Can clutter actually cause a person to have anxiety and be overwhelmed? This is probably a question you've been asking yourself for years if you're a mom and now science is actually backing up our life long claims. Yup, it's true - science says that clutter makes mom more anxious than dads, and they are pretty much confirming everything we have always known.
As busy moms, it seems like we're just not able to relax unless everything is in its place. The kids get into everything, dust builds up so quickly and when everything is out of order it tends to cause stress and anxiety to build until it's all put back. Once that happens, we can breathe a sigh of relief and move on with our day. Taking things one step further, it has always been easy to point out that dads have a completely different outlook on clutter and that it doesn't bother them as much as it does moms. They can relax around clutter, we can't - it's as simple as that.
A recent study that was done by UCLA's Center on Everyday Lives of Families (CELF) is backing our theory up. Praise! They studied the home lives of 32 middle-class, dual-income families with two to three children ages 7 to 12 in Los Angeles. After dissecting what was happening in the homes, a team of professional archaeologists, anthropologists, and other social scientists found that mothers were the ones most affected by their family's clutter. It all boiled down to the simple fact that managing the volume of their household's possessions was actually elevating their levels of stress hormones.
Co-author Elinor Ochs, a UCLA anthropologist and director of CELF shared that, "this is the very first study to step inside 21st-century family homes to discover the material surroundings and vast number of possessions that organize and give meaning to the everyday lives of middle-class parents and children."
Because it is the first study of it's kind, there is obviously a lot more work to be done, but they did have some reasons for why moms were feeling this way and why there was so much clutter to begin with. The study noted that the rise of big-box stores, such as Costco and Sam's Club, has increased the tendency to overbuy food and cleaning supplies, families hardly using their yards and garage for storage, and the relying on the use of convenience foods and fragmented dinners where families are eating in different places around the home.
Here's to stress-free everything in order homes... someday.