Week 4 – Trying to keep control..

So it’s week 4 and feel like I need to disclose the fact that we have two houses in addition to my parents house and my house.  Let me also start by saying that hoarders should never have more than one house.  To make it clear, the first “other house” is referred to as across the street for the obvious reason that it’s across the street from my parents house.  This is the house my father grew up in.  It was originally built as a two room war era house, but my grandfather added a living room, additional bedroom, and an attic onto the original structure.  Since then, my parents, paternal grandmother, brother, and myself all lived there at one point or another.  I had intentions to remodel it and move in after college, but part of the house is on a dirt foundation and it needed a lot of work.  I decided that I would rather buy my own place instead.  The house has been vacant since then and the final goal will be to clean the house out and have it knocked down.

Since I hadn’t been across the street in a while, I decided to stop over and assess the situation.  Looking around the downstairs area, there are cobwebs everywhere and bottles, cans, and other recycling left from my brother some 7 or 8 years earlier.  Then I step upstairs into the attic, this is a particular problem area because the 60 year old insulation is falling and has covered everything in a gross brown dust.  I quickly grabbed some pictures, jewelry, and documents, but realized most were from my grandmother’s second husband whom I never met (all of my grandfathers passed away before I was born.)  I took a small box of my grandmother’s things and called it a loss.  There was more work to do at my parents’ house.

So onto our favorite topic.  Newspapers!!  Earlier this week I received a call from my mother telling me that she was going to recycling and that she was bringing the two bags of newspapers she packed up along with her.  I pause and ask hesitantly “not three?”  Now she gets snippy with me, my mother replies “No!  Not three!  I am telling you the truth!  I was only able to get two bags” (as if there just weren’t enough newspapers to ever pack up three bags.)  I try to emphasize the fact that the whole point is for me to come and get them.  She asks if I just wanted her to leave them at the house and I reply yes.

So I head to my parents house and realize that my mother has taken the newspapers to recycling herself “since she was going anyways”.  I don’t know if I believe her or not, so I’m not counting them this week.  I ask about the third bag and she gets snippy again.  I get a response along the lines of “don’t push it.”  I attempt to take a bag of something else.  Clothes maybe?  Surely there aren’t enough of those either.  Only all of the clothes that we have ever worn since we were babies!  Once again she says “don’t push it.”  I go upstairs and start piling up some boxes I went through the week before to take out.  They are mostly pots and pans from my grandmother and great aunt who both passed away a few years ago.  My mother is watching me the whole time and is trying to go through everything I put down.  I tell her I will take everything and lay it out at my place so she can see it.  She points out one contraption she thinks is “antique.”  Ugh!  I finally get everything out and grab two bags of milk cartons to make up for not taking any newspapers. Supposedly she keeps milk cartons so she can store food for the compost before bringing it outside.  She also said she would like to keep a few to make some houses with the grandchildren.  No way whatsoever!!  I practically grab the bags and run. Finally I get home and lay everything from the boxes out on a blanket on my living room floor.  I count about 27 pots and pans.  Most are old and aluminum.  They will probably be going to goodwill.

My first haul from my mothers’ house. Lots and lots of pots and pans.

I decide to sort everything between good and bad piles.  Mixed in are some old kitchen tools and tins that would look pretty cool together on some shelves, so I put those aside.  I doubt they are antiques, but they have some character to them.  Otherwise, I am excited to find some really nice iron clad skillets.  I will definitely be using those!

I have my mother come over the next day to sort through everything with me.   This is important so I can gain her trust and let her know I’m not getting rid of anything valuable. I am also including her in the decision-making process.  I tell her that I’m unsure of what goodwill may do with some of the older pots (some aren’t in the greatest of shape.)  I was going to bring them to recycling, but she insisted that they could be worth some money so she would like to bring them to the metal guy.  Great.  She ends up taking about 10 of the pots.  I put aside some of the nicer pots and bring the rest to good will.

*as a side note, I got a call from my sister in-law about a week later asking why there was a box of pots in my mom’s trunk.  Obviously they haven’t made it to the metal guy yet.  Sigh.

This week:  No newspapers 😦

3 boxes of assorted pots and pans

2 bags of milk cartons.

Total – 6 bags of newspapers


4 thoughts on “Week 4 – Trying to keep control..

  1. I hope you can keep up the energy to patiently take tiny bits out of your parents house. I also hope you are able to help them, as most hoarders will resist very strongly when they actually see that there is clear space. My Mother would not allow me to help in any way, and finally banned me from her house. I cleaned it after she died.

    • I’m so sorry to hear that. You must have had quite the mess to clean up. I have definitely had my share of fights with my mother about helping. It’s almost like I’m a stranger in her house and I’m stealing her stuff. It can be mentally taxing at times. At this point I haven’t gotten to her personal items, but I know it’s going to be a struggle when I do. The newspapers are the biggest problem as she has literally built them into walls around her. I definitely have to tread lightly. Thanks so much for your support!

  2. Just wanted to let you know that you are providing me with some inspiration. I am by nature a bit of a clutter-y person. Not to the extent that you describe with your mom, by any means, but still more than I’m comfortable with. I want to get it under control before it starts to affect my kids’ childhood. (I’m sad to say that I panicked a little last night when the kids opened up the patio blinds to watch some distant fireworks. Our neighbors were in their backyard, it was dark outside, and our kitchen lights were on. All I could think of was that the neighbors were getting a spotlight view of the mess on my kitchen table.)

    • Thank you so much! I agree that it is so hard to avoid clutter. I am guilty of it too, papers are just so hard to control! I was never really taught to clean or organize properly, so I have had to impose some heavy clutter-free systems into my own life. I will try to post some of these every once in a while, as maybe they can help you too! I would recommend to try to do little things every day. Like make sure you sort the mail immediately or clean the sink before bed. I find that I am so exhausted by the end of the day, but if I take those few minutes before bed to clean the sink out I almost feel proud of myself! I don’t have kids myself, but definitely get them involved! You can teach them good habits and help yourself by giving you a few additional minutes each day. They might not clean perfectly, but kids like to help (normally). Just look at everything as small goals!

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