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Mom's Online Shopping Is Too Much



"Now that the pandemic is “over,” I wonder how to stop my mother’s online shopping. She orders stuff daily, just because she can. It’s so easy for her to do. 

She no longer drives. The thrill of packages coming to her house just tickles her and they come so quickly, much to her constant surprise. Heaven forbid she discovers food delivery, too.

Mom grew up a farm girl and money was not plentiful. They never splurged and barely had enough for necessities. It’s shocking that suddenly at her old age she spends as though there’s no end to the money. 

All of us children worry about this spending and don’t know how to stop it. Items are piling up. She doesn’t use most of what she buys. Some items are never even opened. She just rips the tape off the shipping box and adds the thing she bought to the pile.

Is there anything we can do to stop the madness?"



I believe this is a worrisome situation for your family. Your mother has developed a very bad habit and somehow, it fills a need of hers. Much like other bad habits, it provides pleasure in the moment, but leaves others dealing with the fallout.

As you identified, shopping online is wonderfully easy for someone who cannot get out of the house. The reason it’s an issue is that it’s depleting her financial resources and cluttering her space.

Getting to the bottom of what motivates your mother to shop all day long may not be worth the effort. You simply need to figure out how to break it. In her case, it would be nice to resolve it before she piles up credit card debt and puts her future in jeopardy, if she hasn’t already. 

She likely needs some sort of intervention either by family members or a mental health professional. I personally would start with a direct conversation between Mom and a trusted child. Find out what her resources are, what debt she has collected, and what her thoughts are about her shopping habits. If she lets one of her children into her thoughts and wishes regarding the subject, the door is open and meaningful dialog can begin. If she’s receptive, simple steps can be taken to break the habit, such as: setting limits, leaving items in the cart for at least a week before purchasing, staying off certain sites, establishing an online budget, and others. One very effective method is to stop using the internet for a period while establishing a new routine. Do help her if she is receptive to the support and provide the daily assistance needed to find and establish new habits.

If the problem is newer and your mother is motivated to resolve it, there are programs and organizations that assist with this issue. A quick search online will reveal several.   

If your mother has a known mental health condition and is not approachable on this topic, more extreme intervention is necessary. In that scenario, accompany her to see her care. Adult Protective Services is a last resort if she’s harming herself with her actions. Your situation might be mild or extreme, but it’s hard to say without actual involvement. Do seek out professional support if needed.