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To be hesitant about bringing baby to hoarding parent's house?

(48 Posts)
Ladyboluna Sun 08-May-16 12:46:31

Last time I visited my parents there was around 50 unopened very large cardboard boxes full of books, stacked up to the ceiling all through the house... in every room. As you imagine the house has a problem with dust too as it's been going on for several years. My mother has mental health problems that stop her leaving the house but she is refusing to get medical help. It's so bad in the living room now there is not enough room to put down a car seat, let alone a basket or playmat to put baby down on.

I'm in the third trimester of pregnancy and obviously my parents want me to bring the baby to visit them (they live about 4 hours drive away, longer by train) because my mother won't travel.

And every week she rings me and tells me all about the new books she has bought with her wages (works from home, dad works too so mum keeps all of hers). And every week I tell her she needs to have a clear out if she wants me to bring baby, as right now if we do visit we're staying at a hotel. It's really hurt her feelings but I am at a loss as to what to do now.

emotionsecho Sun 08-May-16 12:54:19

I agree with you OP there is no way I'd take a baby into that environment and no way I'd stay there.

I really feel for you as it is going to be so hard to deal with this without feeling guilty and like the bad guy, you are going to be torn because your dm has mental health issues but the safety and health of your baby has to be your priority.

Is there any way you can get your dad to do something?

shiveringhiccup Sun 08-May-16 12:56:03

This is a tricky one to work out without causing offence.

Option 1: don'y say anything and just go to visit. Keep it as a day visit and just make sure you hold onto the baby - in that sense it's not going to be a problem until baby is older and mobile.

Option 2: be direct and tell your mum clearly what the problem is. Offer a specific solution, eg to bring my baby round I would need you to clear 2m of space in one room, or whatever it is you'd need. Expecting her to clear out the entire house is a big ask if there's MH issues involved so be clear what the minimum is that you'd need.

Option 3: be indirect and find somewhere else to meet. Is there a cafe down the road? A toddler group you could go to together? This probably would cause the most hurt though as it's avoiding her house and not explaining why.

Congratulations! flowers

shiveringhiccup Sun 08-May-16 12:57:07

Fwiw agree with emotionsecho that you really do have to put your baby first here, not your mum. Good luck

WhereYouLeftIt Sun 08-May-16 14:34:28

"every week I tell her she needs to have a clear out if she wants me to bring baby, as right now if we do visit we're staying at a hotel"
I think that is the best you can do. There is problem, and you are acknowledging what that problem is. shiveringhiccup's suggestion that you be specific as to EXACTLY what she could do to facilitate a visit is a good one.

This is a situation where her hurt feelings are not the priority. Because what is the alternative - that everyone pretends that a house you can't move in (or even get into if she continues) is absolutely fine and dandy? That does her no favoursin the long term.

A thought - what about your dad? Has he got anything to say about this? Have you pointed out to him that a lack of floorspace is actually a logistical problem should you visit with baby?

BoomBoomsCousin Sun 08-May-16 15:39:58

We had to do a limited version of this. My mother smokes a lot and the house is full of junk - there was enough room to put down a playmat though. So we would visit and stay in a hotel, only go into the house for a few minutes at a time and spend most of our time with them in the garden or out and about. It was difficult, especially when the weather wasn't good, compounded by limited mobility on my mother's part and her need to smoke every hour or so. But there was no way I could leave them without picking them up or moving them away from something for more than a few seconds in the house and I didn't really want them breathing the air. My mother feels guilty about the smoking so understood that aspect, but never really got my concern about the junk.

It did cause some friction, but I tried to be as nice about it as I could while not giving in and putting my concern for her feelings above my concern for my DDs' health.

MeadowHay Sun 08-May-16 17:12:25

Following with interest as me and DP are ttc and MIL is a hoarder as well so we will face similar dilemma eventually.

Ladyboluna Sun 08-May-16 17:13:25

Thank you for the responses I find them reassuring. My dad told me "we can spend our money how we want and it is rude to comment on other people's houses." He also buys my mum books all the time when he's out because it makes her happy. They do not have any family living nearby and never eat out or go to neighbours houses... so I think they don't see it any more.

When I told them about it they said "you WILL bring baby to see us because we took you out when you were younger"

Oh and it's not possible to meet them outside somewhere because my mother does not leave the house and has not done for several years.

CottonSock Sun 08-May-16 17:15:48

Yanbu, we have not been to inlaws since dd born for similar reasons, and their house doesn't sound quite as bad

CottonSock Sun 08-May-16 17:17:01

I just read the bit about her not leaving the house. That's difficult. Could they make one room safe?

