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The Hoarders Anonymous Thread. Sorting It Out.

(956 Posts)
Solo Sat 28-Dec-13 17:54:15

There was a thread that I was involved in some time ago which was started by someone trying to understand why her Dh kept so much 'stuff' and couldn't throw anything away.

The thread quickly turned into a support thread for many MN hoarders and there was a large support network that evolved from that thread.
Eventually, the thread died and with it, certainly my 'support and encouragement mates' circle...

From other threads where lovely Mumsnetters have supported and given rl help, there have come other hoarders, untidy people and those who are just plain stuck in a rut admitting they have a problem. People like me that have become emotionally attached to stuff and it has taken over their homes and their lives. People that cannot cope after loss of different types (parent, relationship, job etc) and it just turns into one big nightmare ~ it certainly did for me following my relationship breakdown, my Dad dying and another nine people in my life passing away inside 11 months.
Personally, I feel that being unable to let anyone in through my front door means that no one can hurt me; I've pulled up the drawbridge, so no one can get to me and shoot me again.

I've always been a bit of a collector of things. I'm a make do and mend type and I can make something out of nothing. Trouble is that once I started to lose important things (people mainly) from my life, I felt unable to let anything made of something go...what if I could never get or have another?! that'd be terrible right?

So! that is a part of my story and here is a thread of support and encouragement (I hope) for others feeling overwhelmed by their hoarding, clutter and stuff. I am hoping that I can get my life sorted out and that there are others that will come along on the journey and perhaps also sort out their homes and lives.
I want to raise my drawbridge and invite friends in. Anyone else? smile

Solo Tue 04-Aug-15 01:03:04


Babieseverywhere Mon 03-Aug-15 23:59:59

Sounds great 2boys.

poor you fuzzpig...treating the kids is no fun sad

fuzzpig Mon 03-Aug-15 22:05:10

Wahey 2boys great stuff!

I did sod all today beyond cooking... and delousing, ugh. First time we've had any (and at that, thankfully only a few, rather than a full on infestation) since before 8yo first started school! But the great thing is, the fact that we have decluttered and got more organised meant that it was much less stressful - so much easier to just get on with hot washes etc because there was less crap in the way.

Not sure of plan for tomorrow - pretty wiped. But do really need to put all clean laundry away with the DCs.

2boysnamedR Mon 03-Aug-15 21:38:26

I did a quick run round and grab of 20 things for the tip today. I'm doing that all this week. It's not much but it's getting in the right mindset.

I had a few avalanches (crapalanch which we affectional call them here) - which normally backs up my theroy of leaving well alone, but today I was thinking "next time I touch this it won't be all be falling on my head".

Babieseverywhere Mon 03-Aug-15 13:01:17

I have done nothing...and I'm off to soft play with the kids shortly..oh well there is always tomorrow smile

2boysnamedR Mon 03-Aug-15 11:36:16

I'm glad I'm not alone!

I have a home start volunteer ( four kids, two with sn) and she helps me sort things out ( poor woman, no idea how she puts up with me!). We was going through the toys when I found a bag of rotting pond weed I had bought for the tropical fish. No idea why it was in with the toys as normally I walk in the door and put that straight into the fish tank. I could have died from embarisment. I still cringe thinking about it.

Right I am doing the washing and putting away today. This week I'm doing the dump and a charity run so must have a bag for each!

All junk mail is going straight into the recycling as it comes in as well

fuzzpig Mon 03-Aug-15 10:48:34

That's very reassuring Solo thanks smile especially about the soft toys too!

Well 2boys if it's of any reassurance, I will be doing my own version of shove-everything-out-of-sight in the next couple of days. Friend is looking after my DCs for a day this week, and I am so embarrassed at the state of the place! This friend hasn't been here for years (we only recently got back in touch and she suggested a childcare swap) but is the same person who on one occasion I had to refuse entry to use the loo when she dropped us off blush and on another when they did visit, they lost a child's shoe and we didn't find it until hours later... but oh god the things they saw when we were searching under the sofa and stuff... blush blush blush

SO... I want to make it look a bit better in here if I can (still in much pain). But it's a testament to the decluttering we've done so far that it isn't nearly so scary a prospect to have somebody here, and doesn't feel like we will have to hide nearly so much either.

