No group or demographic has been spared the pain or stress of the pandemic, but millennial mothers (women born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s) have been hit particularly hard for a wide range of reasons, from the unique demands of caring for young children to the specific toll it has taken on their careers.
Messy Kitchens Impact Millennial Moms
And while the vaccine is here, we are months away from it being widely available enough to make meaningful changes in how millennial parents navigate their days. After 12 long months, and with no immediate relief in sight, we’re at a point where mental health experts worry it could become chronic for millennial mothers.
A recent poll of 2,000 millennial moms finds that more than half of respondents (51%) find themselves unable to enjoy a meal if dirty dishes are looming over them. Two-thirds of the moms in the poll can’t even go to sleep unless their kitchen is clean. Yet, the average sink contains five dirty dishes at any one time.
Kitchens have reached ‘peak messy’ during COVID
The study, conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by Dawn Powerwash Dish Spray, finds 72 percent of respondents admit their kitchens have become significantly messier since the start of the pandemic.
69 percent admit that their sink has dirty dishes in it more often than not, which significantly contributes to their overall stress.
Still, many moms are taking steps to avoid having to do dishes. Here are some of the tactics moms have taken to avoid doing the dishes:
- 34% admit to eating with their hands to avoid using silverware
- 35% designate daily water cups for everyone in their household to continually use
- 28% eat right out of the container
Washing Dishes Mindfully is Good for You
While washing a pile of dishes might seem tedious, researchers at Florida State University found washing dishes can be a significant stress reliever—if you do it mindfully. So how does one “wash dishes mindfully”?
You’ve heard of mindfulness. Maybe you’ve even tried practicing mindfulness or read about its role in helping to manage stress. But, if you are unsure how mindfulness contributes to those dirty dishes disappearing, keep reading.
According to the American Psychological Association, mindfulness is:
“…a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment. In this sense, mindfulness is a state and not a trait. While it might be promoted by certain practices or activities, such as meditation, it is not equivalent to or synonymous with them.”
I like this reference from Sharon Salzberg:
“Mindfulness isn’t just about knowing that you’re hearing something, seeing something, or even observing that you’re having a particular feeling. It’s about doing so in a certain way—with balance and equanimity, and without judgment. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention in a way that creates space for insight” (2015).
Ideally mindfulness should be practiced at the same time each day and for a set duration so that it becomes a habit. Commit to this moment – no yelling at the dog or making a mental shopping list. While you wash the dishes becoming aware of how your breath flows in and out, focus on smelling the soap, feeling the water temperature and touching the sudsy dishes.
Although the test group size was small, mindful participants increased their feelings of inspiration by 25 percent and lowered their nervousness levels by 27 percent.
So if you’ve been wanting to work some meditation time into your overloaded day, you just might want to scrub those neglected dishes.