Mess in moderation

Mess in moderation

Psychologist and mum Jessica Chivers considers the idea that a messy home is all a matter of opinion…

One of the biggest sources of frustration can be the constant tidy-up mission. But is mess all relative? One person’s chaos in the wake of a houseful of kids can be another person’s sign of a busy, happy home.

Psychologist and journalist Jessica Chivers is also known as ‘the Thinking Woman’s Coach’ for her insightful advice on how we lead our lives. Is a messy house a problem? We asked her what she thought of the whole mess-tidy domestic clash...

Is a tidy home a better example to our kids? Relationship psychologists would probably agree that it depends on the preferences of the family members. If we prefer to live more chaotically than our children for example, we’re going to hit problems if we don’t try and accommodate their need for order. 


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On the other hand, parents at the “tidy-freak” end of the spectrum may be reflecting a desire to bring control to an unpredictable world, but constantly monitoring and clearing away clutter can leave us more exhausted, stressed and frustrated than if we didn’t have such exacting standards. And naturally, that’s not good for the family dynamic.

A relaxed and welcoming house is one that feels lived in and that probably entails mess in moderation. For example, a child who lives in an abnormally neat or disordered home may feel uncomfortable and shy about bringing friends home. As parents we need to ask ourselves what sort of example we want to set our kids and whether our kids are able to flourish in the home we create. If you’re hoping your child will grow up to have a creative, flexible mind then a relaxed environment where they are free to play, test and explore -without fear of a fussy, fastidious parent about to come along and sweep things away – is probably the way to go.

For more about Jessica’s work, why not visit her website,

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