Living with lockdown family mess can affect an individual’s mental health

Lockdown clutter is causing mental stress among families with pantries overflowing due to the surge in bulk grocery shopping. A leading home organisation expert says the huge increase in people stockpiling their groceries has exacerbated domestic storage challenges.

“It is what I call the pandemic pantry. Nothing fits, no-one knows where anything is and it’s jammed with boxes of coloured packaging, with no sense of order. The pantry itself needs a detox,” says Dave Strutton from Howard Storage World, Mile End, Adelaide.

Kitchens have become chaotic with pantries overflowing due to bulk purchases, children rummaging the pantry, grazing, and benches cluttered with appliances constantly in use.

But the problem of storage is not just confined to pantries and kitchens.

Howard Storage World’s pandemic pantry issues

Mr Strutton says the pandemic has forced people to turn existing areas into new spaces like study nooks and offices and it’s left entire households bursting at the seams.

“With entire families working and studying from home, it’s brought attention to high use areas in the house and the desperate need to maintain order in these spaces,” said Mr Strutton.

“Homes have become more important than ever and creating the best environment possible for your personal physical health and mental wellbeing is very crucial,” he said.

A Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed organising the home was a strategy employed by many to manage their mental health.

“What we humanly can’t control is the unpredictability of the pandemic, but what we can control is order around the home,” said Dave Strutton on managing household space.

Easy to access pantry makes life easier

In most homes the pantry is undersized for our needs.

The key to good pantry organisation is to keep stock visible and accessible. Use bins and baskets, store dry goods in clear containers and invest in a spice rack.

A Lazy Susan is a game changer as it can make things more accessible, perfect for vinegars, oils and salt and pepper. For those dealing with remote learning, a dedicated, easy to reach space for healthy snacks will encourage children to make better food choices.

High traffic areas

The kitchen is the most important area of the home when it comes to organisation.

From unloading groceries to food preparation, cooking, dining and clean-up, household administration, homework and play, the kitchen is the ‘Central Business District’ of the home.

Keeping kitchen work spaces clear of mess and clutter creates a calm environment and will have a flow on effect to the rest of your home, helping your organisation and productivity.

Make use of wall space

Shelving helps utilise vertical space and facilitates organising children’s rooms and/or home office, making it easy to keep utensils and groceries away in a safe way after their use.

There is nothing that adds to anxiety more than cluttered floors and surfaces. Shelving can further still facilitate advancing and enhancing beauty of the room’s design.

Video meetings are now common and a tidy backdrop is preferable to colleagues seeing a sea of clutter in the background of papers, books, technology, controls and power cords.

Make your home office and study nook mobile

Many people have one room serving multiple functions. Laptops, printers, computers, books, headsets and phones are also being increasingly spread across multiple work spaces.

Separating work and home life can be tricky and at the weekend many of these items should be tucked away out of sight. Trolleys with drawers can be wheeled away, whilst smaller clutter can be neatly organised and stored in storage drawers, boxes and divided organisers.

“Everyone needs space to eat, work and relax so being organised and finding a spot for all your belongings will keep your space feeling like your home and not your office or classroom.

Mr Strutton says storage is always a big challenge in homes and it often comes as an afterthought, but the prolonged chaos of the pandemic has taught us the value of space.

“We need to reorganise our homes so we can find some calm and order, separating the weekdays from the weekend. I think what the pandemic has taught us is being organised is good for our sense of wellbeing and emotional health and adds to harmony in the home.”

“Getting organised gives a sense of accomplishment and even boosts self confidence.”