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A video on how we took the first step to declutter mums home

If you have been following you will know that my mum recently passed away very suddenly.  Mum and I were different in so many ways, I love baking she wasn’t a fan, my favourite colour is pink she can’t stand anything pink, I’m a minimilist and she lived in a very cluttered home.  Mum did not always have a cluttered home, in fact growing up it was clean and tidy, everything had its place and I remember one room was perfectly decorated which we children weren’t allowed to go in.

After mum’s mum passed away I saw changes in her.  She found it hard to throw things away, she couldn’t resist the 2 for 1 sales and she often purchased something just in case she needed it ‘one day’.  Her perfectly organised home soon became very cluttered.  I could tell mum didn’t like it, but she also didn’t want to talk about it.  When we spoke of the cardboard boxes that were slowly taking over her sun room she tried to change the subject or walk away.  

I tried many times sharing a decluttering book with mum that I found at the library, she nearly threw it back at me.  I tried to offer my help but she insisted she didn’t need to get rid of anything, she was happy sorting through it in her own time.  The more I tried the more it pushed us apart.  With the encouragement from friends to start my blog to share my recipes, printables and ideas I also started it with the hope to try to help mum.  Hoping she would read it and see my weekly decluttering tasks and follow along.  Unfortunately this didn’t happen.

One emotion I have been going through the past few weeks is failure, because I wasn’t able to help her.  But what pushes me through this is the wonderful messages I have received from my readers in how they just needed a challenge, a simple suggestion to get them on the path to part with their clutter and organising their home.  I am learning we are all different and I understand that when YOU are ready you will make the start and I WILL BE HERE for YOU.  

Please watch this video below to see how we took the first step to declutter mums home.

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  • Josiebishop_1987

    Big hugs Kat! I wish you all the strength in this terribly hard time.  xxReplyCancel

  • Mamacass51

    We will all be here to support you through this, I am sure your Mum is watching over you as you all work through it.  Maybe she was too embarrassed to let you help her, as many suffer with the issue of hoarding and just don’t know how to get out of it or stop it.  I know my Mum, bless her sole, was also a hoarder.  Take care ?ReplyCancel

  • Katrina
    Sending prayers, love and ((HUGS)) your way Katrina. Its hard to lose someone that you love.
    Keep the strength that you have.
    Luv TracyReplyCancel

  • Mandy

    Wow!  I can’t even imagine.  Good luck with the task ahead of you.  I’m sure amongst the sadness of it all you will stumble along a few gems that make you smile. ReplyCancel

  • Suzy

    Wow, that’s a lot of boxes! We had a similar situation after my Mum died, but she had things hidden away in various cupboards, so we weren’t aware of the extent of the hoarding. Similar to your mum’s peanut butter jars, my mum had kept icecream containers and old towels. In some ways, those types of things were the easiest to get rid of, although sad because they were obviously important to her. The harder things to deal with were the special items like costume jewellery and clothes, as well as all my dolls from when I was a child. I felt that if she had kept these things for so long (40 years in some cases), then who was I to just get rid of them? In fact, some of these things have joined the clutter in my house and I have found it too emotional to deal with them. But it’s been a few years now, and you’ve inspired me to start to deal with some of my mum-clutter. We can do it together!ReplyCancel

  • Mariah

    Whoa. This was a major wake up call for me. I’m only 35 but I have a whole room of office & life stuff that I have been needing to go through/unable to get rid of… needless to say, your video just gave me the courage to grant my husband his long sought wish of letting him throw it all out. I’m calling him now. It will all be gone within a week I’m sure and we will be free. Free as you say to do the things I truly enjoy… I’m so sincerely sorry for your loss. I hope it brings a teeny bit of comfort to know that you just saved my life. Seriously. Love and prayers, MariahReplyCancel

  • Leungchoip

    Thank you for sharing this journey.  I have been working through my mums clutter for the past two years, a little at a time, so by the time she passes it won’t be such a problem.  You will be able to deal with everything, as long as you don’t overtax yourself and remember  that it has taken many years to get this way so it won’t disappear overnight.  Good luck.  Think how much happiness you will be able to bring to others as you donate/sell/keep and give away.  Thinking of you and looking forward to sharing the journey with you.  thanks.  ReplyCancel