CaptainCorellisBanjo Sun 08-May-16 17:27:31

YANBU. I have a similar problem with my parents. I have stopped visiting them because there is literally no space for us in the house because of the amount of crap they insist on hoarding. If you met them on the street they are well presented, you would have no idea the chaos that lies behind their four walls and how unspeakably stressful it is to visit.
Good luck.

themorus Sun 08-May-16 17:52:07

I had this! I'm afraid I don't have any easy answers and we are 7 years on now. It took me a VERY long time to come to terms with realising that I can't change her and that my children won't have the relationship with DM that I wanted them to. I won't let them stay there for example. When mine were babies I said we wouldn't come over thinking that would make her sort it, it didn't... I realise now it isn't that easy, it is mental health issue, but she won't accept professional help.

It was different for me in that she just came to me. In your position, I would probably stay near her, take the baby and don't put them down on the floor. When DC is older could you use the crawling/putting things in mouth id use that excuse to get them to clean one area.

We have started to go over again, now the DC are old enough to know not to touch stuff. I wish I had time to spend helping her sort it but that isn't the answer. We've chucked stuff in the past but it just accumulates again. It's so sad and I think underlies a deep rooted problem that I and my siblings aren't qualified to deal with.

My dad is no longer with us, so can't really comment on that aspect but I would object to being told I HAD to bring the baby, like you said he did, that is emotional blackmail and if you are worried about the H&S then you should raise it with them. Does your dad hoard too or just try and justify your mum doing it?

WhereYouLeftIt Sun 08-May-16 18:07:13

So your dad is enabling her.

"When I told them about it they said "you WILL bring baby to see us because we took you out when you were younger""
Well they can say that, and you can ignore it. It's simply not their call. They are four hours away and that's quite a journey to undertake with a small baby, and you don't need to undertake it if you feel you don't want to. They absolutely can't make you visit them. The most they can do is phone you, and if need be you can hang up.

I think I'd take the opportunity of your third trimester to lay down the law a bit with your parents. Sounds as if they treat you like you're six. You are an adult and about to become a mother, you are entitled to be treated with respect.

If he wants to play the 'we can spend our money how we like' game you can play 'and we can spend our time how we like, and we don't like four-hour journeys and hoarder's caves where there's no room for the baby' right back at him. I know you don't want to hurt their feelings, but it doesn't sound to me like they're too bothered about yours.

Wolfiefan Sun 08-May-16 18:10:36

They expect you to drive for 8 hours (there and back) to visit?
They need to visit you or at the least meet you halfway. 8 hours driving with a newborn is nuts.
And it's not just a newborn baby that's the issue. The same goes for a toddler.

Ladyboluna Sun 08-May-16 21:03:52

I'm back home now so I can respond properly!

CottonSock - there are boxes in every room. Downstairs is all open plan so that only leaves the bedrooms. My old bedroom is completely inaccessible - boxes are stacked up in the doorway. :sad:

CaptainCorellisBanjo Thank you, and to everyone else who has said they have similar situations. I honestly have been struggling emotionally with this for a while and what I've found really hard the most is not knowing anyone else with a similar issue. OH's family are very house proud (passed on through the generations it seems) and I don't have much to do with DM or DF's family (and neither do they).

themorus - Your post really speaks to me. I honestly can't say this enough I am so happy in a weird way that I can speak to people who know what this is like. I do try to change them. When I visited a few months ago (at end of first trimester) I tried to tidy/clean but she wouldn't let me. She certainly won't throw anything away as its all new, unopened books! My dad does contribute to the hoarding as he buys some of the stuff and he also 'collects' antiques which are on every other surface through the house. Even the dining room table and kitchen counters are swamped. So in terms of space for preparing bottles (if breastfeeding doesn't work)... we'd be stuck then too.

My mother has made a point of talking about how when I was 8 weeks old she took me to visit her mother who lived maybe 2-3 hours away for a visit. But, crucially, her mother's house is spotless.

WhereYouLeftIt Your last point really hit home to me. I've had a difficult relationship with my parents since I was a teenager mainly due to how my mother's MH issues have affected us as a family and my DF's enabling of her (her issues are more than hoarding). They always spoke down to me, and DF would take me aside and tell me to stop talking about DM's issues and act normal! Now I am no longer a teenager and I do tell them its an issue but they try and play that card still. And you're right, I should get more respect now. I tell DF that he cannot tell me to pretend any more.

The issue is made worse because my sister still lives at home. If I try and bring up the subject with my parents they then go and rant at her. And of course, I talk to her about them. My OH has made it clear that he is not comfortable with bringing the baby there as well. I think DM is trying to shift blame onto him - she told my sister that she thinks my OH is the one stopping me.

emotionsecho Sun 08-May-16 21:16:23

Oh dear OP this is really tough, however, it does sound as if the house is no place for a baby or toddler and I think you are going to have to stand up to them and let them know that you decide what is best for your child. The journey and the problems at the destination are not in yours or your child's best interests.

