Baby gear that is only used for a short period of time, rapidly changing clothes sizes, and piles of toys accumulate quickly.
It doesn’t end with the baby phase, though. As all guardians know, older kids and teens bring their own messes into the home.
Food-related messes combined with sleep deprivation can make it difficult to keep up with housework.
With children leaving clutter everywhere and food-related messes needing immediate care, it can be difficult to keep up with housework. Especially when you consider the sleep deprivation that also comes with kids.
Between art and science projects on the counter and smelly gym bags and laundry left around the house, things can get (or stay!) messy.
It doesn’t help that children aren’t well-known for cleaning up after themselves!
For example, immunocompromised individuals may need to be isolated, particularly due to the pandemic. They may not be able to do the needed cleaning themselves, however, they also feel they can’t bring in anyone to help.
Think of all the reaching and bending over. Consider all the hard scrubbing. With health issues, simple cleaning tasks take much longer to accomplish, if it can still be done.
Decreased mobility and increased health issues can make cleaning overwhelming or even impossible.
In addition, it can be difficult to let go of possessions accumulated over a lifetime.
People with anxiety may hold on to items in excess in case of a feared emergency or indecision about what to do with items.
The stress of an out-of-control home situation (whether it’s actually out of control or simply perceived to be) can create a negative feedback loop.
This cycle can leave those struggling with depression feeling more overwhelmed and less able to approach their home situation.
In addition, it can be difficult for a person with ADHD to create and stay focused on a plan for a big cleaning project.
Chapter 5 contains a list of cleaning techniques and organizational strategies to help counter this.
People with OCD sometimes deal with anxieties and emergencies by compulsively buying items.
They may have obsessions about running out of essential items or a buying ritual that is difficult to break out of.
Trauma can be a trigger for accumulating clutter. If someone grew up without:
They may feel driven to hold onto things rather than throw them away when they are no longer needed.
Buying new things triggers a brief dopamine high, bringing temporary emotional relief.
If you grew up in a home where clutter was common, you are more likely to show these behaviors yourself.
“Recent studies have shown that clutter in our homes is associated with higher cortisol levels [our stress hormone], but it’s still unclear which comes first,” says Dattilo.
“Is it that when we are under stress, our ability to maintain a well-organized home becomes impaired? Or when our home is in disarray, does that make us feel more stressed, overwhelmed, and anxious?”
Natalie Christine Dattilo, PhD, clinical health psychologist and instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, calls it a chicken-or-egg dilemma.
Regardless of the root of the issue, there is a way out. Resources are available to help you deal with your home situation. You’re using one of those resources right now!
Keep reading to discover how you can decrease your stress and live in a clean, comfortable space.