Resources For Families of Hoarders

This month, we’ve talked a bit about hoarding disorder – myths vs. reality. If you think you have a loved one who hoards, you know it’s very hard to start a discussion with that person. There is still a huge stigma around mental illness and there’s still a lot we don’t know about hoarding. We do know that people who hoard carry a huge level of shame about their problem and it greatly affects the entire family. Here are some resources for families of hoarders.

 

Hoarders.com and HoardingCleanup.com – Both of these companies are owned by Cory Chalmers, one of the experts you’ve likely seen if you’ve ever watched ‘Hoarders’ on A&E or Lifetime. I worked with Cory on an episode of Hoarders a few years ago. He is a warm, relaxed, and compassionate professional. I couldn’t recommend his companies highly enough.

ClutterCleaner is owned by Matt Paxton, also of ‘Hoarders’ fame. Matt is ‘what you see is what you get’, which I love. Funny, smart, and he cares deeply about the people he helps. ClutterCleaner’s website is also chockful of information about hoarding, including teleclasses on hoarding and helping loved ones who hoard.

Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) is a wonderful organization founded by Judith Kolberg, an trailblazer in hoarding work and research (and an all-around lovely human being). The ICD offers thorough information on hoarding, resources for families of hoarders, and educational resources for professionals, too.

Children of Hoarders offers a great variety of resources for families of hoarders, with education, support groups (in person and online) and a directory of therapists and psychologists who are trained in anxiety disorders, OCD, and hoarding.

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Hoarding Disorder ~ Myth vs. Reality

Today’s blogpost is all about hoarding disorder ~ myth vs. reality. According to a recent survey by Insure.com, 46% of adults say they know someone who hoards. 46%! While little is known about hoarding, we certainly know more than we did. Many hoarding experts say that, on average, there is at least one person struggling with hoarding in every US neighborhood. The reality is that you probably do know someone who struggles with hoarding.

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So, let’s play Myth vs Reality.

Myth: ‘Those hoarders’ are only found in low-income, blue collar neighborhoods. We could never have a neighbor here who hoards.

Reality: Hoarding does not discriminate by income.  There are people living in government housing who struggle with hoarding. There are people living in multi-million dollar homes with famous names who struggle with hoarding.

Myth: Those people aren’t sick, they’re just too lazy to clean up after themselves.

Reality: Most clients who struggle with hoarding would describe themselves as perfectionists. They are stuck between getting something done and getting something done perfectly. So, nothing ever gets done.

Myth: She’s so put together/smart/educated, etc, etc.! She couldn’t possibly be someone who hoards!

Reality: I know of teachers, retired nurses, psychologists, corporate executives, and prominent society ladies who have struggled with hoarding. You cannot tell from personal appearance, career success, etc if someone struggles with this disorder.

If you’d like to learn more about hoarding, the Institute for Challenging Disorganization is a fantastic source for learning more about hoarding. Their Clutter Hoarding Scale is used by professional organizers and mental health experts alike to determine the severity of the person’s hoarding. They also conduct teleclasses for the public to learn more.

 

 

30 Day Challenge ~ Total Recall (aka Full Daily Recap!)

Whew! Another 30 Day Challenge is behind us! So, how did you do? Did you get all 30 done? Most? A few a week? Regardless of how many you managed to do, it was that many steps closer to a decluttered home – awesome!

organizing quick tips

If you missed a few and want to catch up, here are all 30 areas. Also, if you ever want to do this on your own timeframe, you can find these on the blog page. Just click on ’30 Day Challenge’ in the tag cloud. Happy decluttering!

Day 1 ~ Table Linens & Napkin Rings

Day 2 ~ First Aid Supplies

Day 3 ~ Candles

Day 4 ~ Towels & Sheets

Day 5 ~ Cell Phone Apps

Day 6 ~ Office Supplies

Day 7 ~ Body Products & Skincare

Day 8 ~ Laundry Supplies

Day 9 ~ Gardening Stuff

Day 10 ~ Baking Tools & Accessories

Day 11 ~ Coupons & Gift Cards

Day 12 ~ Stationery & Notecards

Day 13 ~ Old Cords & Cables

Day 14 ~ Loyalty Cards

Day 15 ~ Swim & Beach Stuff

Day 16 ~ Glove Compartment

Day 17 ~ Manuals & Warranties

Day 18 ~ Old Paint

Day 19 ~ Vitamins & Supplements

Day 20 ~ Software

Day 21 ~ Scarves, Gloves, & Hats

Day 22 ~ Kitchen Appliances

Day 23 ~ ‘Collectibles’

Day 24 ~ Emotional Clutter

Day 25 ~ PC Screen Desktop

Day 26 ~ Craft Supplies

Day 27 ~ Grudges

Day 28 ~ Beach Towels

Day 29 ~ Car Trunk

Day 30 ~ Unrealistic Expectations

30 Day Challenge: Day 30 ~ Unrealistic Expectations

Unrealistic expectations

One of the biggest misconceptions I come across in my work is unrealistic expectations, two in particular. One of the unrealistic expectations is that your home should always be perfectly clean, decorated, and organized – regardless of the two dogs and three kids! Some clients are shocked that I (a professional organizer!) have a junk drawer. Of course I do!