  • Shell-B

    Kat,
    You are so brave to share this with us. Hope you do find solace in the fact that you  really do inspire so many.
    I am sorry for your loss and hope you will be kind to yourself to get through this.ReplyCancel

  • Susie F

    I am so sorry for ur loss Katrina…. this has hit a nerve with me as i sit here in my pj’s at 1.30 pm after feeding my 5 week old baby and trying to entertain my 3.5yo son while looking at all my storage boxes full of stuff, piles of mementos that need to be sorted and all of the mess and clutter that adorns my home – my name is Susie and I am a hoarder :)  I am sick of it and continually tell myself that i need to declutter and throw stuff and it is impacting on time with my family….. i too seem to go through things, moving them from one room to another in my attempt to declutter and become more organised………… i should be outside enjoying the sun with my kids, not worried about what to start on in my poor attempts to fix the state of our home.  I am inspired and I am going to follow you on your journey and hopefully will finally get to enjoy the more organised, less cluttered life that i dream of :)  much love to you and your familyReplyCancel

  • Eliza

    Katrina, Thanks for you sharing your story. It must be very hard for you on so many levels. Please take all the time you need – away from this blog, if you need to – to give the decluttering and grief time. Will enjoy reading your blog whenver you are able to come back to it. ElizaReplyCancel

  • Jazzmum

    hugs to you during this difficult time. ReplyCancel

  • Vicki (N.Z.)

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us.  I too am a hoarder and have taken this week off to clean out my worst room.  One thing we all need to remember is that people hold onto things for many different reasons.  During the war/depression our parents/grandparents probably never threw anything out, it possibly became a habit, and that may be why some of our parents/grandparents have so much stuff.  We were quite “poor” when I was a child and Mum reused everything she possibly could, which may be where my hoarding “habit” came from.  However I do not want my friends/family to have to clear it out after I am gone so I am starting!  Bless you and your Dad and your family as you go through this difficult time.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa

    Thanks Kat – you are such a lovely mentor to us who struggle (the non-born organised amongst us).  Alot of us are visual people and so your pics & videos are what inspire us.  (Your video has just inspired me to go & tackle something on my procrastination list!)  Please also know, that your taking a little bit of time away from the blog has allowed some of us with a big list to catch up!  Just finished my gift wrapping centre & it looks sensational…  please feel free to post some of the archives, as they might be oldies but they’re all goodies.  Looking forward to tackling the kids’ wardrobes & have also just got the lunchbox things a bit more organised in time for back-to-school.  Big hugs {{{ }}}.  **Absolutely love your work**  Big hugs also to your Dad & Brothers for them allowing us to follow your journey.ReplyCancel

  • So sorry to read about your Mum. What a hard journey. Thanks for being so open and honest, I shall be following along. Need to organise my own home, and shed the clutter as well. Thanks.  ReplyCancel

  • Leah

    Im sorry for your loss Kåt and I will follow your story. I love your blog and it has some wonderful inspiring information. All the best xReplyCancel

  • Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo

    oh sweetie… so very very hard.

    My husband and my parents are hoarders and I know how hard it is for them to throw anything out.  And how hard it is for me to see them keep such – to me – useless things.

    I will be following along and sending strength.ReplyCancel

  • Jo

    As everyone else has said I am sorry to hear about your mums passing.  I have never been a overly tidy person, although I am an organiser and mostly organised we live in semi organised caios. My small 3 bed home is FULL to the rafters with STUFF.  My hubby is a horder from a family of horders … (his mother gave me a box 2 years ago with EVERY little thing he had ever given her from kinda through to he was 18 and expected me to keep it as safely as she had done … it went in the bin – much to her discussed). Hubby keeps newspapers never reads them but keeps the whole thing.  The mess gets to me so much that once every couple of months I have an almost breakdown take a few days of work and through everything I can get away with out … the bad part about doing it this way is I loose important things.  I can also be part of the problem as I will see something on special and think “oh, I want that” and just get it soo we have soo much JUNK not stuff that we would ever need or use but just cus I thought it COULD oneday be usefull.  I am going to try and follow your recomendations and try and get my house organised.  Thanks and good luck with your parents place.ReplyCancel

  • Sam

    We recently lost a member of our family, and it truly has an unfathomable impact. The loss is very hard to come to terms with. Wishing you every strength. Take heart from your opportunity now to really help your Dad deal with an enormous task.

