#617 Making Your House Work For You

#617 Making Your House Work For You

617 – Making Your House Work For You

Kathi sits down with Tenneil Register to explore practical ways to make your home work for you, not the other way around. In this episode, they discuss: 

  • Designing spaces around your natural habits and routines
  • Examples of functional home solutions (such as paperwork organization)
  • Why entryway, kitchen, and bedroom spaces are key areas in your home
  • The power of taking photos to evaluate your spaces with fresh eyes

Kathi and Tenneil will be sharing their 3 challenges spaces (Entry, Eat, Rest) pictures! Take the challenge and you can post your pics over at Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy group. We have the most amazing corner of friends who cheer each other on!

Sign up here to be notified when the next episode is released, or here to receive Kathi’s Clutter Free Kit!

Kathi’s shoes that guests love and it keeps her home clean at the same time.

Here’s a peek at Kathi’s kitchen now — head over to Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy group to find out what changes she would like to make (to love and use the space even more!)


The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home

Homesteading [hohm-sted-ing]
1. an act or instance of establishing a homestead.
2. the act of loving where you live so much that you actively ignore the fact that your house is trying to kill you on a regular basis.

For Kathi Lipp and her husband, Roger, buying a house in one of the most remote parts of Northern California was never part of the plan; many of life’s biggest, most rewarding adventures rarely are.

Kathi shares the hard-won wisdom she’s gained on her homestead journey to help you accomplish more at home, gain fresh perspective, and give yourself grace in the process. Here’s a handful of the lessons Kathi shares:

  • Prepare before the need arises
  • Everything is always in process, including us
  • Your best household solution is time and patience
  • You don’t have to do everything the hard way
  • Be open to new and better ways of doing things
  • A lot of small changes make a huge difference.
    Highly practical, humorous, and inspirational, The Accidental Homesteader will encourage you to live with more peace, joy, and contentment.

Order your copy of The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home here.

Favorite Links:

A House That Cleans Itself

Sign up here for Kathi’s newsletter or here to receive her Clutter Free Basics Kit!

Clutter Free Resources:

What key areas in your house would you like to focus on? Share your answer in the comments.

Let’s stay connected

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a note in the comment section below.
  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

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Meet Our Guest 


Tenneil Register

Tenneil Register can be found creating, repurposing, decorating, gardening and welcoming guests to their reclaimed barn storefront. She and her husband, Cowboy, established rural roots for their blended family of 7 in their DIY ranch home in Iowa. Connect with her on Instagram for practical ideas to reclaim your home or visit R7Reclaimed.com.


Tonya Kubo Picture

Kathi (00:00)
Well, hey friends, welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where our goal is to help you take small, doable steps to live every day with less clutter and more life. And guys, one of our newer members of our team, but she’s got all the style, my friends. And she is, I love how she’s stylish and practical at the same time. You guys, it’s Tenille Register. Tenille, welcome back to the podcast.

Tenneil (00:27)
Thank you, I’m so happy to be here. And I love that you say stylish and practical because that is my goal. Yes, yeah, you nailed it.

Kathi (00:34)
That’s your intersection, huh? That makes me super happy, because that’s really, when we have these discussions, that’s really what comes through. And that’s what we’re gonna talk about today, because I think it’s so interesting. Something you said, and I don’t know if I’m quoting you correctly, you can always say, no, Kathy, that’s not what I said. Let me tell you the right way to say it. But we just had the Abundant Home Conference.

which is a conference about, it’s for our clutter-free community, but it is, we did a lot of like clutter-free adjacent things. So we had Tanya talking about hoarding and we had Roger talking about beginning gardening and we had you talking about design in your home and function. And you said, I don’t work for my, this is what I remember, but again, please correct me.

I don’t work for my house, my house works for me. Did I just get the spirit of what you said or is that actually what you said?

Tenneil (01:42)
I don’t know for sure. I think, I bet it’s what I said. Here’s what I can tell you about the heart of that, Kathy, is I can vividly remember, I mean, I was probably 20 years old, I bet. I’ve always been one to buy houses, flip them, fix them up. Homes are important to me. And I remember standing in line at the Christian bookstore and they have $5 books that you can add onto your purchase. And one of these books is called A House That Cleans Itself.

Kathi (01:43)
Okay! Okay.

Okay, please.


Oh, I remember that! Yes, it was by Harvest House, yes!

Tenneil (02:15)
And I remember laughing and handing it to the cashier and saying, I’ll take a house that cleans itself for $5, sure. And that is what really framed from my very earliest days when I was really too young to even own a home for goodness sake, like my mindset about my house that I wanted it to work for me. So.

Kathi (02:22)
Yes, yes



Tenneil (02:41)
Yeah, that’s where the spirit of it comes from.

