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Children of hoarders

(32 Posts)
3luckystars Sun 14-Feb-16 09:44:34

Just wondering if anyone here is in the same boat. My parents, dad especially, are hoarders.
I have tried talking to him, but he says it breaks his heart to throw anything out. The house is full of stuff, there is nowhere to stay and sometimes nowhere to sit when we visit. It's very upsetting.

My sister has been encouraging me to watch one of the hoarding programmes on the TV to get a better understanding that it's a mental problem, but I can't look at someone else's crap, it just makes me annoyed and I don't know how it will help.

Is anyone else a child of a hoarder? Any advice?

Snoopysimaginaryfriend Sun 14-Feb-16 11:00:11

Hi 3luckystars, my mum is a hoarder, has been for as long as I can remember.

I watched a programme with a psychologist/ psychiatrist (can never remember which) that dealt with hoarders and identified that the majority of them have experienced a devastating loss that means they find it very hard to throw things out because they have a fear of those feelings of loss. I don't know how accurate that it but I know my mum lost three siblings before the age of fifteen.

In terms of helping them it is very hard. My mum doesn't recognise the problem and always replies with what she thinks is a valid reason for keeping an item. I actually broke down a few months ago (got so upset I gave myself a nosebleed) and she seemed to understand the impact it has on the people around her and was making a real effort but then her friend sold her flat to move out of London and guess where all the junk she didn't want to take with her ended up.

It is very hard to deal with and you have my sympathies.

3luckystars Sun 14-Feb-16 13:35:25

Oh thank you so much for your reply. My parents are so much worse since we left home. I think you are right, dad definitely holds on to things out of fear and also has an excuse for keeping everything when asked.
I wonder if anyone saw the state of dads bedroom, would they ask how his children allowed him to live in such a state, its shameful but I cant get through to him.
Honestly I wasn't expecting any replies, I am very grateful to hear there are others out there like me. Thank you again for your reply and sorry you are dealing with this too.

MatrixReloaded Sun 14-Feb-16 14:01:00

I have a relative who does this. This site is helpful for understanding what's really going on. Unfortunately there's nothing you can do though.
www.squalorsurvivors.com/

SavoyCabbage Sun 14-Feb-16 14:08:34

My best friend is a hoarder and it's taken me years to get any sort of an understanding about it. It can be very frustrating.

She is unable to enjoy the present at all. She wants to keep everything from her past. Even totally useless things. (We once fell out because she wouldn't throw away a permission letter from school swimming that was years out of date).

And she wants to have things that she thinks she will be doing in the future. So, she has dragged her son to car boot sales every Saturday for his whole life as she is collecting a dinner service to give him when he gets married. He doesn't get to go to the park, or to swimming lessons because he is looking for a plate for a dinner service. He's not going to get married in my opinion as he cant have friends over never mind form relationships.

smurfette1818 Sun 14-Feb-16 18:29:59

Snoopysimaginaryfriend my mum is also a hoarder, it's gradually worsen since I left home, to the extent that the family home is hardly at livable state anymore and she now spends most of her time living in a rented accommodation. Every time I visit her, I try to reason with her to get the house cleaned but the argument always cut short by various reason - she was not feeling well, headache, she had to go somewhere.

Custardmiteofglut Sun 14-Feb-16 20:11:33

My mother hoards. Her mother, my Nan hoarded. I can empathise with you.

The loss at a young age does ring true. DM lost her dad when she was in her late teens and then my DD tragically died young, which broke my DM.

Our house was pretty messy growing up, but it was blamed on my DB and me. Since we've both left home it's much, much worse. You can't get into rooms now.

I can't go to the family home without getting upset and anxious. I'd go as far to say that I hate it. I don't watch those TV programmes about hoarders as they are just too close to home.

At the moment, for my own peace of mind I have had to walk away from the hoarding issue. I have 2 DC under 5yrs and we just don't go to the house. It's too dangerous. I also have other priorities, like my own home and family that come first.

She won't get any better. I'll be doing what my DM had to do when my DNan passed away, spending hours going through all the clutter and junk, angry that she didn't sort it when she was alive. But that's for the future. I have to rationalise it now. She is an adult with a mental health condition and she chooses to avoid addressing it.

I'm afraid I don't have any advice. My way of dealing with it at the moment is ignore it and occasionally ask if she's had a chance to do any tidying. The same old excuses get trotted out, so we park it again for another few months.

I'd be keen to hear if anyone has had any success with hoarding behaviours.

Elsie212 Sun 14-Feb-16 20:43:08

It's horrible isn't it?

