Children of Hoarders Tribe? (Even borderline hoarders) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 08-24-2010, 03:45 PM - Thread Starter
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My mother is a borderline hoarder. I'm convinced. She's also a compulsive shopper and loves the dollarstore for this reason.

She buys random items that she "needs" and never uses. Sometimes she gifts them (ie Gives them to me)

It's not "official" because the house is livable and always has been...however, I think that if she were ever single (3 "husbands" in my life...two official and one commonlaw) that it would get that way.

I have the same behavior but DH and I call it being a packrat. We both do it, moreso. There was a long period in our relationship (even before we were married) that I had to give him my debit card to hold on to because I was running out of money. I can't keep cash on hand EVER. When I have a compulsive episode I can walk into a store with $20 and walk out with a bag...if you ask me what I bought I can't tell you.

One thing that started to "cure" me was when DH and I moved, within a week. We had to really evaluate how much crap we actually had. We ended up throwing away SO MUCH...and then more when we moved again a year later. I went through storage recently (another year has passed) and turned 6 bins into 4, gave away a huge bag of stuff, and threw out several bags of trash.

So, that's me. Anyone else want to share?

Kas (24), Helpmeet to Stefan (25), Mom to Franklin Gaudelio 4/15/09, Jonathan Boswell 1/2/11
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#2 of 10 Old 08-24-2010, 03:57 PM
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My mom is a borderline hoarder and compulsive shopper. She spends A LOT of money and time at Marshalls, TJMaxx, dollar stores and Five Below. She hunts for "deals" and then gives mountains of crap to me and my siblings (and now mostly to our kids). My parents are in serious financial trouble mainly because my mom never stops shopping. She goes shopping every single day. And she has 5 kids and 13 it really adds up.

Her house is very cluttered - not as bad as the hoarders on A&E - but there is stuff shoved in every corner and closet.

I, on the other hand, am a total minimalist. Probably because of seeing what can happen if you hold on to things, I hold on to very little. My husband thinks I'm ruthless. But it's so cleansing for me and gives me a sense of control. I used to hold on to things (high school and college-aged) because I thought that was what you were "supposed" to do. I mean, what kind of heartless person gets rid of the ticket stubs from the first concert she went to with her boyfriend? But eventually I realized that those tickets stubs and mementos were clogging up my space and then I went crazy from there. Now I have photo albums, but otherwise almost no "sentimental" things. I've pared down our clothes, books, appliances, furniture etc. to the basics.

It feels so good! And while my DH teases me about it, when he visits my parents' house he always comments that he's glad I went the opposite way.

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#3 of 10 Old 08-24-2010, 04:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by berry987 View Post
I used to hold on to things (high school and college-aged) because I thought that was what you were "supposed" to do.
I held on to things that I might eventually use...I collected little baskets to "organize" things and ended up with stacks of them in the closet and piles of them filled with random crap. I collected bags (my mom does as well and sent me several that have since been donated because I never use them) I also followed my mom in collecting random knicknacks...most of which that have been given away.

I have a hard time giving away "gifts" even when they're years old, have no sentimental value, and/or are absolute crap.

Kas (24), Helpmeet to Stefan (25), Mom to Franklin Gaudelio 4/15/09, Jonathan Boswell 1/2/11
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#4 of 10 Old 08-24-2010, 04:02 PM
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I'll join up. My mom is... a packrat. she doesn't hoard things like magazines, newspapers, garbage, etc, but has a very hard time getting rid of things that "might be useful". She's gotten a lot better lately, though, because she had to merge three households worth of stuff and realized she could barely walk in her house... When I was growing up she didn't buy much because there wasn't a lot of money available and fewer shopping options in our small town, but really, I think it's a saving grace that she's so careful about purchases or she'd be overwhelmed with all the stuff she "might need someday"

Jenna ~ mommy to Sophia Elise idea.gif  (1/06), Oliver Matthew  blahblah.gif (7/07) and Avery Michael fly-by-nursing1.gif(3/10)


dizzy.gif Wading slowly and nervously into this homeschooling thing.

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#5 of 10 Old 08-24-2010, 04:15 PM
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My mom is.... maybe not quite a hoarder. But a packrat, at the very least.

The basement of my parents' house is FILLED with boxes of stuff. And it's a huge basement. And by stuff I mean toys from when my siblings and I were kids, old clothes that are 1) out of style and 2) do not fit ANYONE in the family anymore, old & empty perfume bottles, books..... the list goes on. Most of it is pure junk, honestly. But she will/can not get rid of it. Because what if someone needs it someday??

The house is liveable, but is really, really cluttered.

