This writer does not know about anyone else, but before settling in to do unpleasant tasks, like filing a tax return, a cleaning frenzy takes place. Everything has to be put away, floors swept, bathrooms scrubbed, laundry folded. This is just the way life is. Why? Because the clutter of clothes all over the bed, and the pet cover falling off the couch, and Lego scattered all over the house is distracting. Anything to avoid work that requires concentration and constancy.
The men in the family don’t always see the dirt, actually, but for this writer, it becomes the focus of the day instead of, say, work that actually makes money. The guys can literally ignore the mess and be perfectly happy.
As it turns out, this is by no means unique to this household – and science now backs this notion up:
A study conducted by UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families (CELF) backs this theory up, but takes it a step further. After studying the home lives of 32 middle-class, dual-income families with two to three children ages 7 to 12 in Los Angeles, a team of professional archaeologists, anthropologists, and other social scientists found that mothers were most affected by their family’s clutter. Managing the volume of their household’s possessions was actually elevating their levels of stress hormones.
While the study doesn’t explain the reasons mothers are more affected than fathers, I can only suspect that the mental load plays a huge part. When moms ultimately feel responsible for taking care of a neglected chore or fear that an unexpected or last-moment house visit is an open call for judgment, it makes sense that we would feel more burdened by the clutter.
It is true. Managing clutter in order to have a presentable house is not the first priority in families where mom works, and the kids are in several activities. Housework simply is not pressing until company is expected. Neither is thinning the amount of stuff in the house until there is no room for it all. And that can be very stressful for the woman who doesn’t mind cleaning.