My Dad is a hoarder & it got worse when his parents died.

He now has a genuine fear that he will be left with nothing so keeps everything - used envelopes, thousands of pens that don't work, paper photos of people he doesn't know or recognise etc etc.

The rooms in his home are now a 'joke' in that we make it a light-hearted situation such as 'Isn't the dining room table supposed to have a surface that you can access and then eat at?'

It is solely psychological. Socially he is in a good place so at the mo I'm not worried.

I am minimalist - shredding is my hobby, everything has a place & if it needs doing, I do it immediately.

Oasis888 Sun 14-Feb-16 21:56:03

Gosh, another child of hoarders here! I've never met anyone else with parents or a home like it. I can't take anyone I know to my parent's house. I don't actually know whether to laugh or cry. We've tried clearing out and it led to huge rows over what was going / items they found missing so we gave up. There are 4 places you can sit in the house (not in the same room) and literally no free surfaces. The thing that worries me is the damp walls behind the clutter. I can't do anything about it. The volume of items is so overwhelming. My home is really minimal as I'm so scared of becoming the same.

VocationalGoat Sun 14-Feb-16 22:08:19

Wow- another one here. Daughter of a hoarder (my mum). I can never understand the psychology behind it. It's caused so much stress and temporary rifts amongst us 3 siblings because whoever lives closest to mum, deals with it the most. I live 6000 miles away. So... I get a lot of heat from my one brother who's left dealing with it all.
Mum is a lovely person. We adore her...everyone does. But she is self centred.
I am an utter neat freak, constantly cleaning. Everything has to be spacious, open, tidy or else I get super stressed..I am a bit OCD and I am positive it stems from my upbringing. As a teen, I spent every spare hour cleaning the house before mum could make a tip of it again. It became so much worse when we all left home. My brother's kids (age 11, 9, and 3) live a couple of hours away and they see grandma a lot but they have never actually been to her house. You can't visit.It's just too cluttered. It's sad.

Mamaka Sun 14-Feb-16 22:12:42

I'm on my way to becoming a child of a hoarder! My mum isn't too bad but my stepdad is awful and he's definitely having an influence on my mum! His garage is full of old ice cream tubs, lollipop sticks, beer bottles among other things, and his desk is the same. My mum doesn't let him put anything in the living room or their bedroom but I do feel as they get older they will get worse and my mum is getting used to it so no longer sees it as a problem.
My house is often messy and I'm terrified of becoming like them!

NancyDroop Sun 14-Feb-16 22:21:01

Another daughter of a hoarder here. For us it also got worse when we left home. I think the daily buzz and pace left with us so my DM is always putting off everything now, definitely tidying, cleaning.

I've decided not to stay there anymore when visiting with DH and DCs, it is too unwelcoming and dirty.

In addition to the hoarding it really bothers me when things break and don't get repaired. It is like she has lost all her 'get up and go'. Once I visited to find the freezer frozen open, with lots of solid ice formed around this ipen door. I was appalled and when asked my DM said it had been like that for months. I cried then, I was so horrified at the sad state of affairs.

NancyDroop Sun 14-Feb-16 22:23:08

I'm also very much a minimalist & tidier. Clutter makes me feel sick, clearly related to the emotions around trying to help my DM.

BloodyDogHairs Sun 14-Feb-16 22:29:18

My PIL are hoarders, it's got to the point I don't visit because all I do is sit and think that it's going to be DH and I left to get rid of the stuff when they are no longer here. The downstairs is a tip and I haven't been upstairs for years and years but I can imagine there is 3 rooms full too.

The funny thing is, we took my PIL on holiday with us last year and my FIL was picking up crumbs/making the bed etc before we would leave each day yet he lives in a house full to the brim of crap.

Kreacherelf Sun 14-Feb-16 22:34:08

Yup, my dad is a hoarder... sad

Him and mum split a few years back, he got the house in the divorce. Since she left, you can't even get j to most rooms as there's stuff coming out the doors. We have tried talking, reasoning, etc. but nothing works!

Occasionally he will eBay something if he finds that it's valuable, other than that, it stays.

What makes it worse is that one of our sisters is a newspaper writer, he buys everything she writes... Which is almost a whole bedroom by now! sad

NancyDroop Sun 14-Feb-16 22:39:12

Has anyone had any luck with getting their hoarders to declutter, tidy, clean? What can be done?