The point of having an organized home is not that your home will be perfect. It’s that you have systems in place, so when you go around and pick up things around the house, they have a home to go to! And that saves you time, money, and sanity.

The other of the unrealistic expectations is that you can clear years and years of clutter in just a few days. When I worked on episodes of ‘HOARDERS’ on A&E, here’s what you, as viewers, saw: a hugely cluttered house, completely cleared out in 3 days.

Here’s what you didn’t see: 12-15 trash hauler guys, 5 professional organizers, 1 psychiatrist, 3-4 junk trucks (each making several runs per day to the dump), and 14-hour work days. And generally, it was considered successful if we got more than 3 rooms cleared, y’all.

Lay down your expectations. It’s just another kind of emotional clutter. Your home didn’t get disorganized and cluttered in a day or a week. It won’t get disorganized and decluttered in a day or a week. If you’re DIYing, take it slow and set small goals. If you’ve tried DIYing it and it just isn’t working, consider investing in hiring a professional organizer. Either way, be kind to yourself.

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30 Day Challenge: Day 29 ~ Organizing Your Car Trunk

Organizing your car trunk

Hopefully, your car trunk doesn’t look like this one. But it probably does have some level of clutter. Sports gear, emergency supplies, those reusable grocery bags, you know what I’m talking about. Take a few minutes today to really assess what you need to keep back there. The less cluttered it is, the more easily you can grab what you need. The less cluttered it is, the less weight your car has to carry, which results in better gas mileage!

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Organizing tips for summer: 30 Day Challenge: Day 28 ~ Beach Towels

Organizing tips for summer

Summer will be here before we know it! Take a few minutes today to pull down your beach towels and take stock of what you have. Set aside any faded, torn, or otherwise ratty looking beach towels and drop them off at your local animal rescue, animal control, or SPCA. Trust me, they will greatly appreciate it!

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Old Grudges: 30 Day Challenge: Day 27

Old grudges

Old grudges. They are, without a doubt, a huge source of emotional clutter. And emotional clutter can very frequently lead to tangible, physical clutter. So, take a few minutes about any old grudges that you’re holding onto. Regardless of fault, is holding that grudge providing you any positive benefit? Chances are slim. So let it go. And feel the weight lift off of your shoulders.

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Organizing craft supplies ~ 30 Day Challenge: Day 26

Organizing craft supplies

Crafts are fun. Crafting clutter – not so much. And it can be a huge challenge for people who also craft with their kids. Bins upon bins upon bins of glitter glue, scrapbooking paper, cutters, stencils, pencils….

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The first challenge in organizing craft supplies is really to be brutally honest with yourself. How much free time do you actually have to devote to crafting? Compare that to the size of your crafting supply stash. Adjust accordingly. What you decide to keep, organize craft supplies by type and category, so when you do have time to craft, you don’t waste that time hunting down what you need!

Whatever you decide to donate, ask your kids’ teachers. Chances are they’ll welcome it with open arms. If they don’t, how about brightening the lives of women and kids in your local shelter? Now, go forth and declutter!

30 Day Challenge: Day 25 ~ PC Desktop

Take a look at your desktop. How would you describe it? Are your icons easily identified and found, or does it look the computer version of 285 at 5:30?

Ever heard the phrase ‘clear desk = clear mind’? Same with your computer desktop! Studies have shown that the average person spends 55 minutes each and every day looking for things they can’t find. An hour per day! Decluttering your PC desktop can help that dramatically.

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Take 5-10 minutes today and clear your desktop of files you no longer need to keep (birthday planning notes from last month, software you don’t use, pictures that are fuzzy, et al) and move infrequently ones to a more logical location.

 

Emotional Clutter ~ 30 Day Challenge: Day 24

Emotional clutter

I like to include some intangible clutter in these challenges. Not because you can necessarily remove them from your life in a day (how awesome would that be?!) But because emotional clutter is so very often the cause of your physical clutter.

So, make some time today to really put some thought into the emotional clutter you’re carrying around. And decide how you can make ONE step forward TODAY to getting it out of your head.

 

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