I am often asked by my clients what they should do with other people’s clutter. They may be committed to keeping only what they love, need and use on a regular basis, but their spouse, children, siblings and friends may be clutter accumulators. They are constantly having to deal with other people’s clutter, or having them use their home as a storage unit. I asked Karen Kingston, author of the best-selling book Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui if she would share her recent article on this with my Care2 friends.
Karen: We’ve all heard of empty nest syndrome that some parents experience when their children grow up and leave home. But in many cases, cluttered nest syndrome would be a more exact description, because the children leave home but often their stuff does not.
The process is usually a gradual one. Maybe the adult child goes to college or university for a few years, goes traveling for a while, or moves somewhere to look for work. They generally do not want to take their childhood stuff with them, or have any place to put it if they did. The parents may also not feel ready to completely let them go, so are content for them to leave most of their things at home for a while.
But weeks turn to months, and months turn to years, and still the stuff remains. Even if the child returns home to visit from time to time, for most of the year their stuff remains untouched, gathering dust and stagnating the energy of the parental home. When I visit such a house, I can tell just by walking around and seeing where the children’s clutter is located, which aspects of the Feng Shui Bagua of the home are affected, and which corresponding aspects of the parent’s lives are in limbo because of it.
In one extreme case I saw recently, a single mother of three children was living in a three-bedroom home full to the brim with her adult children’s belongings, with no bedroom of her own to sleep in at all. She had moved into her son’s room, where half the floor area was already covered with bags full of his possessions, and had piled her own things on top. She couldn’t even get to the wardrobe to use it. If all three children came to visit at Christmas, as they usually did, she would move out to sleep in a caravan in the garden. None of the children had established a permanent home of their own so she continued to muddle by, with her own life on hold until theirs took shape. Not only that, but the most cluttered room was in the Relationships corner of the house, so it was no surprise to discover that she has no partner and very few friends.