Kathi (02:42)
Okay, so here’s a question. Do you remember something that you started doing differently because of that book?

Tenneil (02:50)
So the main takeaway from that book was I started taking snapshots of a space and thinking about what I really was using that space for.

Kathi (03:01)
Oh, interesting. Wow, and that book was before digital, I mean, at least camera phones, I would think.

Tenneil (03:09)
It was 100% like I had to develop the film from it. Okay. Right.

Kathi (03:13)
Oh my gosh, that’s a commitment, right? You had to go to the Walgreens and get those photos developed. That’s impressive. Okay, so what did you learn from taking pictures inside your house? This is fascinating to me.

Tenneil (03:21)

Yeah, so you see your habits, right? Because this isn’t, I clean the room and then I take a picture of it. This is, you know, after three long work days, I take a picture of the entryway or I take a picture of the kitchen countertop. That’s when you start to discover, I opened the mail next to the kitchen sink, right? I leave my coffee cup near the front door regularly, right?

Kathi (03:34)


Ah, okay.

Right, right.

Tenneil (03:57)
where it might make more sense to have the mail by the front door and the coffee by the kitchen sink. But whatever your habit is, is your habit. And rather than trying to retrain yourself, you rework your space.

Kathi (04:02)


Okay, so this is really interesting to me because you talk a lot about this. You’re not trying to change the people in your house. You’re trying to change the environment.

Tenneil (04:22)
Yes, like I think it’s an act of love where we accept the behaviors of ourself and those around us, and we find solutions that work for our natural behaviors.

Kathi (04:29)

Okay, so tell me some things where you’ve seen that conflict between personal habits and home organization and what did you do because also we’re not saying kids leave your stuff everywhere. I don’t care if you eat, you know, in your bedroom and leave the dishes. I mean, that’s not what we’re saying, right? If that’s what we’re saying, I have to, we have to end the conversation now.

Tenneil (05:01)
Absolutely, it’s not what we’re saying. And in case my youngest who’s still at home is listening, it will never be okay for you to leave your empty dishes next to the couch. That’s a hot button. However, on the issue of snacks, one of the difficulties is our family room is on the lower level, our kitchen is on the upper level, the main level. And then you have this parade of snacks, right? Up and down, up and down. So…

Kathi (05:09)
Good good to know okay, okay?


Okay. Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Right. Mm-hmm.

Tenneil (05:30)
when we had the time, the energy, the budget, we put in a snack bar just off of the family room.

Kathi (05:37)
Ah, so tell me about this snack bar. I’m gonna need a picture of this too.

Tenneil (05:43)
Okay, so it’s just got a kitchen sink and a microwave and in clear containers we have the cereal bars, the pop tarts, the popcorn, the things that you eat snacky that kind of make a mess, that don’t require like kitchen prep, and then it’s there for the easy taking and because they’re in clear containers I can kind of restock them and it’s on open shelving.

Kathi (05:47)




Tenneil (06:09)
So it helps me with the grocery shopping part of it and it helps them with, I’m not like getting out all of these boxes of things. I just select my snack. There’s a garbage can nearby. And it was almost like a trade-off. If I make it easy for you to get snacks, will you make it easy to clean up your snacks?

Kathi (06:17)

Right. You know, we did something very similar because we have retreats here in our house and Roger didn’t always want to be, you know, going down at 530 in the morning, you know, when women were downstairs and stuff like that. So up in our bedroom, actually in my office, we’ve put a coffee maker, some snacks and a microwave. And we don’t have a sink really, but we’re not doing heavy prep up here and

Tenneil (06:49)

Kathi (06:54)
It is, and oh, and the other thing, the most important thing that we put up here was a little fridge. And so one, it has helped us drink more water because we’ve got cold water all the time. And it’s made such a difference in our lives to be drinking all of this water all the time. But I also have like my crystal light packets up here. And so it’s just made it so, yeah, there are less dishes coming upstairs. There’s a less.

Tenneil (07:01)

Kathi (07:22)
There’s less everything. Because we think it’s just the kids, but then all the kids move out and you’re like, oh, it wasn’t just the kids. Darn.

Tenneil (07:29)
That’s my third coffee cup next to the nightstand.

Kathi (07:32)
Yes, it’s so true, right? Okay, so you and I have both made these adjustments in our house that say, okay, we recognize the behavior. We are not the people on TV who just eat at the kitchen table. In our house, we do very little eating at the kitchen table. I’m not gonna lie. Because that’s not what we wanna do, and we’re adults. We get to do what we want.

So what are some other adjustments that you have made that have made a big difference?

Tenneil (08:04)
think a lot of people are going to relate to this. We have an island and our entire life happens at the island. That’s where people eat, that’s where we fix food, that’s where we come and go and drop our keys and our sunglasses, and it’s also where all of the paperwork lands. So we have an office but we were never going to carry this paperwork from the island back to the office, file it, and then come back and finish our conversation. That wasn’t going to happen.

