MIL "Remember what we talked about, we need to get this stuff stored. I am willing to rent a Uhaul for the day, and DH and I are willing to help you with the moving. All you need to do is call ___ (shove phone number on paper in front of her) and get an account for a storage box. Let's arrange it for Saturday." No, you shouldn't have to deal with it but your choices are kind of to let it slide or deal.

Either that or don't buy your hoarder MIL's house, but I assume that ship has sailed.

Good luck.

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#3 of 60 Old 07-06-2010, 04:34 PM
 
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I forgot to mention... I would do an ultimatum "get rid of it or we'll trash it" only as a very last resort.

If things get that desperate, I would rather rent a uHaul and drive it to her new place and leave it at the curb than actually trash it. Keep that as your ace - "get a storage unit rented or we'll leave it on your curb." Harsh, yeah, but still better than trashing it.

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#4 of 60 Old 07-06-2010, 07:00 PM
 
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Are you sure we dont have the same MIL?

Seriously though, I hope I wont come across as mean in this post but if she is at the same level of hoarding as my own MIL then you will completely "get" what I am about to say.

She is not going to pack this stuff up, she is not going to find a new "home" for this stuff, and she is not going to take responsibility for the large mass of "things" in that home. If I am getting the picture right we are not talking about a u-haul load of stuff we are talking multiple u-haul's full of stuff. Am I right?

The problem is that she most likely has no idea how to sort through in her mind the valuable things from the trash. Not to cut on people like our MIL's they are who they are. I dont think that deep down they want to be like this. Its just somehow, someway over the years they started attaching either sentimental value or a feeling of stability on/through their possessions. Imagine your mind your most prized/loved possession be it your wedding gown, baby's scrapbook, your wedding photos, whatever and now imagine feeling that way about EVERYTHING that ever passes through your hands. Deep down inside you know it is a problem, you know something has went wrong but you just no long feel capable of making that distinction and you are terrified of getting rid of something that will make you feel lost forever without it. And what is worse you feel resentful and angry towards anyone that tries to take away your treasures.

We bought property from our in-laws as well and when we realized that there was no way around it dh had to make the decision for her. He packed everything up and moved it to storage. Period. No fighting, no yelling, no begging, just "Mom, we have given you plenty of time and I love you but I am packing everything up and moving it out." She was NOT happy. But she did get over it. There really was no choice. We had learned from experience that if she asked to keep a "few" things at a location it quickly turned into boxes and boxes of things and that just was/is not fair to our family.

So as unfair as it may be to you guys I would give a time limit and then rent as many storage buildings as it takes for ONE month and move everything to it. Tell her the building locations (make sure they are close to were she lives so she can not claim they were to far away) give her the keys and all the billing information and be very very serious with her that other than that first month you guys will NOT be paying the bill after that. We were lucky and my MIL had an extra house that we put everything in at no cost but had we been stuck without that option I would have totally been willing to pay a months storage bill to get rid of the stuff.

So it may sound mean, but its that or be content with the idea of moldy dolls and broken dollar store nik naks in your house for at least the next several years when ultimately you will have to move it out anyway.

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#5 of 60 Old 07-07-2010, 01:55 AM
 
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I strongly recommend hiring a cleaning service before you move in. It takes you out of the equation for "touching her stuff", removing you from liability in your family. I agree with a PP that a storage unit could be obtained, but I would suggest MIL arranges it. After all that junk in the house it could use a good scrub, and it'll save you a whole lot of angst if you don't have to clean up after her. It's a lot easier to say "the cleaning crew will be there on ____ date and time. let us know if we need movers for your things too" (of course after your official closing date, etc.) It might be a tad pricier than you'd like, but honestly worth it.

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#6 of 60 Old 07-07-2010, 02:02 AM
 
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Originally Posted by leigh09 View Post
We bought our inlaws home, my MIL is a major hoarder ... broken furniture, dollar store "treasures", knick knacks, paperbacks, newspapers, gifts from people she has never used, dolls, tons and tons of dishes, etc etc etc.

Anyways, they are moving out and we are moving in in three weeks. She is not motivated at all to pack, donate to charity, garage sale, nothing. She feels she has lots of time. It's a good day when she packs a box, or takes one trip to charity.