    Your blog has inspired so many small changes in my home that have made a big difference… and yes, there’s a way to go yet!! Many thanks. S ReplyCancel

  • Deborah

    My absolute love to you Kat. This particular blog has given me goosebumps. I am not a hoarder but my husband tries… despite the fact that he hated living in a “hoarders” home growing up! Its such a tricky, intensely emotional and overwhelming process to go through. I helped my husband in this process when his father passed away 7 years ago. It was hard – his mother (who no longer lived there as she had left a few years before hand) came in as my husband and his brothers were going through everything and throwing out most of it, She went off at my Husband and then me for getting rid of “important things”… I won’t go into how those things were NOT important, but I did my best to shelter my Husband and his brothers from the outburst. As it was not benefiting them as they were all ready to move on and do what their dad needed several years before his passing – he hated the clutter but didn’t know what to do about it, and they (my husband and his brothers) didn’t know how to help.
    Its amazing to be free of these “things”, as My husband tells me – he is so glad that he was able to go through all of those things. It was an almost “cleansing” from him, it was something he didn’t know how to do, until I could hold his hand and be there right with him.
    xxReplyCancel

  • Bianca

    Kat, thinking of you during these hard times and sending love. It’s a hard hard job and I hope you are able to find strength from family and friends. x

    bianca – a little delightful xReplyCancel

  • Tamkennedy

    What a tower of strength you are, I love getting your tips, thinking of you. I don’t know what I would do without my mum xxReplyCancel

  • Jenn

    OMG Katrina.  This is so close to my heart.  I too lost my mother suddenly and unexpected, in fact, a few days before your mum’s passing.  I know I must watch your video but cannot find the courage to hit the play button.  My mother was a hoarder and the thing that stops me at the play button is the photo of all those boxes.  This could be my mother’s house.  I am currently co-caring for my father who suffers early onset of Alzehemiers and soon to take on full time care.  Every time I step into my parents home, the pain is heightened as I realised that I am yet faced with the fact that I must dispose of all the stuff she couldn’t. I have to watch my father amongst this mess which only leaves him confused, overwhelmed, lost and anxious.  How sad that all the clutter was adding to my father’s Alzehemiers.  I’m also faced with the fact that I need to declutter my own home which I was slowly progressing with but now realise that I need to speed up the process.  My heart goes out to you and the bravery you have shown by facing it and tackling it.  There will come a day that I will hit that play button but for now your video sits quietly waiting for me.   
    ReplyCancel

  • Alisha Luxford

    My mum and I read this together and both shed a little tear for you. 

    Mum tried to explain some of the thoughts that can go through your mind when you’re getting on in age, and especially menopausal. 

    You want to hang onto everything that has memories attached to it. You can get a bit sentimental about the strangest things. For instance, Mum crocheted my newborn twins some blankets, and she didn’t want to get rid of the tiny bundles of wool she had left. They were pretty much useless to make anything. 

    After seeing this blog and video, she can understand that really, it’s the memory she wanted to keep, not the wool. Perhaps that’s how your dear Mum started? 

    In any sense, I wish you, and your family strength at this hard time. My prayers will be for you tonight. 

    Alisha. ReplyCancel

  • I’m glad you have the support of your Dad and brothers to tackle this job. I wish you all the very best Katrina, and hope that as the clutter is sorted, you can think more about your mum and not the stuff she was hoarding. Hugs.ReplyCancel

  • Fion a

    I am feeling for you and the huge task ahead of you. My inlaws are hoarders and their house had a tree through it during the 2008 storms that hit brisbane. We removed 80 cubic metres of stuff from their house and sadly less than 4 years later it is all starting to build up again. I hope you can give your dad some peace and restore some space in their house for him. All my loveReplyCancel

  • Angela

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. I’m sure you will inspire many others with your strength and bravery – thinking of you at this difficult time.ReplyCancel

  • Kath Wong

    Oh Kat, you are so brave. Brave to go through all of the boxes your mum had collected so close after her passing, brave to let us see the process (it is of course so personal to you), and brave to show your face to us while doing it! I wish you luck and strength as you tread this path. Deepest sympathy
    Kath ReplyCancel

