I recently heard someone describe their home as “chaotic”. I can’t imagine that coming home to a completely confused and disordered house each day would do much to increase your happiness. Just the thought of being surrounded by turmoil and pandemonium makes me stressed. Studies have shown living in a chaotic households has a negative impact on children’s behavior, IQ and can even cause depression. I don’t suspect it is very good for adults either.
Home should be a haven – a place where you can refresh and recharge and be buffered from the demands of work and the world. It doesn’t have to be big or grand but it should be a place you want to be.
I work in a very noisy environment – people collaborating, phones ringing nearly all day, and constant interruptions. When I get home all I want is quiet. For others, settling in to evening routines with the people they love might be just what they need to shift into a happy state of mind.
How to conquer the chaos
1. Eliminate clutter
Clutter is disconcerting. Start small and develop a plan to eliminate clutter – magazines, books, clothing, paperwork, etc and keep on top of it weekly. Establish a place for everything and get everyone on board with putting things away. Get in the habit of cleaning up after dinner – a clean kitchen makes cooking more fun! Don’t even bring the junk mail in the house and make it a habit to delete emails. Unsubscribe is a magic word!
2. Establish routines
Bedtime, bath time, homework, meal time, housework. Pack lunches in the evening. Pay bills on Saturday morning. Routines don’t make for boring people. Routines are comforting and give us a sense of control over our lives.
3. Re-evaluate your schedule
You can’t do it all! Pick those extracurricular activities that are most enjoyable. If you have found yourself overly committed due to an inability to say no, so some reading on boundaries. If you have children, this is a good way to teach them about balance.
4. Institute a “quiet time”
This is my favorite and the one that helps me the most. Create time and space in your day for solitary activities. Maybe it is 15 minutes when you walk in the door. Ask family and friends not to call after a certain time or during a certain time – say dinner hour. Take an evening walk. Get up 30 minutes earlier to allow for a leisurely cup of coffee and time with your journal. Step away from the computer after a certain time at night.
When you walk in the door does your house say Welcome Home?