Ticktacktock Sun 14-Feb-16 22:43:35

Another one here. My dad used to work in demolition, so he would go through skips and take home any thing he thought was useful. Me and dh used to call him Steptoe. His shed is about 3 ft deep in shit even though he died several years ago. My mother is the same of course. Papers and carrier bags stuffed everywhere. She is filthy too though and lives in squalor. It pisses me off so much that I will have it all to sort out when she pops off.

I am quite minimalist like others here, but I do struggle a bit with stuffing cupboards and wardrobes fuller than they should be. And I struggle with throwing clothes away too.

Ticktacktock Sun 14-Feb-16 22:44:58

My mother gets very upset Nancy when I try to throw things away. Not worth it, she's too long in the tooth now.

Kreacherelf Sun 14-Feb-16 22:51:12

You can try to convince them to eBay/car boot anything worth a few quid...

As for the junk, I have no idea...

TopOfTheCliff Sun 14-Feb-16 23:51:08

I have a hoarding DM and my DP has a hoarding DF and DM. His parents made their house uninhabitable which came to a head when his DF was depressed and fell and broke his hip. When the ambulance brought him home the paramedics wouldn't leave him there as the house was unheated and too crowded for him to walk with a frame. It took us four years to clear it. He is still depressed but lives in a warm clean bungalow now.

My DM will let me clear out cupboards and shelves but only if she can supervise and save things from the bin. She is a control freak!

I have DP on a short leash and patrol his clutter fiercely. He has never been taught how to tidy up. He cleans okay but he never sorts out or puts away.
It seems to be my life's work taking stuff to recycling or charity shops or hiding it in my car to put in my own bins. DM and DFIL just bring it back in from their own bins!

tallwivglasses Mon 15-Feb-16 00:24:31

There's a couple of good articles if you Google 'Guardian articles hoarding' that give a lot of insight. It took a shock for my friend to start sorting her stuff. She collapsed and the paramedics couldn't get equipment or a stretcher into the house. Her family threatened to put her into a nursing home if she didn't sort her stuff out and that would mean getting rid of everything.

mrsplopper Mon 15-Feb-16 17:01:45

My mother is also a hoarder, she was always untidy, then moved in to a lovely council bungalow, about 5 years ago, she basically never unpacked properly and is addicted to buying more big items of furniture and house hold items. She has a lawn mower in the shower and a fridge freezer in the lounge! She has so much stuff she has to sleep on the sofa.
To make things worse she is also paranoid, she loses stuff and swears blind someone has been in to her house and taken them, or that people have chipped or scratched stuff. She hardly goes out, so we all know it's not true!! I've fallen out with her so many times trying to reason with her, I just go along with it now. But she's not old, 65, and very fit and presentable for her age. I don't think people who talk to her out and about realize there's something wrong, maybe until they get talking to her, then she will tell them odd things. I find it all very stressful and don't really know how to deal with it. We haven't got much family, we are scared to visit half the time, as she has accused us all of all sorts! I don't suppose it will get better 😢

3luckystars Mon 29-Feb-16 13:48:19

Thank you all for your honest replies. I imagine they were hard to write for some of you, because they are upsetting to read. I certainly found my initial post difficult to put into words, because my parents are lovely people and the most generous parents anyone could wish for. I re-read this thread on Sundays, because that's the day I visit their house.

My dad has 100 of the same items, say toolboxes, in fairness he could lay his hands on anything you ask him for but its the volume of things. He now has 3 sheds, a garage and an attic full of things and he said to me he was thinking of getting another shed!!

My mother on the other hand, is really messy. She has worthless crap all over her room, papers etc. She also doesn't wash herself and sleeps on a rag of a mattress with holes in it. Its like self neglect with her so its a different type of mess.

The story about the mother looking for plates every weekend at car boot sales really got to me. Her poor son. Thank you all so much for posting your stories.

KeepCoolCalmAndCollected Mon 29-Feb-16 14:22:06

My mother was a hoarder, probably not as bad as some mentioned here, but it still took two of us 6 solid weeks to clear her house out when she died. Horrible because although it really was junk, it was important junk to her, and I definitely felt guilty at times.
Funny how most of us on here are minimalist isn't it!!

KramerVSKramer Mon 29-Feb-16 15:16:57

My uncle has turned a beautiful new build apartment in to a smelly, dusty, cluttered state inside 3 years. He must have 120 picture frames leant up by the skirting boards ready to go on the wall and 5000+ pieces of opened post strewn throughout.

He has bags of rubbish all over the kitchen floor and every surface is filled with junk.

Absolutely no chance of him ever sorting it out.

Here's some evidence. He's let it get worse since.

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