I think I inherited the clutter trait from her, and it's a constant battle for me to keep things less cluttered. I LOVE the minimalist look and am striving to get my house as simple as possible.

Mom to dd (8), ds (6), and dd (1)

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#6 of 10 Old 08-24-2010, 08:17 PM
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My dad comes from a long line of hoarders, but perhaps an ADHD type--they shove and stuff things, collect up random things (especially books) and print stuff off the internet and it ends up everywhere. I do his kitchen and purge it when I'm there, but there is a mountain of crazy business on his desk, three computers, two dead printers, etc. Their end of the family just doesn't put stuff away, I think.
My mom, on the other hand is a "stuff" lady. She keeps stuff, hangs on to sentimental things, extra sets of dishes (because they are family type of things) and while mostly well-organized, she has a stuff-value that I no longer have. She is also one who will be tricked by retail sales for "40% off" or whatnot and think she got a good bargain.
Dad understands my minimalism, mom thinks I'm somehow making my kid miss out on important things (china, silver, tablecloths, fancy crap all over, matching this or that, coordinating bathroom rugs and that stuff, etc., etc. The stuff of people who have "class" I guess you might say). Put me in a tiny cabin with limited space and I'm happy. Give me too much room and I can easily get swept away into this burning need to fill it in the matching, "classy", whatever way I was raised with. It's been sometimes a constant fight, and has cost me a lot of money over the years. For now, we're pretty simple. Thankfully.

SMC to dd 4/07.
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#7 of 10 Old 08-25-2010, 12:10 AM
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My parents weren't exactly hoarders, but they were both into collecting things, decorative things like china, but our home was never cluttered. I think that may have been because my father kept changing jobs, sometimes between countries, moving house over and they never got a chance to really accumulate a lot. I remember at one stage my father used to keep a filing cabinet full of clippings and pictures cut from magazines, for us to use for assignments etc. I do have strong memories of my father often criticising my mother for spending too much; they weren't very happy together (they ended up divorcing) so maybe she seeked an escape in shopping, however it never seemed to me that she bought that much, and she was always working fulltime so she didn't have much time to shop!

I think that some of the seeds sown by the insecurity I felt as a child, with the constant moving, and the constant arguments between my parents, did lead to my own hoarding tendencies. Plus I lived in a difficult situation for 20 years, after I met my current DH, we lived above offices and it wasn't our own home, so I felt the need to accumulate things, to feel like I could have things that were mine, seeing as I didn't have my own home. Of course it was a vicious circle, the constant spending on things was stopping us from getting closer to having our own home that I so wanted.

I suppose I have been a hoarder, not extreme hoarder, but I realise now I have definitely been a compulsive shopper (something I still battle with) and I still have cupboards full of things I need to sort through.

When I first started posting here, I was more in the mindset of thinking that it will just motivate me to declutter. But I am realising more and more that it is not just about decluttering, although that is a major part of is working out why we have got to this point in the first place. So that we can make sure that once we declutter, we don't just repeat the same pattern all over again.

SAHM to three
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#8 of 10 Old 08-26-2010, 12:03 AM
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My mom has a really hard time letting go of things. She isn't a huge shopper so the total amount of stuff in the house hasn't really increased.

She can't bear to part with certain items even though she doesn't use them or need them. We had a garage sale 4 years ago and my mom seriously freaked out and ended up crying in her room. I can't name a single thing we sold or gave away that was important. She has cheap chipped dishes that she refuses to get rid of because they were her mother's. But she also has nice dishes from her mother and I've bought her more to the set so that she could have a set of dishes in good condition and hold onto something from her mom.

She also saves stuff for projects that she never finishes. Like 20 years later, unfinished projects that she won't part with. An old, rusted, ruined bike that she never rides but won't let go of.

Also when I get rid of stuff she tries to talk me out of it or take it. I have to tell her like 8 times in 8 different ways that I don't need/don't want/won't use it and then refuse to let her take it if I don't actually think she'll use it. My dad really does not want me to give her stuff. Then weeks later I'll hear about whatever I got rid of and suggestions for what to do with it. I have to be very firm. "Mom it is gone".

Melissa- mom to a boy 9/06 and a new boy 11/10 and married to my best friend 7/02
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#9 of 10 Old 08-27-2010, 01:21 PM
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My in-laws are the ones with the problem. We recently (a month ago) bought & moved into their home, they downsized into an apartment. My mom (who is the other extreme - clean an organized like you would not believe) has been helping me clean nearly since we moved in and we are still not done. It is unbelievable.

I find that I have lost all sympathy for them. They are very nice people, but they do seem to feel down on their luck. They complain they never have had enough money and more than their share of sickness. It seems like a big eye opening, and I just think they brought some of it on themselves.