Kathi (08:10)
Mm-hmm. Yes. Right. Yeah.

It’s so true, right?




Tenneil (08:33)
And so a wall just adjacent to the island, we put clipboards on a nail for each person. And then that makes it very simple. Whatever the paper, whichever person the paperwork coordinates with, and we have one for pets too, I can just slap that paper on the clipboard.

Kathi (08:40)
Mm. Yeah.

Mm-hmm. Oh, nice. Oh, that’s really interesting. Okay, we wanna hear more of these ideas and of course we’re gonna need pictures. We’re gonna have to take a quick break and then we’re gonna come right back and we’re gonna get all the scoop from Tenille Register. We’ll be right back. Okay, friends, we are back with Tenille Register and we’re talking about how do you make your house work for you instead of you working for your house? I’m gonna ping pong back. I’m gonna tell you something that

I have done and that is I have invested in a really good floor mats. Like the door mats, like outside, we have door mats outside our house and inside our house in all the main doors. So you have ample room to get your shoes cleared off and where we live between the dirt, the garden,

The chickens you really want to have those Dormats there and the other thing we’ve done is we have indoor outdoor shoes by every exit and that has made a huge difference in our house and the other thing we’ve done which I will be happy to post a picture about is we have a rack of Probably I don’t know maybe 15 different pairs of slippers

in different sizes that get washed every time somebody wears them. But it keeps our floors so much cleaner. And people love these slippers, by the way. They they just adore them. And it’s really, really helped. So I will be sure to share a picture of that as well. Tenneil, what’s another example of you don’t work for your house. Your house works for you.

Tenneil (10:42)
So another example would be how we use our personal spaces. So in each bedroom, thinking about how do we get alone? This is a lot of people in a house. And so what are some things that you need, like your reading zone or your art zone if you’re into art or your gaming station? And I feel like when we invest in

Kathi (10:49)

Mm-hmm. Yes, yes.


Tenneil (11:12)
the person’s going to enjoy that personal space, then we free up more of our common space.

Kathi (11:15)

Mmm, okay, okay. Yes, yes. So give me an example of something you’ve done.

Tenneil (11:28)
Okay, so an example would be a daughter who is really into music. And we have a piano and so all of that music stuff could end up in this music space. But I didn’t want all that stuff there, right? So what do you do? You get a music stand for the bedroom. You put a shelf on the wall for the instruments.

Kathi (11:37)



Tenneil (11:55)
We have great hooks for guitar hangers for the guitars in the house. So that all of these things that could land on the floor that are super important to someone, right? You’re saying like, I love that you love music and I love that you want these instruments so much that here’s the space where you can hang it and use it and love it.

Kathi (11:58)

Right, right.

Yes, I think that’s really important too, because what you’re doing is you’re saying, I’m committing this space to you because I honor your passion and what you do. I have learned not to honor the passion until I see that it’s a long-lasting passion because I can’t tell you the number of things we invested in because it was good for the kids and ended up on, you know, Facebook free groups.

Tenneil (12:32)

Kathi (12:44)
And so, yes, but I think you’re absolutely right. We did kind of the opposite thing when we first blended our family in that we took half our living room and put an L-shaped desk there, and we got each of the kids a computer. Because we wanted them to be using their computer in a common space. And this was before all the smartphones and things like that.

But everybody got their own chair. So we invested well and heavily. So it wasn’t happening like on the couch or in the dining room or something like that. They all had this space. And we could see what they were doing and it was good for them, yes.

Tenneil (13:23)

I love the intentionality of both. What do we want for common space activities? What do we want for personal space activities?

Kathi (13:29)

Yes, it looked like we were running a call center. I’m not going to lie where everybody’s on their headphones and at their monitors. But, you know, at the time, that’s what we wanted to have for our family. So if somebody is struggling with no, I’m a slave to my home. That’s how I feel. I feel like I work from my home all the time. Where would you ask them to start investigating what they could change?

Tenneil (14:00)
So I would start with the pictures of where you walk into the house, a picture of wherever it is you eat, and a picture of wherever it is you try to rest.

Kathi (14:03)

So entryway, rest, and eat. Okay, why would you start in those places?

Tenneil (14:15)

Because I think those are the things we spend the most time doing at home. And they’re all transitional.

Kathi (14:24)

What do you mean by transitional?

Tenneil (14:29)
At the entryway, we’re in and out, out and in and out, and we’re taking things with us. Where we eat, that’s something we do multiple times a day that requires things to go with it.

Kathi (14:35)

Yeah. Got it, okay.

