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Children Gone: What to Do With Belongings Left Behind

Children Gone: What to Do With Belongings Left Behind

    In honor of Mother’s Day, a post that we’re sure many moms can relate to…

    “I can’t believe she left her room such a mess!,” my frustrated client lamented following the exodus of her first child to college. As I looked around the room littered with books, clothes, memorabilia, shoes, old school papers and various forms of trash I could certainly understand her reaction. Since that time I have worked with other frustrated parents left reeling from the emotional upheaval of their children leaving home and then feeling burdened with the mess of belongings left behind. What’s a parent to do?

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    When children leave their belongings in a mess when they leave home, I believe parents have the right to take action to restore order in their home. When children leave physical chaos behind them it communicates to parents that those things aren’t very important. Since their belongings are subject to scrutiny by parents, they could be thrown away if they are deemed unimportant. Hmmmm. . . I wonder how many children have considered that what they have left behind could be tossed in the trash.

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    Parents have several choices about what to do with their children’s belongings once they’ve left home. The option that is chosen often depends on how often the child will be returning home to visit.

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    1. Leave as is. This is the path of least resistance. Just shut the door and walk away. Since feng shui teaches that everything is connected, however, you may not see the mess and chaos of the space every day, but its negative energy will have an effect on the energy of the home and on everyone living in the home. And, you’ll still know that the mess is there. Many women in particular find a stagnant mess very disturbing.
    2. Box them up and store them. With this approach you just throw everything into boxes and move them to the attic or a storage unit. The benefit is that you are able to reclaim the room for your own use. The downside is that you are either paying for a storage unit to house things that don’t belong to you or your valuable storage area at home is consumed with things that are meaningless to you.
    3. Go through them and keep only those things that seem to have value. Many parents have a good idea of what might be important to their children and are able to do a first pass through their belongings, whittling the mass of stuff down to the most precious and valuable belongings. Items commonly kept are seasonal and formal clothing, audio-visual equipment, musical instruments and memorabilia. Items deemed unimportant can be sent to a charity or thrown in the trash. Those items left behind are organized and ready to present to the child on their next visit home.
    4. Give children a deadline to go through their belongings before you get rid of them. Some parents are either unable to deal with their children’s belongings or just don’t want to do it. I’ve worked with many frustrated parents who just want their space back. They have asked their children to make decisions about their things and take what is valuable to them, and have been completely ignored by their children. It’s as if the parents are being held hostage by the things. My advice to them, after they have informed their children of their wishes for them to take ownership of those things that still matter to them, is to give their children a deadline. Let the children know that they have until the deadline to go through and take those things that still matter to them. After the deadline their belongings will be taken to a charity or the dump. And, it’s essential that parents honor the deadline and take action once it is reached. Setting a deadline is a way for them to take their own personal power back and not feel victimized by their children’s disregard for their request and their feelings. It can also be a very important lesson for children about taking responsibility for their things.

    Of course there are always extenuating circumstances that affect what you do regarding children and their belongings. For example, you most likely will cut your child some slack if they are in college, the military or overseas on a special job assignment and unable to do anything about their things. Or, your child may not yet live in a home large enough to accommodate their things.

    The important thing to remember is that there comes a time when you are not only doing yourself a disservice by continuing to house your children’s belongings, you are doing them a disservice. As long as a significant quantity of their things are still in your home, energetically they haven’t completely left home. Their belongings hold their energy and as long as those things are still in your house, it’s as if parts of them are still living at home. There comes a day when it’s time for them to leave the nest completely. They can’t fully mature and get on with their lives if part of them is still hanging out at your house.

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    Last Updated on December 9, 2019

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

    Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

    Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

    1. Get Rationally Optimistic

    Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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    This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

    In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

    The result: no more mental stress.

    2. Unplug

    Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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    How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

    It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

    Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

    3. Easy on the Caffeine

    Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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    Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

    4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

    That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

    How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

    • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
    • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
    • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

    While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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    5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

    This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

    The result: mental stress will be gone!

    So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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    Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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