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Annie’s Mailbox: Offer to help out MIL with clutter

Dear Annie: My mother-in-law is not a true hoarder, but she’s definitely a packrat. Her house has drawers, cabinets and boxes filled with unfinished craft pieces, papers so old you can’t read the faded print, moldy magazines, dried paint, cracked pottery, broken candy dishes and junk tucked into nooks and crannies so deep no one has seen the contents in years.

She is the only one who knows where anything important might be “filed.” She is widowed and retired and has the time and the physical ability to go through this stuff. Her two children help with yardwork and home improvement, but they don’t have time to pick through her collections.

My mother-in-law is not depressed. She’s just lazy and has poor organizational skills. She spends too much time watching TV and emailing. I am hoping she might recognize herself in your column. How can I convince her to de-clutter before it’s too late? – Don’t Want To Pick Through the Weeds

Dear Don’t: If Mom has poor organizational skills, the idea of going through her vast collection of miscellany is both overwhelming and paralyzing. She needs someone to assist her, one drawer at a time, perhaps once a week, to make it manageable. You could offer to do this or suggest it to another family member. Or hire a professional organizer. And it’s possible that Mom’s church or other community organization has volunteers who might help out.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@ comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.


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