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Embarrassing situation. Help appreciated.
Old 02-27-2016, 03:07 PM   #1
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Embarrassing situation. Help appreciated.

I have a Master's Degree. Our family's employment and financial condition are excellent. I love my family. However, I have one secret that is really gnawing at me.

You've seen or heard of the TV show "Hoarders"? That is me and my family. It's not necessarily that we want to keep things around, it's just that we haven't been able to generate the motivation to clean it up. Therefore it just gets worse and worse.

Oh, we get a burst of energy to clean every so often, but it lasts for only a couple of hours and is not sustained.

My tremendous fear is that something (plumbing, heating/air, etc.) is going to need repair and that we'll need to let somebody in the house, something that we haven't allowed for several years.

Have any of you ever faced this situation with other friends/family? Any help/guidance is appreciated.
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Old 02-27-2016, 03:21 PM   #2
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1. If you haven't used it in over a year, it's a prime candidate for goodbye.

2. Once a week, a FULL bag of this stuff will either be donated to a local charity such as Goodwill, SVDP, or similar, or else go out with the trash. This must be a firm rule.

3. For more valuable items, Craigslist or eBay can be useful, but do not allow these items to interfere with rules 1 and 2.

If you can get the family to commit to this regimen, you will be pleasantly surprised at how smoothly it can go. The weekly trash pickup day will be your deadline and motivator.

Believe me, I understand. DW is a bit of a hoarder and I have worked for years to establish this routine. But it does work.
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Old 02-27-2016, 03:27 PM   #3
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Both of my parents grew up in the 1930's Depression and this affected them a lot. One of the manifestations was that they never threw anything out if it might, maybe, possibly, be of use in the future. So I grew up in the environment you describe.

It affected my mother the most. When we were cleaning out the house when she moved to a CCRC I had no idea that it was possible to stuff so many plastic bags under a kitchen sink. Margarine tubs? She must have had thousands, or at least it seemed that way. Every horizontal surface in the house had stuff on it. There was more than one argument between parents about the issue but he couldn't throw too many rocks because the basement was full of tools and electrical gear (he was an electrician). It wasn't quite as bad as the "Hoarders" TV show, but close enough.

It was never resolved and although she was somewhat better about it after moving to the CCRC. It was just part of who she was I suppose.

There now are "clutter consultants" and I suppose you could call one of those, or at least get a book or two on clearing clutter so you'd have an idea where to start and what causes it. In our case we have found that going through the house once in a while and throwing out/giving away anything we haven't used for a year helps a lot.
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Old 02-27-2016, 03:34 PM   #4
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I've recommended this book before but will mention it here: "Rightsizing your Life" by Ciji Ware. She does a great job of addressing the emotional and practical aspects of getting rid of things. Take a picture, make a video, keep your favorite 2 or 3 of a beloved collection- lots of good ideas.
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Old 02-27-2016, 03:34 PM   #5
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I had no idea that it was possible to stuff so many plastic bags under a kitchen sink.
Or in the (never used) oven. It may only be a few cubic feet, but ...
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Old 02-27-2016, 03:36 PM   #6
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It's not clear from your opening post; Do you want help to clean the house? Or help to stop hoarding? They are two very different things.
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Old 02-27-2016, 03:57 PM   #7
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I am just overwhelmed at the condition. The others in my household claim to dislike it as much as I, but lack the motivation to help me improve it. So, I just kind of lay back and say "Why bother?".
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Old 02-27-2016, 04:01 PM   #8
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I am just overwhelmed at the condition. The others in my household claim to dislike it as much as I, but lack the motivation to help me improve it. So, I just kind of lay back and say "Why bother?".
Well, you could try tackling it a little bit at a time. Like telling yourself "I'm going to spend 15 minutes a day on this one closet" until it is cleared out. That way it isn't overwhelming but by the end of the week impressive progress will have been made. Or some variation of that.
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Old 02-27-2016, 04:25 PM   #9
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Look at flylady.net, specifically http://www.flylady.net/d/getting-sta...ng-15-minutes/

Don't worry about the clean or about anyone else helping you. Focus on the clutter. Every tabletop/counter/dresser top cleared off will make a huge difference--throw away most of what had been on top of it--do not save it to evaluate later. Then go to the next one. Stay focused on what you are doing, not on how much more needs to be done. It's not a race and there is no prize for doing it quickly, but do some decluttering every day. Baby steps.
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Old 02-27-2016, 04:28 PM   #10
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Well, you could try tackling it a little bit at a time. Like telling yourself "I'm going to spend 15 minutes a day on this one closet" until it is cleared out. That way it isn't overwhelming but by the end of the week impressive progress will have been made. Or some variation of that.
+1 . Before I retired, we tackled housework the same way - 10 minutes of sustained effort then done until the next day. It is amazing how much can be accomplished when working, as opposed to procrastinating.
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Old 02-27-2016, 04:44 PM   #11
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2nd on flylady.
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Old 02-27-2016, 05:01 PM   #12
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My brother is a hoarder. He lives with my 85 year old mother in a house that she owns. His hoard has taken over the 2nd floor. The plaster ceilings in those rooms are sagging/crumbling. We cannot get someone in to do repair work because there is no way to work around the stuff (junk). The situation makes me sick. Short of getting the sheriff/elder lawyer involved, there is no way he is going to cooperate. He expects to buy the house once mom passes and has stated "I don't care if they have to bulldoze the place once I'm gone." The problem is Mom could live for years yet and the house could be in such disrepair when the day comes for him to purchase it. Plus he is commitment-phobic so there are no guarantees he will follow through with buying the home.