I am panicking feeling that I am going to be inheriting all her junk as well as the house. She has already brought up the idea she could store stuff in what will be our basement until she figures out what she would like to do with it. I fear she will never part with it. She also would like to sell a lot of her things, like the broken furniture, dollar store knick knacks and dolls that are full of mildew from sitting in the basement, at an auction. She has a belief that she will get lots of money for these things.
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.
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#7 of 60 Old 07-07-2010, 02:03 AM
 
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I say trash everything, hire a cleaning service. and painters. I just could not be in that environment with all that stagnant chi and negative energy from the whording, so toxic

Stay strong mama

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#8 of 60 Old 07-07-2010, 04:26 AM
 
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I say trash everything, hire a cleaning service. and painters. I just could not be in that environment with all that stagnant chi and negative energy from the whording, so toxic

Stay strong mama
I believe legally once the title transfers the home is yours... whatever is left in the property or on the premises is yours to do with as your please.

BTW where is MIL moving to? Ideally she should be 'on her way' to that new place by now. taking things over there daily.

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#9 of 60 Old 07-07-2010, 07:17 AM
 
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She will do nothing, or next to nothing. I hate to predict this, but I'm pretty near certain of it. You should assume that when the day comes that you take ownership, almost all of her stuff will still be there.

In fact, you should assume that she will resist your moving in, that she'll want "one more day" and then "one more day", forever and ever. She will complain that she didn't have enough time, that she was prevented by a sore foot or the church picnic or solar flares, that you're being cruel and unfair, that you don't respect her stuff, that you hate her... she will use every trick in the book to get you to delay your move-in. Forever.

You're going to need to move her stuff out and your stuff in against her vehement protests. SashaBreeze's plan sounds like a good one.

Edited to add: Do you already own the house? Just so you're not blindsided, you may also want to make sure that she doesn't now have the status of tenant, so that you'd have to evict her - or, if you get softhearted and give her a few "one more days", you may want to get legal advice so that you don't accidentally let her become a legal tenant.
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#10 of 60 Old 07-07-2010, 07:34 AM
 
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I have had a similar experience, except in my case it was when my hoarder mother (and my three younger mini-hoarder siblings) moved in with me. I had a two bedroom apartment so the arrangement was supposed to be very temporary while she moved out of her old place and into her new. She had tons of stuff and told me it was difficult to pack everything and still have the place livable for kids. Okay.

But it was a week later and boxes and boxes of stuff kept showing up at my home while I was at work. I did some digging and found out that my mother didn't have "a new place" and apparently planned on just living with me. With all of her stuff - that wouldn't have all fit in my apartment anyway!

Umm. NO. I ended up renting a storage unit for one month - making sure to explain that I was renting it in my mother's name so they wouldn't expect me to pay for it - and moving all of her stuff (from her old house and my appartment) to the storage unit. It was a lot of work, but so worth it to be able to walk through my home again.

I still had to deal with four extra people in my home, but the stuff was gone. I had already spent years before this trying to help my mother learn to let go of stuff and failing so I didn't see any other way to get through the situation. So I guess in my rambling way, I say go with SashaBreeze's plan too!

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#11 of 60 Old 07-07-2010, 07:39 AM
 
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Are you planning on having a cleaner in to do a real deep cleaning before you move in? Even if money is tight or you think you don't need it, you might want to consider it. Painters too. In the one case of hoarding that I personally know of (my best friend's MIL) the house was full of mold and mildew and really gross. There was only a little bit of black mold and that was easily removed, but overall the place was just gross and uninhabitable.

And then I would tell MIL that you have the cleaners and the painters coming on a certain date, and everything needs to be out by then. And make sure her friends and family know too, so that they can help. And then, operating under the assumption that she'll do nothing, quietly book a U-Haul and the storage units and arrange for everything to be cleared out the day before. I like the idea about paying for one month.

You might also want to warn any siblings-in-law generally on what is about to go down (depending on how much they enable her, either the whole plan or just what you're telling her), so that they can come through the house and collect anything they want.

Trying to live a simple life in a messy house in a complicated world with : DH, DD (b. 07/07), DS (b. 02/09), and DD (b. 10/10)
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#12 of 60 Old 07-07-2010, 11:07 AM
 
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I would set a date for her to basically clean out and move on. Whatever is left will be separated into donate, trash or sell. It is important for you to have a fresh start.

