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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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    7 Ways To Stay Grounded by Staying Organized 12 Tips for Being Good Feng Shui Children Gone: What to Do With Belongings Left Behind How to Organize Your Paperwork to Boost Productivity Paper Piling, Horizontal Filing, and Other Filing Options

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

    We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

    So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

    Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

    What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

    Boundaries are limits

    —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

    Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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    Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

    Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

    Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

    How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

    Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

    1. Self-Awareness Comes First

    Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

    You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

    To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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    You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

    • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
    • When do you feel disrespected?
    • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
    • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
    • When do you want to be alone?
    • How much space do you need?

    You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

    2. Clear Communication Is Essential

    Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

    Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

    3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

    Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

    That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

    Sample language:

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    • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
    • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
    • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
    • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
    • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
    • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
    • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

    Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

    4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

    Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

    Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

    Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

    We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

    It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

    It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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    Final Thoughts

    Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

    Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

    Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

    The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

    Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

    Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

    They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

    Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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