Please, get your place organized. I find life is so much easier and more enjoyable with less stuff to deal with.
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Old 02-27-2016, 05:14 PM   #13
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First, good on you for having the courage to ask for help - that's a really good sign I think! There is an incredibly talented educator (with either a master's or doctorate) at my church whose car is completely filled with "stuff" so that she can't see out anywhere but the windshield. And another acquaintance with a master's degree has let her house get to such a point that her best friend is not allowed in, even to help her out recently when she injured her leg seriously. So this condition in no way indicates a lack of intelligence on your part.

+3 on Flylady if you think a system might help you take baby steps to stop making it worse and start making it better. It certainly would be something to try before bringing in professional help.

If that doesn't do it, I would google for "professional organizers", look at their websites, and interview 2-3 by phone before selecting one to try out. If you are in a rural area with no one nearby, perhaps try calling one in a nearby city for ideas.

Good luck on tackling this tough problem - keep us posted on your progress so we can encourage you!
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Old 02-27-2016, 05:17 PM   #14
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If you really want to get help before the situation gets worse (and it will) and get back in control get professional help. Decide with your family that you want to change the situation. Find a professional cleaner or organizer and make a plan, room by room. Hoarding is akin to addiction. You CAN beat it if you have the willpower to do so. Don't let it control your life.
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Old 02-27-2016, 05:29 PM   #15
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Kudos to you for sharing this. It's hard! I second the advice to get a professional to help you. It's nothing to be ashamed of, and a professional can turn an insurmountable problem into a manageable project. Once the clutter has been cleared, it will have a tendency to build up again. It may be helpful to have your professional declutterer come back every few months for maintenance, so that things never get out of hand. It would be a good investment. You will enjoy your home and your life so much more, and there will be no need to keep this secret.
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Old 02-27-2016, 05:38 PM   #16
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An alternative suggestion...one we did a couple years ago:

Have a dumpster delivered and just go completely gonzo on it for a weekend. A big dumpster will cost <$500 to have delivered and picked-up. You can get a general trash one provided you're not trying to dump electronics or chemicals.

We found that once we got into the swing of it, we filled it up amazingly quickly. For us this was better than "a little bit at a time" because we found that the little bit approach just allow clutter to rebuild behind us.

Good luck.
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Old 02-27-2016, 05:44 PM   #17
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An alternative suggestion...one we did a couple years ago:

Have a dumpster delivered and just go completely gonzo on it for a weekend. A big dumpster will cost <$500 to have delivered and picked-up. You can get a general trash one provided you're not trying to dump electronics or chemicals.

We found that once we got into the swing of it, we filled it up amazingly quickly. For us this was better than "a little bit at a time" because we found that the little bit approach just allow clutter to rebuild behind us.

Good luck.
Thanks. That is something we've talked about.
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Old 02-27-2016, 06:15 PM   #18
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I went to FlyLady.net and if this is the best she can do, I have my doubts about her...

"You Can Do Anything for 15 Minutes!” ~ FlyLady

I couldn't 55 years ago and I can't now (for entirely different reasons).
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Old 02-27-2016, 06:20 PM   #19
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An alternative suggestion...one we did a couple years ago:

Have a dumpster delivered and just go completely gonzo on it for a weekend. A big dumpster will cost <$500 to have delivered and picked-up. You can get a general trash one provided you're not trying to dump electronics or chemicals.

We found that once we got into the swing of it, we filled it up amazingly quickly. For us this was better than "a little bit at a time" because we found that the little bit approach just allow clutter to rebuild behind us.

Good luck.
+1 on this. My BIL moved out on my sister and gave up the house they jointly owned just to get out from under her junk. He then inherited his father and mother's family home, and although they were not in my sister's league they lived in this one large home and raised 6 children there for ~50 years, which can lead to a lot of junk He got dumpster after dumpster and he and a couple brothers cleaned the place out in a few days. He is energetic and not afraid of work, so he mopped and scrubbed and the place was excellent. That was 10 years ago, and it is still neat and clean.

This is much easier for a single person to do. It takes a really cooperative couple to succeed at this type task.

Ha
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Old 02-27-2016, 06:39 PM   #20
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I would also suggest flylady as a place to start.

Good luck and I hope your whole family gets motivated and works together to get the results you all desire.
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