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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 March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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