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Tidy Homes and Stress: Carrie Krawiec on Fox 2

That mess-free standard is hard to achieve when work and life obligations takeover leaving toys scattered all over the house, dishes in the sink piling up, kids’ homework scattered about, etc. 

Recent studies show that cluttered, hyper-abundant homes make women more stressed, decreasing self-esteem and increasing the risk for depression. The findings even identified higher values of the stress hormone cortisol in women looking at depictions of untidy households. Interestingly, research also indicates that fathers often disregard mention by spouses of the messes as they are not psychologically affected to the same degree mothers.

Birmingham Maple Clinic therapist, Carrie Krawiec, appeared on Fox 2 News with Deena Centofanti on January 30, 2017 to provide expert tips and explanations on the following:


    • Keeping clutter out of the home can have a positive effect on a person/family:
      • Allows families to spend more time together and save money given that less time is spent searching for possessions, replacing lost or broken items, etc.
      • Allows the individual who does most of the housework to live a more stress-free lifestyle, decreasing risk for depression, heart disease, etc.
      • Teaches each spouse/partner and child the importance of teamwork, collaboration, etc.
    • Mom’s can successfully delegate house chores to the family so the burden isn’t placed all on one individual:
      • Teach and discuss empathy to your partner and children – explain how empathy is the feeling of understanding how someone feels, although it does not mean the partner or child must feel the exact way about the same thing as the other person does – just recognize how it feels to feel that way
      • Explain the importance of actively listening to each family member. Good listening skills set the family up for success. Improved listening decreases the chance for arguments and misunderstandings about what chore as supposed to be done.
      • Set reasonable expectations by breaking household tasks into small steps – divide a room into quadrants and give specific directions/small jobs to be done in that section
      • Begin by giving directions that take a short amount of time to complete (i.e. sorting through junk mail, replacing the full trash basket, etc.)
      • Be specific, positive, polite and firm – tell your children or partner exactly what you want them to do instead of assuming they understand what you want
      • Avoid the negative directions or critical stigmatizing language like, “Stop leaving your backpack here” or “You are so lazy” – Instead try replacing negative comments with action-driven directions
      • Stay away from direction that is vague such as “Clean your room this weekend” as this chore can be expected to be put off
      • Avoid sarcasm, criticism, yelling and the “zap caboose”—ie: “Why can’t you do this all the time.”
      • Family members should also avoid critical language like “You are crazy.” Calling a mom “controlling” or “OCD” is critical and undermines the real stress women experience when looking at untidy spaces.
      • Follow through with encouragement and praise – this will help your spouse/partner or children feel appreciated for the work contributed
      • Moms also need to set reasonable expectations for yourself, and your home. If you are not expecting company 24/7 then your house does not need to look “company ready” all of the time. If Better Homes and Gardens isn’t coming to photograph your space it does not need to look like a page of a catalogue.
    • Increase likelihood that chores will be done in the future by following through with positive encouragement:
      • Have gratitude and find opportunities to thank your family for their cooperation with your clutter needs
      • Partners and children should try to find frequent opportunities to thank their mom, wife or female partner for her contributions
      • Every time you look at your home, find five things you love about it for each one thing that is a stressor
Birmingham Maple Clinic | Michigan Mental Health