  • Carrie

    Dear Kat, as always you never cease to inspire me, even in your times of sadness you continue to share and inspire!!!  Thank you.  I have my very elderly mum living with me and my poor husband has no garage space now with all her ‘special, precious STUFF’ stored there.  I will follow your journey with interest and know you will continue to motivate me as you always do.  good luck with the journey, be strong and treat yourself gently.  hugs and thanksReplyCancel

  • Emma

    Dear Kat

    Your video brought me to tears as I realised the very sad and difficult time you are experiencing right now.  Please try not to beat yourself up about removing your Mum’s things from the home.  It will be such a help to your Dad and I believe your Mum is now in a place where she can appreciate the things you are doing to care for him.  How lucky he is to have you & your brothers around him.

    Thank you so much for your courage in sharing this post with us, it has inspired me not to put off those things I should have been getting organised around my own home, and also to give both my parents extra good hugs this week!

    Take care of yourself (you know you need to in order to take care of others right?) and know that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel very soon.

    Emma xReplyCancel

  • Terry

    This must be so difficult for your family to go through all your Moms things. makes me miss my Mom so much, she’s been gone for 12 years now and she had the emptiest closets I had ever seen. I wish they would’ve been some stuff to go through. my heart goes out to you and your family. How you didn’t shed a tear while making the video is beyond me, I have a huge lump in my throat. Take care and wishing you comfort as you tackle this heartbreaking task.
    ReplyCancel

  • Anon

    Oh sweetheart thank you for sharing your journey.  Hang in there, you’ve given your father an amazing gift.  Remember your mum for all the ways you loved her.  Our parents are fallible, and an important life lesson is to let go of the things that you can’t change – it is hard to let go of the ideal picture of what we want them to be and accept as they are,  Good luck with the next stepsReplyCancel

  • My mother in law is a hoarder. It breaks my heart. She has a styrofoam cup from when her sister ws in the hospital when she was 2. She will not get rid of it because her sister may want it back one day. UGG, She says she wants change. My husband wants to use all his vacation time to help her. ReplyCancel

  • FJW

    Thanks for sharing and thanks for being strong for your mum.  Take courage in knowing you have helped many of us along your own journey and will continue to do so as we journey with you. Cheers!ReplyCancel

  • Tammy James

    Hello beautiful! I don’t visit any blogs as much as I used to but saw this in my facebook feed and wanted to say hi and pass on my condolences to you and your family. I see how difficult this is for you and admire you and your brothers for tackling this with your dad to help him have a free-er environment. Sending you love and strength and thank you for sharing :) ReplyCancel

  • barbara001

    Thankyou for sharing your blog on decluttering your mum’s place. I am so glad i found your site. You have given me alot of inspiration and ideas on how to do things better. My condolences to you & family during this sad time. I lost my father 7 mths ago and still dealing with his passing. As you say we can go through this journey together. Take care xo
     ReplyCancel

  • This sounds to be an amazing way to keep up the home away  from de-clutter.ReplyCancel

  • sophie.hills

    Thanks so much for sharing Katrina.  I think we get a deeper insight into why you want to help us to get organised.  Take care, and I’m looking forward to sharing the journey with you (and helping myself get better de-cluttered)! Hugs for your loss.ReplyCancel

  • Anita

    First of all, I am so sorry about losing your mum, especially so suddenly. My prayers are with you.

    I have only just recently found your site and I wish I had found it 12 months ago when I had a breakdown over my clutter. I ended up seeing a councillor to sort through what was holding me back from sorting out all my junk. 12 months later, I am still on the journey, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

    I saw the pictures of your mums home and I have to say it scared me. It is almost exactly like my mothers. While she does not store peanut butter jars and the like, she just cant stop buying stuff she doesn’t need. It is only her and dad in the family home now and she doesn’t need eight baking pans, as an example. She has two shipping containers, full of apple boxes with costumes in it from when she was a costume mistress. She has not done any plays in years, but she continually adds to the collection. I just fear that it will get worse and eventually it will just take over. I also know that you can’t force anyone to begin to de-clutter. Some people will never be able to get to that stage. I can empathise with your feelings towards your mum and dads home and I hope it all goes well. ReplyCancel

