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  • Writer's pictureClaire Constable

Do you Suffer from C.H.A.O.S?


C.H.A.O.S is an excellent acronym for 'Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome'; and I love it because it resonates with so many people in some way.

I am blessed to have been invited into thousands of homes whilst working as a Professional Organiser and always feel a little sad when client's feel that they have to apologise for the 'state of their home'.

Do you suffer from chaos in your home?

Do you ever avoid having guests in your home because you're embarrassed by the way it looks?

If you've ever felt this way, you're not alone, and it's a feeling that is more common than you may think.

It also doesn't just affect those with very cluttered homes, or those suffering from hoarding disorder.

Do any of these sound familiar?

▫️ You get embarrassed by the 'mess' in your home.

▫️ You would like to invite people into your home but hesitate because it isn't 'guest ready'.

▫️ You worry about what others think of your home.

▫️ You dread the thought of someone 'just popping in' uninvited and have pretended, or thought of pretending, not to be home.

▫️ You put off hosting friends and family because of the effort it would require to tidy up.

▫️ You feel a sense of jealously or failure when other people always seem to manage to keep their homes clean and tidy all the time.

▫️ When people do come in, you feel the need to continually apologise for the 'mess'.

▫️Instead of enjoying the company and connecting with others in your home, all you can think of are the dirty dishes in the kitchen worktops and piles on the floor.

If you can relate to any of these feelings, you might be suffering from 'Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome', or CHAOS for short.


CHAOS affects people to varying degrees and at different times.

From those who suffer from Hoarding Disorder, where the level of clutter in their homes is so high that they feel such a deep sense of shame and embarrassment they don't want anyone else to see how they have been living.

To those whose home is probably lovely to others, but to them, because it isn't Instagram perfect, they feel a need to put others off guests visiting until it's 'ready' or a day when it's perfectly clean and tidy. In their mind the house is never presentable enough.

Your home doesn't have to rate high on the clutter scale to suffer from CHAOS.

There is often a line between how we are willing to live and what we are willing to reveal to friends and family, which can lead to isolation.


If you find yourself reluctant to invite anyone into your home, here are some tips to help you to open the door with more confidence.

Be Realistic About Clean and Tidy your Home needs to be

First of all, anyone worth having over doesn't need perfection. It doesn't even have to be close to perfect.

The goal is a meaningful connection with others, not to present a 'show home'.

Stop comparing your home to strangers on the internet or the ones in magazines. They are not real life and have been staged to get that 'perfect' image.

Constant CHAOS v Occasional CHAOS

There's a difference. If you have kids, a busy workload, stretched for time and basically living life, there will always be times when the house isn't as tidy as you would like it to be - but, if it's a constant worry, then something needs to change.

My house can be clean and tidy for days, and the day that it's a mess someone always comes round. It's just one of those things.

Create Simple Routines and Systems

Focus on regular quick tidy ups and resets, rather than letting the mess become overwhelming and needing a big effort to get it back under control.

It's about having simple systems in place that allow you to be guest-ready MOST of the time.

We all know the stress and rush to try and tidy when guests are about to come over. A few hours of madness - throwing things into cupboards, shoving stuff into the spare room, cleaning everything in sight and doing our best to make it look like no-one lives in your home.

Why do we tend to go overboard when we have guests round?

It's much less stressful to maintain a certain level of tidiness most of the time.

'A place for everything and everything in its place".

This doesn't need to be an elaborate organisational system.

My favourite system in our home is the kid's baskets. Instead of taking the time to put all their stuff away perfectly throughout the day - anything that they have left out, and I end up picking up throughout the day, gets placed in their baskets. Simple, quick and easily tidied!

All the clutter in the baskets can then be tidied away in their proper places at the end of the day, week or when the basket is full. Nothing gets lost. If it belongs to the kids - it's either in its proper home or in their basket.

Think about and write down the areas that make you feel hesitant to invite people over. Once you have pinpointed those things, you can start to work through them one at a time.

Get Rid of the Clutter

If the level of stuff in your home has reached a point where things are spilling out everywhere, and it feels impossible to tidy - it's time to declutter.

Even spending just 15 minutes per day will make a difference and you'll soon start to see, and feel the results.

If you find yourself not inviting guests over because you simply can't deal with the mess, struggle with decluttering, or just don't know where to start - it may be time to get some help.

There's no shame in asking someone to help to tackle your clutter. It may be a friend, or it could be a Professional Organiser. They don't count as a guest, and they are there to help - not to judge.

Remember Your Why

If you still find yourself stressing over the idea of having people over, remember why you want them there in the first place.

Welcoming someone into your home is an important way to connect and enjoy each others company. Don't let a bit of mess get in the way.

True friends don't care if there are dirty socks in the hallway or a cereal bowl on the dining table at 4.00 pm!

Whenever I start to feel like my home isn't worth of guests, I remind myself I much I enjoy and appreciate being invited into others homes and how the last thing I think about while I am there is what hasn't been tidied away or how much dust is on the surfaces.

Do it for You

Change your mindset.

Instead of focusing on what other people think of your home, think about how you and your family feel in your home when it is tidy with less clutter.

Stop thinking about what other people think and do it for the people that live in your home, not for the ones that are just visiting. Why worry about having it perfectly put together for someone that doesn't even live there!

When our home is tidy and calm - we all feel good - and it's a lot more enjoyable to maintain.

A lot of the time we do things for other people - which is not always a bad thing, but there are times when we should be focusing on our wellbeing, instead of what others think.

If you're house proud (like me), there will probably always be a little feeling of C.H.A.O.S, but by following the tips above, hopefully, you can reduce the stress a little and enjoy welcoming guests into your home.

I think I will always struggle with a bit of C.H.A.O.S. I love our home, and despite trying hard not to, I am always going to worry about what other people think. (I'm also a recovering perfectionist, so not the best combination!), but I have realised that if I let having a perfect house get in the way of having friends over - I'm going to be missing out on a lot!

Do you care what others think of your home?

Can you relate to CHAOS? Tell me about it in the comments below?

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1 Comment

Nov 24, 2020

Thanks! I so needed to hear this. I need to learn that 'good enough is good enough'!

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