I'm sorry your father is so difficult and that your sister is caught in the middle.

WhereYouLeftIt Sun 08-May-16 21:50:14

"DF would take me aside and tell me to stop talking about DM's issues and act normal!"
Well he might try to play that card now but you can refuse to play along. What can he do? He's four hours away and you can put the phone down on him. He has no power over you, bar what you grant him.

You don't have to visit them. You can do what you consider is best for you and your baby.

You can't change them, only they can do that and the chances they will are slim.

themorus Sun 08-May-16 22:03:00

I'm sorry to hear how difficult it is for you and your sister. Does she ever try and approach the issue with them herself?

Is a solution to the initial problem of taking the baby to have the visit in her room? ( I appreciate that may not be possible and it doesn't deal with the deeper issue.)

For the longer term, you and oh need to present a consistent and united front all the time, with your sister too if necessary so they can't divide or talk about each of you behind each others backs.

Your oh has a right to voice his view about the safety of his child and you need to back him up so they know you feel the same.

I really do understand how hard that is given the background you have shared. It sounds like your father has guilt tripped you about it for years, but now as a pp said maybe you need to say similar back about about decisions you make for your own family.

I have been firm with my DM on a few occasions when we have disagreed about the raising of children, I don't find it easy and I worry about it, but I am thinking of the good of my children. If you couch it in those terms how can they disagree? For example, when mum says about you as a baby at your gran's, point out to her about bottles, cleanliness, clutter etc.

It gets easier the more you do it and they realise you're serious about your views.

Beeziekn33ze Sun 08-May-16 22:49:42

There is psychotherapy for hoarders but I guess your parents would not consider it. As far as I know it is either private or group therapy available through some local fire services.
YANBU - of course they shouldn't expect you to visit with your baby with the house in such a state. You mention a sister, does she take children there?

Gide Sun 08-May-16 23:01:00

They won't change, OP, so if you want to visit, it's up to you to consider how you can adapt to the situation. What is the kitchen like? Or you just go in decent weather and stay in the garden. I would definitely stay in a hotel: there can't be room for you three to be there?! No way would I want to try to stay there. Visit, yes, stay somewhere decent. Are there other relatives nearby?

Sorebigtoes Mon 09-May-16 01:48:14

We have a similar issue with ILs in that their home is cluttered so you can't move around/use tables or kitchen surfaces etc, dirty, no clean cups/crockery. They live about 4 hours away too. We would never stay overnight and can only be in the house for, at most, a couple of hours. At that point we go out and do our own thing (park/cafe/walk) and maybe go back later briefly or send DH on his own in the evening when kids are asleep. They don't leave the house now either. TBH we go about once a year as it's so difficult.

manicinsomniac Mon 09-May-16 02:02:55

Personally, I'd give them until the baby is mobile to sort themselves out. I wouldn't have too much of a problem taking a little baby round that couldn't get into any danger on its own.

Horrible situation though. I have different but related problems in leaving my children at my mum's house (she's morbidly obese and doesn't keep the house clean) but, rightly or wrongly, I've swallowed my fears for her sake.

NattyNatural Mon 09-May-16 02:43:15

Why not buy her a kindle

LilQueenie Mon 09-May-16 03:27:03

Same situation here with DP's parents. I point blank refused and they didnt like it but his dad refused to visit at mine too so his loss. His mum visited a few times but not without a fuss (ie we used to visit 2 mins walk away at DPs house (we have seperate houses) at an agreed time. I was always sat waiting 2 hours until she got ready as she needed DP to knock on her door to tell her we were around. God knows why she had been up for 5 hours and damn well knew we were waiting. Now they dont speak to us at all. Don't be offended if your parents end up not seeing your little one. They need to understand and accept why its such a danger in their house.

CaptainWarbeck Mon 09-May-16 03:59:33

Same situation here with my inlaws. Whereyou's post is right on I think.

Its hard when you've been used to a certain amount of people-pleasing and putting your own feelings behind theirs, but you need to stand up to your parents, as hard as it sometimes can be.

Pick a few choice phrases that you and DH are happy with and use the broken record technique.


'We don't feel your house is safe for the baby as it is at the moment, so unless that changes, we won't be able to bring the baby round.'

'We'd love for you to see lots of the baby though and are keen for you to be involved grandparents [if you are]. Maybe we could talk about how best to make that work?'

DH had this discussion with his parents before DS was born. They are mega hoarders and the house is really filthy as well as being crammed with stuff. We haven't been over since I was pregnant. To be fair, none of their grandchildren have, so it's not just us. They choose to live like that so sadly there are consequences to that choice. We're lucky in that ours will come to ours and other relatives houses, so they do still see a fair bit of DS.

flowers for you, it's not an easy situation to have to deal with.

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