I speak from experience and though her feelings may be hurt at first, it is important to take this stand.
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#13 of 60 Old 07-07-2010, 05:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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you are all right the house could use a good cleaning. my mom has offered to come over and help me do it, she is one of those women who is basically a professional cleaner in herself like you would not believe ...

my MIL is moving to an apartment because it's time to downsize her home. she can't keep up with it anymore (it's a large, two storey home). we have a date set when things are to be done by. she says she feels too overwhelmed by it all and doesn't know where to start. we make suggestions like just start with one room, just start in one corner, we've offered to help, etc.

you have many great suggestions. we have come up with this idea to present to her:

she may have a certain area in the basement for 6 months. only that area, nothing else. and not past 6 months. the intention is that is for things she would like to have sold.

she feels too overwhelmed to arrange for selling things, donate, trash, and moving all at once now and we would like to be sensitive to that. so attempting to take some stress off, allow her to sell things at a later date. but with a deadline. we also have presented the idea of selling everything at an auction house. they will take 20% commission and charge to dispose of anything that does not sell, so be sure to only try to sell things that aren't junk. everything that remains in our basement past 6 months is being shipped to auction, if the result of the auction is a negative bill it is her bill to be paid.

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#14 of 60 Old 07-07-2010, 06:58 PM
 
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Just sayin', the 6 months in the basement sounds good but it's going to be dragged out and then you'll have to deal with it all over again (and again).

You could acheive the same release of pressure for her with a storage unit - without having it continue to be in your life.

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#15 of 60 Old 07-07-2010, 07:43 PM
 
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You could acheive the same release of pressure for her with a storage unit - without having it continue to be in your life.
I agree, she is going to drag it out- and even will try to add to the amount of space she is taking up

Far better to move it to a storage unit where it will be off of you, and the storage people can be the bad guys

I would offer to help pay for it even, if that was feasible, but you really *have* to get it out of your house...you are dealing with someone who has an illness in this regard; a person without this illness would not need 6 months
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#16 of 60 Old 07-07-2010, 08:17 PM
 
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I'm really sorry, but I agree with the two previous posters. She's not going to be "ready" in 6 months either, and then you'll be stuck with the stuff. And it will be ugly, and it will just upset you. I would move it to the storage facility now and offer to pay/split half for six months.

I totally get that this is a no-win situation and you're really up against a wall here. But I think you have to take definitive action right now or you'll be living with this stuff forever.

Trying to live a simple life in a messy house in a complicated world with : DH, DD (b. 07/07), DS (b. 02/09), and DD (b. 10/10)
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#17 of 60 Old 07-07-2010, 08:48 PM
 
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Any way to do one of those little storage "pods" and a dumpster? he reason I ask is that when my dh's grandmother moved out of her little 1950's cottage they (MIL, FIL and dh) disposed of 11 of the 12 foot roll off dumpsters full of G-MIL's "stuff". She knew it was happening, wasn't happy about it but was thrilled with her new (clean) little place. Otherwise, truly, your MIL will think that everything belongs in your basement to be sold because it's so precious to her.....
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#18 of 60 Old 07-07-2010, 09:37 PM
 
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I am going to have to make a few assumptions based on the information you have given, and if I am wrong please know I meant no harm and accept my apology.
But...

If she has a level of illness that my MIL has then the 6 month basement idea is not going to work. I say illness because that is what it truly is. This does not make her a bad woman or any other negative feeling that mental illness sometimes brings to mind, it just means that she is not always capable of making decisions that are in her and her loved ones best interest or/and that she has difficulty rationalizing what we see as a simple/obvious problem.

You indicated before that your MIL does not understand the true monetary value (or lack there of) of her possessions. I completely understand how frustrating this is to watch. With dh mother we found absolute "treasures" (his grandfathers war medals, an original Kim Ward Hollywood figurine!) mixed in with boxes and piles of absolute trash. It was heart breaking for my husband to realize that his mother had gotten to this point and even more so to realize that in the long run there was very little he/we could do about it.

So when she is left with the problem of deciding what to sell, what to take with her, and what to trash or give away I think her statement that she feels too overwhelmed is probably very very true to her. It is not as simple as start in 1 room or 1 corner. It is far more complex for her. Each item she touches is a memory or a feeling of completion/security. So perhaps she does start to pack and then gets "lost" among her things and then the feeling of being overwhelmed sets in and then..... well nothing gets done or at least very little.

To pick out things to put in the basement for later selling you run into another problem. Great aunt Sally's old Avon perfume bottle "might" be worth something, but it is highly doubtful that it is will be worth even a fraction of what she would be willing to sell it for. Add from that problem on how much is too much. Is two inches over the line you guys set to much? How about "just" 1 extra box? And if both of those situations are ok then why not 1 more box or just 2 more inches??? When does it stop?

Ultimately this is something you and your dh will have to work out. I do however caution you, like the previous posters said, to NOT allow things to be stored in the basement.