Tenneil (14:44)
And then similar with the personal space, you’re getting ready routine. And so it’s really about recognizing what are the routines that I want to support from this space because we’re really not talking about stuff, we’re talking about living. And this.

Kathi (14:54)

Yeah, it’s so true. And recognizing, I think it’s so important, recognizing change in your house or change in yourself. Like, this is the first time in my life I’ve had long hair and that comes with a lot of ties and bands and scrunch, all the things and more hair product than I’ve ever used in my entire life. And for the longest time, I’m like, why is this bathroom no longer working for me?

Well, because things have changed. I now have long, I never had hair accoutrement before. I just never did. But now I do. And it’s like, okay, recognize that and set it up so that it’s actually easy to use. It’s so true, it’s so true. And to say, you know, but also to recognize when I’m over something.

Tenneil (15:42)
Right? You need a little dish for all those hair bands and clippies, don’t you?

Kathi (15:52)
Like, I’ll just be honest with you, right now guys, I am not cooking sourdough bread, I’m not baking it. There’s just not room in my life at the moment. Let me just put it this way, I haven’t made it a priority. So I’m not spending a lot of time doing that. So it’s okay for me to put all that stuff away. I don’t need it out. I can reevaluate my space and say, you know, we don’t eat like this anymore. Or we don’t eat like this now. That may be even a better phrase.

you know, if you have a whole bunch of like, cake mix, and you’re like, well, we just found that I’m gluten free, get rid of it, you know, give it to somebody who’s actually going to use it, not save it for the time where you’re magically ungluten free, you know, or whatever, what is the transition you need to recognize in your

Tenneil (16:41)
Yeah, and I think that’s where the like assessment comes in, right? Whether you’re visually taking a picture with your eyes, whether you’re journaling about the space, or you’re taking an actual photo, it’s sort of this assessment of how am I living in this space and what would I like to do differently.

Kathi (16:44)
Mm-hmm. Yeah.


Yeah, I love the assessment because I think we can become clutter blind sometimes. I know I can. To walking into a space and it’s like, I’m not really looking at it. You know, it looks okay. But, and I’m not saying to be harsh or judgmental. But, you know, I’m just noticing like right now, I’ve got a giant extension cord in my office. I’m thinking, how long has that been there? What?

What did I use that for? You know, and it’s like, okay, well, I probably used it for when I was filming something, but that could go away now. And taking a picture would be like, oh yeah, I could get rid of that, and it would make it feel better when I entered the space. So I love the idea of taking those three pictures. I think I’m gonna go do that. I’m a little scared to post them though, I’m not gonna lie. Okay. Okay, I’m gonna post the three picture. Yeah, okay.

Tenneil (17:49)
Oh, we want to see them.

Cause wouldn’t that be such a fun challenge, Kathy? If you post a picture of the space and you list five things you can get rid of, donate, put away, whatever, right? Like such a five minute exercise.

Kathi (17:58)


Okay. Post the entryway, where you eat, and where you get ready or where you sleep. Okay.

Tenneil (18:15)
Yeah, like your personal space, you know, some people that’s in their bedroom, some people that’s in their bathroom.

Kathi (18:21)
Okay, okay, I’m gonna do it Okay, two of those three spaces don’t look too bad right now We won’t talk about the other one. Okay. Yay Okay, here’s the problem guys I know it we are recording this in the middle of March and I’ve got I still have my nativity up because I really like It and it’s just weird that in the middle of March. I still But you know what it’s fine, it’s fine. It’s

Tenneil (18:49)
You love Jesus a lot, Kathy.

Kathi (18:51)
I love Jesus a lot. I love baby Jesus even more. Oh, Tenille, this has been such a great conversation. Thank you so much for hanging out with me today.

Tenneil (19:02)
Oh, thanks for having me and enjoy assessing your spaces.

Kathi (19:07)
Yeah, are you gonna take the three pictures as well? I’ve just given you more, you know, I’m like, oh this podcast will just take 20 minutes And now I’ve given you homework. Don’t you love it?

Tenneil (19:10)

100% I’m going to go take pictures of those spaces because I know they are all in disarray right now.

Kathi (19:23)
Okay friends, we’re gonna challenge you to go take those three pictures because I think it’s gonna help you really evaluate What you want to change and what you want to do differently? Okay, you’ve been listening to clutter free Academy I’m Kathy lip now go create the clutter free space you know Okay friends, you’ve been listening to clutter free Academy. I’m Kathy lip now go create the clutter free life. You’ve always wanted to live


#615 Breaking Free from Decorating “Rules”: Creating a Home You Love Part 2

#615 Breaking Free from Decorating “Rules”: Creating a Home You Love Part 2

615 – Breaking Free from Decorating “Rules”: Creating a Home You Love Part 2

Are you struggling with judgmental voices from your past that insist your home décor must be showroom perfect?