For the money -- so much was spent on magazine subscriptions that were never read, musical instruments (never played, just collected in the hopes of learning), knick knacks, glass and bronze pieces, dishes, movies (not even opened), furniture (just piled up in a shed), books that weren't read, dollar store junk, etc etc ... how can you complain you have nothing when you are spending what you do have on useless things you don't need?

For the health ... they don't believe regular exercise or healthy eating has an effect on your health and therefore don't do either, and live in a dirty environment. These are all things they have control over, but honestly don't care about.

I find I have just lost sympathy for them and wish they would stop complaining. It seems heartless of me I'm sure, but I'm of the opinion that complaining gets you nowhere.

WAHM to a toddler, preschooler, and kindergarten student. 

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#10 of 10 Old 08-29-2010, 02:00 AM
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Do children-in-law count?
My husband's parents are hoarders/compulsive shoppers. Their house, while usually "neat", is stuffed to the gills with the things they collect.
Her: anything antique. The walls are covered with rug beaters. Every window sill is lined with old bottles. One spare bedroom has near 100 old photos of people unrelated to the family on the walls. Furniture of all sorts. It's difficult to walk in some rooms to get between all the furniture. Antique kitchen gadgetry hangs from the ceiling in the kitchen. Doilies stacked in the closet. It's all tidy, in a sense, but there's just. so. much.
Him: knives...thousands of pocketknives are in gallon ziplock bags in the rec room in the basement. Knives in cases on display. He keeps buying more knives by the lot on Ebay. Like lots of 100 or more. Flashlights in every conceivable nook and cranny, in every type and size. DH and I used his truck once to pick up a couch. In the console, I counted 36 packet of ketchup from fast food drive thrus, and there were innumerable paper napkins stashed throughout the truck along with salt packets. Hundreds of salt packets. His garage is not used for vehicles, rather it is a warren of workbenches piled at least 2-3 feet high with bits and pieces of mechanical/electrical/woodworking stuff.

They have an enormous chest freezer stuffed with food. It's just the two of them, but there is literally more food there than they could eat in a year, it seems. When the big "Y2K" scare was on, they went in with a group from their church on mass quantities of staples such as rice, powdered milk, oats and flour. They stored it in the closet under their stairs in 5 gallon plastic pails. They are still there, at least 25-30 pails. They offered some to us last year. Needless to say, it wasn't any good. We chucked it, but the ones they kept are still there. They buy large quantities of dollar store toys and junk for each grandchild for birthdays and Christmas. We've been fairly outspoken in our wish to avoid consumerism in our home, and a focus on natural materials. I'd much rather DS receive high quality wool long undies and a wooden truck than 3 boxes of 25 plastic toys, or Elmo this or that, or whatever. It's created monsters at gift-opening, rip! rip! toss! what's next? that's all? pout. We sooo don't want that for our kid.

DH has inherited some of their tendencies, but I am much more minimalist and continually purge and donate. He doesn't notice when I get rid of most of his things that I've purged. I usually set a date and say "if you haven't addressed this pile by Friday, I am going to take care of it, okay?" and follow through.

DHs parents are helping us a lot with items for our new home right I feel bad venting about them. But, on the other hand, they are trying to put some hoard in here too, so I have to constantly keep it in check. It's hard, because we do have a lot of room and storage space in our large home, but that doesn't mean we want to fill it up with stuff. We have a lot to purge on our own! We don't have much leeway with our budget, and no extra to spend right now. We've made that abundantly clear to them, but they wave it off, saying that it makes them happy to help us and give us things.

My mother in law checks Craigslist compulsively, and emails me at least once daily to tell me about this "great buy" she found on x, y or z thing that she thinks I might need. She has found some great deals on things we did really need, like laundry machines and a lawn mower, so it's not all bad.

On their last visit, they brought (in addition to the things we needed, like a washer, canning jars and a large wool rug) 48 cans of tuna, 10 lbs of dried cherries, 2 gallons of hand soap (which I wouldn't accept because it was all chemically), 48 rolls of toilet paper and 6 large bags of clothes for DS, ranging from 2T to 4T that MIL had found at garage sales and resale shops. Yikes!

Sorry this is so long, don't mean to hijack. Just adding a big "amen!" to decluttering and fighting the hoard. I'm going to be spending more time in this area of MDC for sure.

Married to P and mama to DS (1/09)blahblah.gifand DD  (09/13 babygirl.gif). I'm into friends and family, gardening, exercise, yoga, reading, knitting, photos, traditional foods, breastfeeding, home birth, babywearing, and much more. 
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