A Mother's Struggle: When Your Family Won't Let You Throw Their Useless Crap Away

My family is currently in the midst of moving to a different house. We are in the decluttering stage and trying to move crap out of our current house so we can slap a “For Sale” sign in the yard and show it to move. I say “we”, but that is not entirely accurate. It is “I” who am doing the bulk of the work: throwing things away, taking multiple weekly trips to Goodwill, selling random things on buy-sell-trade sites, and packing boxes for the storage unit. It’s all me. And not because my husband won’t help, but more because he won’t do it right (aka: my way).

The part of this particular project that is the most challenging is that I live with a bunch of freaking hoarders. I’m serious. I actually read an article entitled “Is Someone You Love a Collector or a Hoarder” that came across my Facebook feed recently to determine if I should be seeking outside help. The jury is still out.

I haven’t decided who in my family is the biggest hoarder, but all of them have serious issues. My five year old is obsessed with keeping every scrap of paper he’s ever seen in his entire live long life. He loves to color and tear out all the coloring book pages to keep until the end of time. Heaven forbid I should ever throw any of them away. He will know. And I will hear about it. Usually in the form of a full on crying fit and a “you just hate me!” or “that was my very favorite!”  Really? That ¼ page you tore out from the Toys R Us catalog was your very favorite?? I find that very hard to believe. I have taken to hiding his "very special papers" inside other trash so he won't discover them in the trash can. Those that I can't throw away in time, he insists on displaying all of his special projects. Here is his latest “sticker creation” that he insists be hung on the fridge..

My 8 year old daughter collects hoards pretty much anything. She is an equal opportunity hoarder. I currently have a rule that if anyone brings anything new into the house, they have to take something out. This doesn’t seem like an overly complicated rule, but, for some reason, my dear daughter thinks that by “get rid of”, I actually mean “ multiply”. I think her stuffed animals are actually Gremlins.

Speaking of stuffed animals, my 11 year old has more stuffed animals than the Kardashians’ have selfies. The worst part is that he also has an amazing memory. And he is fairly sentimental.

“Hey, buddy! Can we get rid of this?”

“What?! NO! I got that in the claw machine in Minnesota on July 2, 2014.”

“Oh, you got this in a claw machine game? Well, then, we probably paid $47.00 for it, so, yeah, you better keep it.”

Of the 509 stuffed animals he has, I think he got rid of 2. And has brought 3 home since we went through his room.

He is turning 12 in a couple weeks and I know this love of stuffed friends will not last much longer at all. Someday soon he will look at me with disgust and insist we remove them all from his room. Knowing this, I will let him be a little boy a little while longer. A box full of stuffed animals is easy to carry.

The worst pack rat of the family is my husband. Everything to him either has sentimental value or “may be worth something someday”. Like this NFL VCR quarterback game.

I asked him if we could get rid of it because (a) it is from 1986, and (b) WE DON’T HAVE A VCR!!! He said no, he’d like to keep it. “Who knows? It may be worth something someday.”

You may be wondering; why do I even ask him? He'd probably never notice, why not just get rid of it? Because, with my luck, there may be a time in the future when he is wondering where that damn game is because, miraculously, it is worth thousands of dollars and then I’m the asshole that got rid of it.

And then there are the cups. The plastic “souvenir” cups from every MLB, NFL, local sporting event he’s ever been to. I assumed he would be fine with me parting with these. I assumed wrong.

"I'm going to get rid of these, okay?


"Um, what? Why not?"

He starts lovingly caressing them all.

"Well, this one we got when we took to the kids to their first MLB game. This one is from the Chiefs-Broncos game. This one..."

I'm thinking to myself WHO CARES? and say "Okay, why don't you just pick your very favorites". I'm thinking maybe three.  He picks sixteen. 

SIXTEEN plastic, freaking cups. Is he for real? I thought he was joking at first. He wasn't. 

I tried to stay calm. "Why do we need all these cups? We would never use them all. We would wash them before we ever used them all." My voice was getting higher and higher as I tried to keep my patience and my sanity. "Like these, for instance. Do we need four of the same one? Can we just keep one?"

"No, we need a backup. What if one breaks?"

Is the the Hulk? Who the heck breaks plastic cups?!?! And, who the heck cares?!?

I could tell I wasn't getting very far, so I just resigned myself the the fact that, for now, we are the proud owners of sixteen plastic cups. I will try hard to break some when he's not looking, if it can actually be done.

This moving process would be a lot easier if my family wasn't so attached to so much stuff and if they would let me get rid of some of their crap. I wish they could be as reasonable as I am. 

What's that, honey? Oh, those are my Santa Bears I got when I was in middle school. Yeah, I know they're big, but they may be valuable someday. NO! We can't get rid of that Caboodle! Because it holds so much! It's useful. Plus, I have good memories of it holding my scrunchies and my BonneBell lipgloss. How 'bout you leave the packing to me, mmmkay?

Geesh. Hoarders.