Solo Sun 02-Aug-15 22:56:53

There are some great tips there! thank you!

Fuzz I always wash kid things regardless; I put soft toys into the machine as I think they should be washable and if they don't survive a wash, they are/would be binned. I have to tell you that I haven't had a disaster yet! and that includes musical toys!!

Right! I will get a new thread going tomorrow smile

Babieseverywhere Sun 02-Aug-15 13:22:43

That said I am great at setting up strategies and task lists....but no good at actually doing it sad

fuzzpig Sun 02-Aug-15 13:20:58

Cool, thanks for the info Babies - feel a bit better if I can potentially get all their manky dress up stuff clean grin

Babieseverywhere Sun 02-Aug-15 13:13:21

For paperwork.

I have cancelled all paper bills where possible. So most stuff is online and can be looked at when needed.

The paperwork I get. I take the first sheet and decide what to do with it and action it. Then pick up next piece. etc.

I use chore checklist to add actions on, I use google calendar to add events and I use Evernote to electronic file letters. If you take a photo of a letter on Evernote, you can search for any words contained in that letter. So vague search like party or spelling will bring the letter up !

1. Either throw it away, if it is useless.

2. If it needs an action, I add it to Evernote by taking a picture of it. So I can always look at it again if I need too.

Then add an entry on the calendar if it is an invite OR add a one off task to my chore checklist app...which will remind me daily until I do it.

Then throw away letter.

3. Unsure on what to do with a letter.

I add to Evernote by taking a photo of the letter. Just in case I later need it.

I throw letter.


Sigh, I have a big pile of paperwork to deal with atm. I will start it in 10 minutes after my brew. grin

I am meant to deal with paperwork daily but it has been several weeks since I did it and it makes me jumpy that I might be missing things.

Babieseverywhere Sun 02-Aug-15 12:46:47

Dress up clothes I turn inside outside out and wash on a gentle hand wash cycle in the washing machine with no spin and drip seems to work so far.

fuzzpig Sun 02-Aug-15 12:41:51

Oh BTW Babies, how do you wash your DCs' dressing up stuff? A lot of ours says sponge clean only. I don't want to ruin them by shoving them all in the wash, but some of them... EUUUWWWW blush they really do need a clean! I'm planning on going through everything once it's all together (made great headway on this yesterday but still lots around the house) and seeing what can be salvaged, any simple stitching etc... can I just wash stuff on a gentle cycle or something? Or do you handwash them?

fuzzpig Sun 02-Aug-15 12:38:20

2boys paperwork defeats me too. TBH, ours is all just stuffed into a particular bag. There's a load of older stuff that is in a huge box in our room too. That's going to be basically the last thing we tackle. We are going to wait until EVERYTHING else is done, because then we know we have absolutely all the paperwork together. I'm sure there's loads of things we can chuck but while the rest of the house is full of physical clutter (well, less than there was, certainly!) I can't focus on it when actually it takes up a very small space.

However, as Babies wisely says, everyone does it differently, so you might feel that paperwork is easier to handle/make decisions on than objects/toys/clothes etc. In which case it would be sensible to start with it, because it'll give you a confidence boost!

One thing that has helped in the past is what I call 'sweeping'. I found that if I told myself to clear a particular space, I'd get caught up in a mess of indecision over every single item and get nowhere (again this demonstrates how different people succeed with different methods!). So instead I would just go round looking for basically one type of thing at a time. First was always actual obvious rubbish. Just going round with a bin bag. Then it might be only looking for clothes, putting clean ones away and dirty ones in the kitchen. Then books, just picking up every single one. Then bigger types of toys, say teddies or Happyland or whatever. Then smaller stuff like Lego or board game pieces collected into a box. The key for me was to start with the things that are easier to spot, and particularly bigger items, as this made progress appear fast.

If you have people you really trust, then yes I think it would be fab to accept their offer of help! If they've offered then they obviously care about you. Just explain that you find it difficult and ask to make a deal that they won't chuck stuff without checking. I trust Mum with this, as she knows I worry - actually she used to go through my bin bags when I tidied my room (no prizes for guessing where my issues come from then... grin) so I know she 'gets it'.

