The home environment is the crucial background against which parents raise their children. Most parents want to raise their children to be self-assured and successful, but sometimes “household chaos” can impede this goal.
“Household Chaos” is a term that is used to talk about homes that are noisy, crowded and/or have no set routine. Often they are the kinds of homes where children growing up never knowing or having a basis to expect what’s going to happen next.
Research shows that household chaos does not distinguish between low-income and high-income homes. Further, positive life events have no association with household chaos. Chaos does appear to be associated with negative life events however.
Co-parenting wise, families with higher chaos were found to have decreased agreement between parents, decreased closeness, lower support cooperation, and lower divisions of labor. Higher chaos was also associated with poorer emotional availability at bedtime.
What can be done to decrease chaos?
The top four ways to reduce the impact of household chaos are:
1. Figure out what is most important: Think about what is lies at the heart of your “chaos”. Is it clutter? Is it noise? Focus on one aspect at a time and find ways to reduce it.
2. Create a schedule: Sit down with your children and write out a schedule including every family member. These should include realistic times for various events (i.e. eat breakfast, bath-time).
3. Cancel everything you don’t need to do: If you are having trouble juggling things because everyone has five extracurricular activities, cancel some of them. This opens up hours of bonding time within families instead of rushed conversations between “drop off” points.
4. Stop comparing: Plain and simple, do not compare your routine to other families! What works for the neighbors may not work for your family.