Want less stress and anxiety in your life? Do the dishes, and ask your kids to help. According to Neuroscience News, a cluttered environment can lead to cognitive overload, as the brain struggles to prioritize attention amid distractions. You’ll feel more relaxed if you keep your home neat—but is that even possible if you have young children? Totally. Many of the tips below suggest getting the kids involved: Not only will they lessen your workload but they’ll also be learning good habits they will carry over into adulthood.
1 Reduce clutter
This is a big first step because the fewer things you have, the less you have to worry about. If your daughter has outgrown her winter boots and there’s no designated child to pass them onto, donate them to charity instead of throwing the boots into the back of a closet. Go through every closet and cabinet—any place where there’s stuff—and decide what to do with it (keep, donate, repair).
2 Have a designated place for their stuff
When kids get home from school, they should be able to go to a specific place to dump their backpacks, lunch boxes, shoes and sports equipment. Encourage them to use that place—whether it’s the mudroom, their bedroom, or the entryway. This will become habitual to them soon and they’ll stop throwing everything on the kitchen floor.
3 Tidy up together
Teaching youngsters the importance of cleaning up after themselves has no downside. Each child should be assigned age-appropriate tasks; for example, young children can put away plastic condiment containers to the fridge after dinner while older kids can load the dishwasher or wipe down the table. With sports, band practice, and other after-school activities you may not get everyone together every night but it’s still worth promoting the “everyone has a stake in keeping the house tidy” theme.
4 Make the bed because it makes a difference
Walk into a bedroom that’s messy with rumpled sheets, dirty clothes on the floor, and you may start to feel anxious. If, however, you enter a room where the bed is made and the clothes are put away, you may feel a sense of calm, says Neuroscience News. Teach your kids to make their beds every day and before long, this will be an everyday habit.
5 Deal with messes immediately
Kids make messes, and that’s okay. Cleaning up as soon as they drop their dinner plate on the floor or knock over the bowl of glitter will be less anxiety-provoking than leaving it for later.