    • It sounds like you know exactly how I am feeling. Mum too has a shipping container I am yet to look in. I wish you well on your journey and I am so pleased that you found my site too JReplyCancel

  • tomi

    So sorry to hear about your mum. Thinking of you and your family, take care. ReplyCancel

  • Davistrans

    Thank you for sharing your video and story. I’m sure it will be truley inspirational for so many people. Sorry to hear about the loss of you mum, my thoughts are with you.ReplyCancel

  • Kyles93

    Your story touched me today as today is 6 years since my mother unexpectedly passed away.  Unlike you, I have only a few things of hers as my sister has mental health problems and had thrown most things away over the years.  Anyway, thinking of you and your family.  Hold onto each other – it is a very difficulty heartaching time xxxooo ReplyCancel

  • Danelle69

    One thing I heard from someone who helps with de-cluttering in the US, there is a point when the clutter starts to collect, something triggers it.  He suggested that you have a look at the magazine in the bottom of the  stack (if they are collecting them) for an idea on the trigger date.  Was an intersting thought.ReplyCancel

    • Absolutely and I have learnt what the trigger was, sadly we missed all the signs at the time.ReplyCancel

  • Liz

    Well done Kat, you are doing a wonderful job. We have just finished cleaning out my brothers house, he passed a few days after your mum, and although it was sad and difficult we did manage to have a few giggles at things we found and old memories that these items brought back. Our loss has inspired me to de clutter my house and my life and I will be following you for advice, tips and motivation. Much love to you and your family xoReplyCancel

  • Monique

    Hi Katrina, thank you for sharing this difficult journey you and your family are now taking.  I have been following your blog for quite some time now, as I have too much stuff and am not organised enough, so it’s a regular inspiration to see what ideas you have for us.  I remember reading some time ago about your reasons for starting up this blog, to help your friend who had lost her mother.   It hit a nerve with me as we lost our dad 20 years ago, and my mother like yours, began to expand on her ‘collecting’ hobby, from teddy bears to old bottles and all sorts in between.  She said it was an interest, but sadly got to the point that we could no longer stay with her when visiting, as there is just not enough room, because of her stuff, she lives in a 4 bedroom family home on her own.  Hoarding creates stresses in relationships, as the hoarders become very defensive of their stuff, (in my mums case even cardboard boxes and old toothbrushes).  I have not been to her house in years now, even though we have recently moved from the other side of the country to within a short drive.   I know that she is avoiding having my family visit.  She says she is clearing out things, but I know that this is difficult.  I have now chosen to step back, for the sake of my own sanity, (and my husbands).  It is in someway reassuring that there others experiencing the same emotions.  Best wishes to you and your family and keep up the great work on the website. ReplyCancel

  • My mum passed away suddenly on the 27th March 2011, i’m a solo mum and she was my world apart from my children. She was also a hoarder of everything, you described my mum to a tee. Only she didn’t have neat organised boxes, it was everywhere, to the point there was no where to sit when we visited. My brother and i filled a large skip bin in one day when we had to empty out the house she rented. Time is passing and it does get easier but i am glad i found your website as i can see myself heading down her track and i hope that this will give me a new start. Much love and prayers to you, it isn’t easy.ReplyCancel

    • Ooh Katrina (wonderful name), it’s such a hard process and I feel that because of the hoarding it has really drawn the process of loosing mum more than I can bare. I am pleased that my website can possibly help you to keep an uncluttered home xReplyCancel

  • Bec Waterhouse

    Your poor mum. She must have been so embarrassed about her hoarding :( It must have been hard for you to watch her go through that.

    I’m very sorry for your loss.ReplyCancel

  • [...] my parents house after the passing of mum.  If you are new to the blog, you can read further about the first step of decluttering mums home.   [...]ReplyCancel

  • Jilly

    {{{{hugs&prayers}}}} Katrina, as you and your family cope with this sad event! You are very brave!