I am really achy today. DH has just taken the DCs out and I've got some work to do on the laptop, other than that it's laundry and sorting out a few board games (we've ended up with some duplicates - Mum has agreed to have them at her flat so we can play together when we visit! This is a big deal as they hardly ever played when I was a kid!). I don't think I'll achieve much other than that, but I'm already noticing how it's getting much easier to do tiny little bits that make a difference - because things are starting to Have A Place. So on finding various Playmobil bits this morning, instead of thinking 'aaaargh I dunno' and leaving it I just immediately put them in the correct plastic boxes according to what building they belonged to... it's such a bloody obvious thing that most households would do without even thinking, but it's a huge revelation to me!

Babieseverywhere Sun 02-Aug-15 12:22:24

Forgot to add...On my daily routine I have wash, dry, iron and put away a load of laundry !

Babieseverywhere Sun 02-Aug-15 12:19:47

Everyone clears their house in their own way. It depends on where you are up to in the house, your health and other commitments.

I can tell you what I do...take anything which helps. smile

I am poorly organised and easily distracted. I have weeks when I am following my plan faithfully and other weeks when I back slide.


I have a chore checklist app on my phone which sets out a really simple daily routine

Daily List
(tidy kitchen, tidy bathroom, empty bins, hoover, declutter one room for 15 mins)

After a few weeks I added in some weekly jobs,

Monday Clean Bathroom

Tuesday Clean Kitchen & Make shopping list

Wednesday Clean Living Room & Do Food Shopping

Thursday Clean bedrooms & change Beds

Friday Clean hall and stairs

Then after a few more months, I added in monthly tasks.

Monthly Tasks included but not limited too...
Clean Oven and Hob
Clean all windows...inside and out
Clean skirting boards (when I get to them! )
Wash children's dress up costumes
Wash garden toys

But the thing to remember is that each job you are chipping away at a room.

So the first time I cleaned the bathroom I only had time to clean the toilet, sink and bath and bleach them.

The next week I repeated cleaning toilet, sink and bath...which was easy as they had been done the week before and cleaned some wall tiles as well.

The next week I added clearing one shelf in the medicine cabinet etc etc.

Maybe 6 weeks later our small bathroom was finished....then I 'just' have to keep it up...which for me is the worst bit.


When it comes to decluttering. I do the following. Decide on a small area to clear i.e. One shelf, one corner or 50% of the dining room table.

I pick up the first item and decide what to do with it and move it straight away into a bag or another room.

Either throw in binbag if it is broken or rubbish. (I put bag in outside bin at the end of the 15 minute declutter session)

OR in a charity binbag, if it is in nice condition but I don't want it. (I put binbag in car at the end of the 15 minutes declutter session, to be dropped off next time I am out of the house)

OR If I am unsure what to do, I put it where it logically should go. I. E. hairbrushes in the bathroom. When I have all the hairbrushes together at a later point. I can see the best condition one too keep and throw out the rest.

One observation...I notice that the first 90% of clearing in a room...doesn't seem to make much difference but the last 10% transforms it to a clear and easier to clean and tidy space. grin

Everything needs a home but just getting more and more storage can be unhelpful as more clutter can be stored.

Only keep the stuff we need and things which gives us joy. Throw the ok and keep the things that make you smile.

Now I just have to follow my own routine....catchup to where I was last year....which was every room clear except our room. THEN I need to tackle our room grin Wish me luck.

2boysnamedR Sat 01-Aug-15 22:58:27

We have started by bringing down the massive shopping bag of paperwork that we grabbed from the table. Oh my life, I'm sure it's partly incurable lazy ness. Just thinking about sorting it out makes me want to go and hide under the duvet!

Also found yet more baby clothes I didn't know about.

How do people do this? Did you get mates round and do a big purge then keep chipping away? My sister and close friend have offered help but it's for a one day purge type thing. Should I say yes? Everything is stuff. I don't have rubbish or trash so I don't want to part with it without sorting it. I feel defeated

Had a lovely day besides that.