Shun the shamers in your head and learn how to break free of their nitpicky demands!

Join Kathi and bestselling author Myquillyn Smith, also known as “The Nester,” as they continue their discussion about Myquillyn’s new book, “House Rules: How to Decorate for Every Home, Style, and Budget.” They’ll delve into:

  • Why you don’t have to fill every empty space
  • Using the concepts of “house hushing” and “one sane space” to quiet your quarters
  • Getting past perfectionism to love your space your way

As Kathi says in today’s episode, “if you love your house enough, it doesn’t matter what other people think.” Tune in now to learn how to make this your motto!

Order a copy of Myquillyn Smith’s newest book House Rules here

Sign up here to be notified when the next episode is released.

Would you like to receive Kathi’s Clutter Free Kit in your inbox? Sign up here.

The Clutter-Free Home: Making Room for Your Life

When it comes to your home, peace is possible…

Longing for a place of peace from which you can love others well? The Clutter-Free Home is your room-by-room guide to decluttering, reclaiming, and celebrating every space of your home.

Let author Kathi Lipp (who once lived a life buried in clutter) walk you through each room of your house to create organizational zones that are not only functional and practical but create places of peace that reflect your personality. Kathi will help you tackle the four-step process of dedicate, decide, declutter and “do-your-thing” to reveal the home you’ve always dreamed of, and then transform it into a haven that reflects who you truly are meant to be.

If you’re also feeling overwhelmed by the care and upkeep of all the stuff under your feet or sense that your home is running you, instead of the other way around, come discover how to create a space that doesn’t have to be showroom perfect to be perfect for you and the people you love.

Order your copy here!

Favorite Links:

Myquillyn Smith’s website TheNester.com.

Myquillyn Smith on Instagram @thenester

Order Myquillyn’s newest book HOUSE RULES: How to Decorate for Every Home, Style, and Budget here

Take Myquillyn’s decorating quiz here

Where is your “one sane space?” Share your answer in the comments.

Let’s stay connected

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a note in the comment section below.
  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.

Meet Our Guest 

Myquillyn Smith

MYQUILLYN SMITH, also known as “The Nester,” is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Welcome Home and Cozy Minimalist Home. For the past 17 years, she’s been encouraging women to embrace their space—imperfections and all—and make it their own. Her previous homes have been featured in Better Homes & Gardens, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Cottages & Bungalows. She recently purchased and redecorated a1905 Queen Anne Victorian home in Morganton, North Carolina, the inspiration for her new book House Rules. She’s never met a home she didn’t love.

Find her online at TheNester.com and on Instagram @thenester.


Kathi (00:00.174)

Well, hey friends, welcome to Clutter-Free Academy, where our goal is to help you take small doable steps to live every day with less clutter and more life. And guys, I just, yeah, if you heard last week, you know I’m gushing, I’m not gonna gush all this time, but it’s Myquillyn Smith. The book is House Rules. You guys, she is my favorite decorating guru.

And I know you shouldn’t have gurus. You shouldn’t because you gotta create your own style. But she has helped me figure out who I am and how to live in my house. And I want her to do the same for you. Plus, you guys, she gets people who maybe wanna keep too many things in their house. She is not, she’s not judgmental. She understands our people. Myquillyn welcome back to the podcast.

Myquillyn (00:57.51)

I’m so glad to be here. You are my people. I love it.

Kathi (01:01.722)

Yes, yes, we need to we have to have a lot of crossover in our communities. I’m 100% And guys if you haven’t listened to last week go back and listen to that that’ll give you a lot of context for this week But I uh, I may love this book as much as I loved your first book Again, it’s House Rules: How to Decorate for Every Home, Style, and Budget And the reason that I love your book so much is because well

This is called House Rules. You don’t have a lot of rules or you teach us how to break the rules that maybe, I don’t know if other people feel like this, that I’ve had some very judgmental voices, house decorating voices in my head from the past and maybe kind of kept myself a little trapped. Have you ever worked with anybody like that?

Myquillyn (01:55.125)

Yeah, I mean, I have myself, I have experienced that as well, thinking I am going to get shamed or I’m gonna get told off or someone comes in my house and says, we need to get those drapes hemmed and when are we going to do this, that and the other to finish the house? That’s the kind of, yeah, I’ve experienced that myself and had to pull up my big girl pants and say, this is it, this is what I’m choosing to do so that I can

Kathi (01:57.62)


Myquillyn (02:24.897)

have the rest of my life be full and look the way I want it to look.

