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Does your home cause you mess stress?

Back in the Summer of 2019, my mess stress had reached a point where I knew something had to change. I resented all the time I was spending tidying on the weekends. Because nothing ever seemed to change – I’d tidy the children’s rooms but they would be back to ‘mess town’ in what seemed like minutes and I’d feel like I’d wasted my time - time I’d spent away from my family on my precious time off.

This mess stress really affected me. Having two children, a busy job and working from home, I felt like I could never get away from the mess, either because I could see it while I worked or tried to relax with the family, or it was the nagging voice in my head was reminding me of all the piles I needed to sort. Because I had a lot of piles! I sometimes felt better if I merged several piles into one mega pile, but the problem was just getting bigger.

It may not affect you in an obvious way like it did for me. It may be just a niggle, or something you just can’t put your finger on, but it stops you being able to fully relax at home – the place that should be our haven. My recent Kantar survey* found that these feelings I was having back then are not at all uncommon. In fact, 82% of us have experienced ‘mess stress’ at some point in our lives, going up to 98% for parents of young children.

Back to that Summer: I worked out how to solve my mess stress by creating the ‘Serenely Sorted System’ – initially for myself and my own home. I worked out that I could apply my corporate systems and process improvement skills to the home and created a realistic system that could be installed at home that worked alongside a behaviour and mindset change. I was able to save 2-3 hours every week tidying and eliminate my mess stress. But the best part? The system is accessible even to the children - building a system that even they could follow meant they could tidy their rooms to 80% of what was needed, giving me a 100% better life!

Here are five simple tips from the Serenely Sorted System that will enable you to start creating more serenity in your home and say goodbye to that nagging voice in your head – for the long term.

1. Be aware of how behaviour creates the ‘daily debris’

Think about when you come in, what do you do with your bag and coat? Do you just plonk it down on a chair? What about when the children come home? What do they do with their shoes and school bag? Leave it on the floor? These are natural behaviours we and our families have built up through habit. The first step to serenity is simply becoming aware of our mess making habits to get ready for change.

2. Create ‘End Homes’ to end your mess stress

With one of those mess makers in mind, create your first ‘End Home’. This is a place where that thing lives. For example, you may have an area for footwear near the door, but is there a basket designated for the children’s shoes? Having a specific end home for them will ensure they know where to put them when they get home. Another example is the hairbrush - it may not have a designated end home and often therefore end up in a general pile. Once we have ‘end homes’, we are able to put things away easily and guide our children to do the same.

3. Use it but don’t lose it

Once you start creating End Homes, and mindfully put your stuff in them when you come in, or at the end of the day, you will be able to find things more easily and quickly. Because you know where everything goes you don’t lose things and spend your precious time looking for them. How many minutes have you wasted in the past few months looking for something at home? Or had the panic in the morning when your children are going out the door and can’t find their shoes? Now you can – they are there in their end home!

4. Get the whole family involved

The beauty of this system is its simplicity. Not only is the bar set to a level that’s realistic (think: an end home for lego rather than lego categorised into colours), it’s at a level that the whole family can achieve. If you set up too many ‘end homes’ for children, they won’t be able to put things away without you getting involved or doing it for them, but give them five or six and they can definitely do it to that crucial 80%. Once you have the ‘end homes’ allocated, the crucial part can happen: mindfully putting those things back in their ‘end homess as a family - the ‘back to tidy’ moment every day, usually around dinner time. It will get quicker and quicker as your mind rewires itself to almost automatically put things away.

5. Habits to make your home a haven again

What we all need is that ‘Ahhhh’ moment at the end of the day. When you are ‘back to tidy’, you can relax without being triggered by work stuff or kids' mess. For the kids too - having order and independence in their own rooms provides them with the boundaries and security they need. Once we have created end homes and mindfully use them every day to get ‘back to tidy’ – we can achieve this peace every day and – to a point where it hardly feels like tidying anymore.

* Nationally representative survey conducted by Kantar on behalf of Serenely Sorted (250 respondents, March 2021)


About the author

Diana Spellman is the Realistic Home Organisation Expert and Founder of Serenely Sorted. This realistic home organization approach combines efficiency with behaviour and mindset change and is achievable and sustainable for anyone – including the kids! Diana works with busy people in-person, virtually and via her online course to help them save time, ditch the drudgery and get more peace in their homes – for the long term!

Find out more at or book a discovery call to find out the best way for you to get started with the system. You can also follow me on Instagram for regular tips to support your Serenely Sorted journey!

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