    Jilly oxoxoReplyCancel

  • Mira

    I feel for your loss and pray for you and your mom,but I wonder why you have a need to embarrass your mom by airing her ” hoarding” it did not bother her,why is it bothering you and why does the world need to know?…It should be private ,I think she would preferred it that way.You can get support and fulfilment in other ways.
    May God give you and her peace.ReplyCancel

    • Caris

      If it did not ‘bother’ her then it cannot ‘embarrass’ her now. Kat is fantastic about being honest and real – and it doesn’t get more honest and real than facing the fact that your parent is a flawed human being like everyone else. I read no criticism in this page – this is part of who her mother was in the end, part of their relationship. And if someone else who is going through the same thing right here and now can see this and know that they are not alone, that it is nothing to be ashamed about and that they can talk about it, then I think it is a wonderful thing.ReplyCancel

    • Mira, I shared this post because of the experience I was left to help my Dad and brothers with. That was to go through all her items, her treasures, her … stuff. She was a hoarder and it made the process of her passing away so much harder. It was a really long and slow process of clearing that took us months. To be honest I didn’t really come to terms with what had happened to her so suddenly passing away until we finished moving my Dad. I will forever miss my mum but that grieving process was so long and drawn out, I was not myself for a good 9 months. My hope from this post was that somebody that is a hoarder to realise how hard it is on the family that is left behind to go through the things and hopefully they can make a change.ReplyCancel

      • Cath

        Hi Katrina,

        I was wondering if you were comfortable, and have the time, if you could possibly write a series of more extensive posts on what you did to clear out your mum’s stuff. Did you sell anything? Give things away to family/friends/school/op shop? Did you get a skip? Were there any disagreements about what to do with things? How did you manage those? Was it more challenging because your Dad wanted to keep things the way they were? How did you manage your grief amongst all of this? Did you keep anything yourself? And how long did you work on it?

        I’m facing a similar task within the next twelve months and the thought of it is almost overwhelming.

        Many thanks.ReplyCancel

  • JH

    Thank you for sharing your story, I felt your pain but can also tell you are a very strong person who will move forwards with this process. To part with the belongings of someone we loved is very tough, but when the volume of items is mammoth it makes the process so much longer and harder to deal with doesn’t it.
    I wish you peace and happy times ahead, with good memories of your Mum in your heart.ReplyCancel

  • Desré Nikolich

    From what you have said about your Mum it seems that she was very organised as a young parent and its seems when she lost her mother something inside of her changed. Do you think your Mum may have had a lot of grief and loss which affected her emotionally? Maybe she slipped into depression and was having troubles coping. Maybe it all became too much for her and she was going through the motions. It seems despite your difference you were close to your Mum. You should never feel a sense of failure and shame about not being able to help your Mum. Maybe she felt like a failure and shameful as she couldn’t pull it all together like you. Maybe your competence showed her of her incompetence to keep her life in order. She needed love just as you need love. We all need love to function. Maybe her mother was a huge part of her source of love. We all live and grow and change with the seasons of our lives.ReplyCancel

  • Desré Nikolich

    By the way Katrina my Mum is a hoarder too. I have been trying to get her for years to start decluttering but she also has difficulties letting go of things as she puts emotional attachment to things. She has had many losses too – her mother had Alzheimer’s and disappeared and was never found. She has lost my Dad and a second husband to cancer. She has lost her sister to cancer. I too have too many things due to renovating and having things stored. Before I had a hard time letting go of things but now appreciate the opportunity to purge – let things go – to free myself up. I guess it is a bit like dieting. One needs to be in the right head space to make changes. I guess how I can most inspire my Mum is to show by example and take time with her and assist her to start decluttering at her own pace.ReplyCancel

  • Susan Lavigne

    First, thank you for sharing your story. even if it seems to have been two years loosing a parent has to be rough. She has a great legacy though. Her family loved her and she must have done a great job raising you if you turned out as amazing as you did never mind the cluttered house ( though it must have been horrendous to have dealt with)
    I have just found you this morning and I think you are just what I need. I am a new Mom and have moved six times in the last 3 years. Life has been good to me though, with a great family and a loving husband to be, I am finally settling after a tumultuous decade that was my 20′s.
    The final barrier is the mess that is the house. I still feel overwhelmed and unbalanced but one step at a time things will get better. One more move though as we are buying a house this year. Trying to make it our last move.

    Thank you againReplyCancel

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