Kathi (02:29.822)

You know, I remember when we sold our last house, it was, I loved it, I loved it so much. But the one thing my husband and I just said, okay, you know what, it’s just not as important to us as it is to other people. And you guys are gonna, everybody’s gonna scream when they hear this. We had popcorn ceilings. And in California, they’re very expensive to get rid of. And it’s like

we had to make choices and people would come in and say, and what are we gonna do about those popcorn ceilings? I’m like, if that’s the first thing you notice in my beautiful home, then, you know, my decorating style is not for you. It just isn’t. And so I think it’s so interesting what some people fixate on when they’re in other people’s homes. And we think, oh, nobody’s gonna notice. And it’s just weird that some people do, isn’t it? That what…

What are we going to do about those drapes on the floor? I mean, we’re going to enjoy them and love them and see that they pool beautifully. Ha ha.

Myquillyn (03:34.362)

Feel free to do something with your own money and your time.

Kathi (03:40.198)

Yes, you have volunteered. Well, okay. So I think that if you love your house enough, it doesn’t matter what other people think. It really, really doesn’t. But you have to love it. You have to say, this is what I’m doing to make my house as loving and lovely as possible. I want to dig into your rules here, because we’ve already done seven and five, you can’t ruin something you already hate and resourcefulness is the ultimate resource. But let’s talk about

Okay, this is for my cluttery girls. Rule 11, luxury isn’t having more, it’s needing less. Talk to, okay, I’m not gonna say a word, just talk to us.

Myquillyn (04:21.693)

Okay, I was reluctant to learn this because all of my life I feel like luxury is having everything at your fingertips, no matter what you could possibly need. That is the very definition of luxury. So we moved into this house and it’s a 1905 Queen Anne Victorian. And I’m pointing out the master bedroom is like the largest master bedroom we’ve ever had. We’ve never had a big bedroom.

And when we moved here, we had a bed and like my nightstands were like this big because our last house, the room was this big. So they’re like, pip squeak. I mean, we had nothing. So our bed was in there. I purchased a little sofa from the previous owner. So I had a little sofa at the end of the bed. I ended up buying a pair of nightstands and I had a couple lamps. I put up drapes. There were shutters on the window.

And one day I walked up to the room, I had painted it a little darker, beautiful muddy blue, one of my personal neutrals. And I walked up to the room and it just felt just right. I couldn’t believe it because there was no gallery wall. There was no like 300 beautiful pillows. There wasn’t three layers of rugs. There wasn’t like layers of throws. It was like so simple. There was no vignette on both of the.

Like I nothing it was so quiet and I felt like rich I felt like I was staying in a high end hotel. It was like the lack of chaos and excess was luxurious. And I have heard that my whole life. But to experience it. I was like, Oh, I get that now I get like the almost the privilege of not having to fill up my space with all of this.

Kathi (05:48.612)


Kathi (06:06.135)


Kathi (06:10.752)


Myquillyn (06:11.677)

just in case stuff was extremely peaceful and serene and welcoming and I love beautiful things I still have you know stuff in my home but that is one space in my house that I probably will continue to keep really sparse and it feels great.

Kathi (06:21.421)


Kathi (06:32.234)

Okay, well, the conviction is here. I have, our bedroom is big. It’s the biggest bedroom we’ve ever owned. And I love our bed. I’ve got a Suzani print couch that is just, it’s everything I love. And then I have the gray chair. And the gray chair collects all the things and has no business being in there. But I had room.

And my cluttery brain says, but you have room for it. But it brings me no joy. Why do I still have it? Why did I need you to come on a podcast for me to say, okay, it’s time to get rid of it?

Myquillyn (07:11.349)

Because our default is that empty space is like incorrect and needs to be filled. Empty space is waiting to be, it’s unfinished, which is not true. We need margin in our lives, in our decor, in our schedule, in so many things, but like I’ve learned to, sometimes I can’t get it through my brain. Like actually I would enjoy having less in my family room. So I do a little practice, I call it house hushing, where I just tell myself, you know what?

Kathi (07:37.944)


Myquillyn (07:39.605)

we’re gonna give it 24 hours. I’m gonna just take all my little cute tchotchkes and smalls and my clocks and my pillows and my plants. And I’m gonna take everything extraneous out, just have the furniture, and I just put it in another room like crazy in the dining room on the table for 24 hours. And it’s like zen and relaxing and without fail every time I choose out of my own free will.

Kathi (07:44.857)


Myquillyn (08:04.981)

to not bring as much in. No one has to, I don’t have to like pick up everything and ask if I love it or if it brings me joy. I don’t have to like clear and make decision fatigue. I just experience the results first of like a quieted simple space. And then I can choose if I want to get rid of something. It’s like, to me, it’s backwards decluttering and it works.

Kathi (08:10.944)


Kathi (08:25.59)

Yes. It’s the creep. It’s the creep of life. Like, I love this little thing. I’m going to put it here. I love this little thing. I love this little thing, but I don’t love the 72 little things that end up in my kitchen in six months if I don’t do something about it. And I’m not talking about, you know, the bread tie. I’m talking about the little planter or, you know, the little thing that my friend gave me.