I know how unfair this sounds. If you or I or just about anyone we know needed a place to stash a few things for a little while to sell then it would not be a big deal. But in the long run that is not what we are really talking about. What will end up happening is that your basement will become a permanent storage facility for your MIL's memories trapped behind rotten cardboard and broken glass. Too sad of a thought for anyone to have to deal with.

Perhaps I am wrong though, and I hope I am. Perhaps your MIL has not taken her hoarding to the emotional level that my MIL has. If that is the case then your plan sounds very reasonable and I hope all the items sell very well. IF however she has come to the place that my MIL has.... well, unfortunately the basement idea will not work.

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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#19 of 60 Old 07-08-2010, 12:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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you all do have some good points, i should very much reconsider. especially as i know she won't sell things for what they are actually worth. off to look at the pricing of storage rentals ...

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#20 of 60 Old 07-08-2010, 01:17 AM
 
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My parents aren't huge hoarders, but when they moved, the moving company did a first run move for all the necessities to get them set up in their house. They did a 2nd visit to get any odds and ends. They were able to live in the new house with minimal stuff, which made purging easier to do.
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#21 of 60 Old 07-08-2010, 05:08 AM
 
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I agree that she won't have the stuff taken care of in six months. But I think that that's the least of the issues - the main problem is that she won't have her stuff reduced to a small enough volume to fit in that basement area. And she won't pack it for storage in the basement. And she is very likely to protest bitterly against you packing it for storage in the basement.

She will do nothing of any significance. I hope that I'm wrong here, but I'm quite certain that she will do no more than pack a few boxes by the day that you're supposed to move in.

You can give her some time or some space, but you need to assume in your own mind, with each and every decision and negotiation, that she will do nothing. Giving her time and resources is a symbolic act with no real practical use. It's for your own peace of mind, to know that you gave her the opportunity to fulfill her responsibilities.

But you need to know that she will almost certainly fail to fulfill those responsibilities. She will intend to fulfill them. She will believe that if you'd just given her one more day she would have fulfilled them. She will blame you for her failure. But if she's a hoarder, she's essentially incapable of translating her intent into action, ever.

So, you can give her until a specific day to have her stuff moved out of the main areas of the house, but you need to assume that she will not do so, and arrange to have it done yourself. You can give her six months to get her stuff out of the basement, but you need to assume that she will not do so, and arrange to move it yourself when the six months are up. And so on.

That's why it's much better to have her move the stuff to a storage unit, because that's what's going to happen anyway, after six months. So rather than walking it all down into the basement, and walking it all back up again in six months, it's better to move it straight to storage units. And, again, _she_ will not move the stuff to the storage unit. You will have to do all of that, probably against her objections.

The stuff will remain in the storage units, largely undisturbed, until her death. For that reason, you should _not_ pay for the storage units.

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#22 of 60 Old 07-08-2010, 10:05 AM
 
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She is truly overwhelmed.

Offer to hire (and pay for) a professional declutterer/cleaner/organizer person to help her to sort out of all her stuff - trash (which goes to the bin right away), pack her keep-stuff (to her apartment). move her sell-stuff to a storage for time being. It stays there until it is sold. Yes, mil pays for this because you never know how long its going to stya in storage.

Hiring a third person unrelated to you both will help her understand this better. If you or your mum does this, it will create unnecessary emotional tensions. I wouldn't want all that when moving into 'my' new house.

That mildew on dolls is stressing me out - the whole basement would have to be cleaned thoroughly. Glad you have your mum helping you.

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#23 of 60 Old 07-08-2010, 11:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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That mildew on dolls is stressing me out - the whole basement would have to be cleaned thoroughly. Glad you have your mum helping you.
It's funny you mentioned this. I have a 2 yo dd who she wanted to pass the dolls onto. I said no. I told her it is because my dd already has quite a few dolls and, being only 2, is likely to get more for birthdays and Christmases. She is pretty set for dolls and my MIL understood and was ok with that.

The real reason was that I think all those dolls belong in the trash and don't want my dd playing with them. But really, that doesn't sound quite so tactful.

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#24 of 60 Old 07-08-2010, 01:15 PM
 
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what Sasha said.
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#25 of 60 Old 07-08-2010, 07:24 PM
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i'm with the others.

one option is to go through with her and pick out basics for her apartment and have those moved over, and then have movers pack everything else and move them into storage in her name. they will pack junk (like broken furniture and moldy dolls), but will throw away trash like candy wrappers or anything so ruined you can't salvage it (cat-urine soaked pillows).

when she passes, then you can have an auction house clear the storage room and the apartment and they'll divide trash from treasure, and take their fee and you get the remainder.

but what is nice is that it's no stress on you this way.
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#26 of 60 Old 07-09-2010, 02:14 PM
 
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I agree with the other posters. Nothing will change 6 months from now - she will still ask for an extension at that point - I guarantee you she will not have dealt with her possessions!