Babieseverywhere Sat 01-Aug-15 22:38:03

Fuzzpig Sounds like you are making good progress. Well done smile

2boys We will cheer you on....little baby steps and you will get there one day.

fuzzpig Sat 01-Aug-15 22:26:14

Ah, xpost. 2boys don't worry - I wouldn't have attempted it by this time either! If you have to kip on the sofa, then so be it, it'll just mean you can do it tomorrow when you aren't so tired from hosting a birthday party. If you need a rest, can you attempt to think through what kind of stuff you bunged in there? Maybe think of a few things that you saw, but you could chuck tomorrow?

You are not beyond help. Seriously. We are all behind you. And we can all do this smile

fuzzpig Sat 01-Aug-15 22:23:25

Oh I've certainly had nights where we've been unable to sleep on our bed due to piles of random crap shoved on there or abandoned mid-sort! Not always one night either!

Well done on progress made, Babies, you sure earned that wine!

2boys how was the party? smile Are you able to sleep in your bed tonight grin

Made some good progress here today despite doing bugger all in the morning. I am really heading into full on relapse now. Have that my-bones-are-on-fire feeling in my legs hmm and arms like lead. Feels inevitable really, and so far I feel better for still keeping moving a little rather than retreating to bed (which may be the plan for most of tomorrow!). I've just got to the stage where I can no longer give up on the house every time I'm in pain. sad

I asked my dad to do the more physical stuff for me today though which helped - as I posted the other day, he really floundered with sorting through general clutter, so he much preferred me asking him to hang the laundry, scrub a shelf etc. Although DD did rat him out when she found him reading one of the books I'd asked him to stack grin grin

Anyway, loads of child-related clutter (by far the biggest problem!) sorted, not much actually left the house - I think we're past the major tip/charity shop run phase now - but so much got sorted out. The key thing is that I've boxed up several types of toys/learning stuff/craft stuff and hidden it in my room, telling them it's not coming out for the moment. It's stuff like craft supplies that instantly spreads throughout the whole house so just keeping it out of the way will really help while we sort out what's left.

I feel like we are genuinely making headway now because unlike previous attempts we are emptying cupboards and properly organising what goes into them - some of these cupboards are only being designated contents for the first time ever (having only ever been stuffed with random detritus)... we've lived here 7 years! blush

2boysnamedR Sat 01-Aug-15 22:09:31

Well my guests left at 6pm and at 10pm I haven't looked at my bed.

I was beside myself when my friend offered to put dd down for her nap - in my room!

For shame ... I feel like I'm beyond help.

Babieseverywhere Sat 01-Aug-15 21:17:20

Settled down with a wine will wait until morning smile

Babieseverywhere Sat 01-Aug-15 14:05:05

I started to tackle the hidden clutter in living room but only emptied one drawer out of six so far.

I got sidetracked on the kitchen and spent the last three hours clearing surfaces which took ages, loading dishwasher, loading washing machine.

Threw three bin bags of rubbish and stuff and can finally see ALL surfaces.

Just going to hoover living room and I am finishing for the day.

Not sure whether to tackle kitchen cupboards and shelves first or re attempt living room drawers ?

Think it will be kitchen, as I have decluttered in there before, so it us just wiping down and re stacking tins etc.

YY to the bed and frantic tidy up before visitors but it is getting easier too tidy as things are finding their places.

2boysnamedR Sat 01-Aug-15 11:53:29

I will determine to get rid or put away what's on the bed.

Dh and me was laughing that the roof might collapse, or that in 20 years I will be saying "we haven't slept in tht bed since 2015 and our girls first birthday" it's getting close to be our reality!

Right - time for us to crack on I guess

fuzzpig Sat 01-Aug-15 11:42:21

Er, no, you most certainly are NOT the only one who does this my dear smile I have been there so many times. SO many.

But this could be the last time, as you've made the decision to start changing it. I'm already getting to the stage where we don't need to hide nearly so much! grin And you can too.

Could you shove all the random crap into bags or boxes, and then when little one's birthday is done, maybe make the commitment to sort through those bags first?

Good grief somebody please kick me off this damn laptop and tell me to get to work! I'll be listening to DD read/do some numeracy and literacy work but I should still have a good half hour to do SOMETHING before my parents arrive with lunch.

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