Myquillyn (08:41.761)


Myquillyn (08:49.975)


Kathi (08:53.214)

And it’s okay to enjoy things for a season and then release them. And I’ve also learned it’s okay to just have that thing that my friend gave me out in the fall. It’s not a fall decoration and I love it, but it doesn’t need to be out 365 days a year because I enjoy a quieter space. I really do. I love that. And if you live near me,

Myquillyn (08:57.762)


Myquillyn (09:18.133)


Kathi (09:22.23)

Check Freecycle for this really beautiful but unnecessary gray chair that needs to that needs to go Okay Again for my clutter free people you are in our brains friend rule a one sane space Talk about that

Myquillyn (09:40.693)

That came about when we were living in a fixer upper and every room was in chaos. We didn’t have a sink in the kitchen. We had like plastic sheets as walls, you know, a weird electrical thing. You could get electrocuted if you weren’t careful. And I just remember thinking, okay we got to have, we have to feel like a little bit normal. We can’t have every room be in chaos. So even with the plastic walls, I just got some paint and I painted over because it was like

Hunter green walls with the wallpaper. I pulled down the border real quick. Didn’t prep it perfectly, just thought, I gotta get something up and we’ll do it better in a few months. Threw a white paint on the wall, put a rug down, got our sectional in there, a couple pillows, a lamp, the television, the dog bed, like we can watch Andy Griffith, we can watch Survivor at night. A place for our family to feel relaxed and like.

sanity in the midst of living in a complete fixer upper. And even if you’re not in a fixer upper, if you’re, the relief of having one space that feels however you need it to feel, maybe it’s more minimal, maybe it’s more cozy at this stage in your life, while you do things in your other rooms is really powerful.

Kathi (10:57.986)

Not 20 minutes before we started these interviews, I was on a call with a nurse talking through her clutter situation. And she’s sneezing through the whole thing and is just sick and run down. And she goes, but I need to declutter, I need to declutter. And like, you cannot make any decisions right now. What I want you to do is just, where do you spend most of your time when you’re

as you’re recovering, she goes, in my living room. I said, I just need you to have a clear spot where your eye line isn’t seeing any clutter. And we can deal with this when you have more energy to make decisions and to do what you need to do, but you have to have a place to rest. And if your eyes are distracted by things, all these hanging chads, all these things that still need to be done.

You can never rest. Your brain is always flipping on, oh, it’s the hunter green paint. Oh, the dog’s bed isn’t in here because I don’t wanna get stuff on. You just have to have one place that you can open your eyes and rest. And this is, I love the name of it, One Sane Space. I’ve never thought of it. I always say you just have to have one place where you can escape, but Sane Space says,

No, I can rest and recover in this area. I love that so, so much. Okay, we’re going deeper into the rules, my friend. Number 98, make your own house rules. So explain this, and I wanna hear a few of yours, and I’ve got a couple of my own as well, because I have done this, but explain this concept.

Myquillyn (12:49.761)

Well, I give a book of 100 house rules and that’s one of them. I think that we should all come up with our own rules to live by. You know, about 10 years ago on Pinterest, it was a big thing. Everyone was making their own wooden sign with like house rules, you know, dogs on the sofa and whatever, no, whatever. It was like all fun things. I love that. Like that’s one of the reasons that I liked this name for the book because I think culturally it conjures up that memory of like the fun.

Kathi (12:53.292)


Kathi (13:04.212)


Myquillyn (13:18.541)

house rules, the relaxed house rules. But one of my personal decorating house rules is that I like my life full of color, but I like my house full of neutrals. I am persnickety and I change my mind. In the spring, if I am furniture shopping, I will buy teal furniture and blue furniture. And in the summer, I want red and pink furniture. And in the fall, I want rusty colors and muddy. And in the winter, I want white. Like I have learned, I can tell when I buy a piece of furniture,

that’s a color based on this, because it was like the season, whatever season was, the color I’m craving. I cannot do that, because I can’t buy a new sofa every four months. So, I learned I am way too like finicky and wanting to change my colors. So I will get all of my base things neutral. And then if I want colored sheets, if I want colored pillows, if I want a colored sweater, I’ll put up books with colors and flowers with colors.

Kathi (13:51.788)

Oh, yeah.

Kathi (13:57.856)


Kathi (14:10.798)


Myquillyn (14:15.585)

but I’m not gonna buy my main pieces in color because I wanna change my mind, I wanna change it up too much. That is not a rule for everyone. Someone else might have the opposite rule and they should. So that’s my example, what is yours?