If you have watched the hoarding show and also looked at the shows website you will see it is most definitely an illness.

You really need to give her a deadline to get everything out and that deadline MUST be "PRIOR" to you moving in. If she is as bad as some of the hoaders I have seen - you will want to really clean your home from top to bottom before moving in.

I agree with some of the other poster that a third party doing the packing etc is helpful as there is less resentment towards you. A neutral person is best. But regardless - take the bull by the horns and arrange for her stuff to be put in storage.

I am sure you can come up with a reason for why everything must be out prior to possession.

I would love to hear the outcome - keep us updated

PEP
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#27 of 60 Old 07-09-2010, 03:00 PM
 
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Just another caution that may or may not apply in your case.

this sort of behavior tends to be inherited. my hubby takes after him mom in this way and refuses to just throw things out that need to go.

i've already told him when his mom dies that all her crap isn't coming to live with us. but, he feels guilty about getting rid of the xyz. be prepared for your MIL to try to pressure your hubby to keep things b/c of sentimental value. he may give in easier if she convinces him to keep grandma's old whatever.

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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#28 of 60 Old 07-09-2010, 05:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catubodua View Post
Just another caution that may or may not apply in your case.

this sort of behavior tends to be inherited. my hubby takes after him mom in this way and refuses to just throw things out that need to go.

i've already told him when his mom dies that all her crap isn't coming to live with us. but, he feels guilty about getting rid of the xyz. be prepared for your MIL to try to pressure your hubby to keep things b/c of sentimental value. he may give in easier if she convinces him to keep grandma's old whatever.
my husband does have pack rat tendencies, but more milder than his mom. my most effective way of dealing with it is to put something away for a period of time. then i'll tell him it's going to the thrift shop, recycling, etc because he hasn't touched it in forever.

i am in the process of major purging because we are packing and moving. i asked him if he ever feels good getting rid of lots of stuff he doesn't need, because i love it. if i don't use it, and don't need it, there's no sense keeping it. and it is great to be able to give it to someone who will use it. he told me no, because he usually finds he needs it after he has thrown it away, so it's better to hold onto it. arg!!!!

i am working on purging our children's toys and old clothes. this is especially painful for dh, because what if they want to play with it someday? (they have way too many toys) what if we have another baby? what if our youngest likes some of the toys that our older children didn't really play with and i donated? what if ...? if i saved for all the what if's i would have too much stuff. and we don't need it!

he also doesn't agree with storage units. we have the space in our new basement, it won't be for long, so why pay the money? and she's family, it's the least we can do for her. it's like fighting a losing battle since he's right, it does cost money. and she is family ... and his mom. and he believes we'll be done with it in a few months. i hope so. but i feel like hitting my head against the wall just a little bit.

WAHM to a toddler, preschooler, and kindergarten student. 
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#29 of 60 Old 07-09-2010, 09:21 PM
 
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Thought One: If it's "not going to be that long", then it's not going to cost that much, so why not rent the storage unit?

Thought Two: What are your plans for the basement? Was it going to be your territory or his? If it's filled with his mother's stuff for the next twenty years, who will lose out on personal territory? I'd say that you should arrange things so that it's him that loses.

For example, if he was going to have a study in the spare bedroom, and you were going to have a craft room in the basement, that gets reversed - you get your craft room in the spare bedroom, and he gets his study in the basement, after his mother moves her stuff out. And, no, meanwhile he doesn't get to put his desk in your craft room. A craft room belongs in the basement where there's lots of space, he says? You'll happily move it down there when it's free, you say. Meanwhile, the spare bedroom is yours.

Or if half a two-car garage has to be filled with stuff that belongs to you and him, because it can't be stored in the basement, then you're the one that parks your car in the garage, and he's the one that parks outside and scrapes his windshield every morning.

No room for the winter clothes because the basement's full? He can store both of your winter clothes in his closet.

And so on. _He_ needs to be the one to suffer from the fact that he's about to permanently store his mother's stuff. He needs to be the one who's reminded and inconvenienced, every single day. You should not suffer, the least little bit.

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#30 of 60 Old 07-09-2010, 09:24 PM
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i agree with crayfish about the territoriality stuff. that makes great sense.

another option, too, is to put a time limit. she cna have that space for 6 months, and then it goes to storage.
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