Kathi (14:24.77)


Kathi (14:30.946)

So I’ve got a practical one and I have a fun one. So in our house, flooring needs to be functional, not fabulous. And I just needed to do it because, I mean, we live where there is a high chance that chicken poop will get in our house at one point or another. We’re just not precious about stuff. And we need stuff that is functional. And we can put the pretty stuff

at waist level or above. But yeah, the floors just have, and I would never have chosen the floors that we have downstairs, but they’re exactly the right floors. The previous owners knew what they were doing when if we needed to, we could take a hose to them. We don’t do that, but we could if we needed to. And then the other thing is, my style is things we love.

And that’s just, there is nothing in my house that I don’t love. I used to have things in my house that other people loved. Like we had, I bought a pillow one time for Christmas and in red letters it says Joy. And I was so sad to put it away after Christmas. I’m like, is Joy just reserved for December? And so now I have this Joy pillow out all year long.

And it makes me so happy all year long. And it’s like, we only have things in our house that we love. And if there’s something in our house that we don’t love, we have to question, you know, I don’t love our emergency kit. We have it in our house, but it’s not something I’m displaying. And so that’s our style is things we love. And it’s never going to fit into any genre, but I…

I wake up every day and I’m happy. So

Myquillyn (16:31.021)

That is perfect. The whole goal is for you to love your home. You have arrived. Like when we love our home, we use our home. So do not change any of that.

Kathi (16:34.71)


Kathi (16:39.34)


Yeah, and I’m reluctant to leave, because the world is not suited for me in any way, shape, or form, but my house is. Okay, this one. You’re a genius, this is all I’m gonna say. Rule number 99, make a we did it list. This is genius, please expand upon what this concept is.

Myquillyn (16:50.605)

and I’ll see you next time.

Myquillyn (17:06.989)

Gosh, I think when it comes to home, we are so focused on all the stuff we have to do and all the undone decisions and all the ceiling fan that needs to be replaced and we haven’t gotten to the back porch yet and the flooring in there. If we can take a moment and take stock of all the things we have done, I do this at least every year and look back like everything in our house, we do it with our goals too, like what we did with our family, but.

Kathi (17:16.91)


Myquillyn (17:34.561)

You and everything counts. If we made a chicken coop, if we replaced the faucet, if I’m like, and I dusted behind the sofa, write that down, you know, change the light fixture, whatever, it all counts. I think we would be shocked at what we accomplish in a year, in a month in our home. We need to give ourselves credit for all that we’ve done in caring for our home.

Kathi (17:59.246)

And do not discount making a chicken coop because let’s be clear the one we got was advertised as like a Michaels do-it-yourself project and it turned out to be a Home Depot expert pro project It I mean it is it is a fabulous chicken coop, but holy cow. Yes I think it’s we have such I do this with decorating I do this with God, but what have you done lately? What have you done lately like?

Myquillyn (18:12.301)

It’s true.

Kathi (18:28.074)

You know, yes, I have worked so hard on my house. I forget what it was like to move out of the upstairs of our house to put flooring down. You might as well burn the house down and start over again. It is so much work, but it’s done. And it’s done for the next hopefully 20 years. But it’s so easy to focus on, yeah, but the kitchen light fixture. Like I haven’t done the kitchen light fixture.

Myquillyn (18:43.894)

I’m dead.

Kathi (18:56.858)

And I love that you’re taking stock. And this is so true in our cluttery communities. We always talk about, we declutter and then it just gets to look like that again. But here’s the thing, once you get the stuff out of your house, you never ever have to deal with that book or piece of furniture or piece of clothing ever again for the rest of your life. You may have to deal on what you’re bringing into the house but look at what you’ve done.

And we’re so proud when our kids do something, we need to also recognize ourselves for the accomplishments we’re doing. Because let’s be honest, some of these projects are hard and they take big grownup decision making that is sometimes, and you’ve saved money to do things. And if you’ve brought in outside help, that doesn’t always go the way, and you have to negotiate with the people you live with. And so anytime you accomplish something, it is…

It is a win. And guys, if you are ready to, especially if you’ve done some decluttering, I really think one of the best things you can do for yourself, and I know I learned this term from you, after you’ve quieted your house, you can take a look around and say, is there something that I want to do? Because now that my house isn’t screaming clutter at me, it can reveal its personality. It can reveal who it is.

And guys, I’m just gonna really encourage you. Take a look at this book, House Rules, How to Decorate for Every Home, Style, and Budget. Myquillyn this is, I get so inspired when I spend time with you. Thank you so much for your time and your wisdom today.

Myquillyn (20:37.341)

Oh, Kathi, you are so dear. You could, you know all of this. You don’t even need me. Like you are beyond. So I just, so happy to know you and man, you are so wise.

Kathi (20:49.758)

Okay, even if that was true, here’s what you do. You help me be brave. You help me not get, I think so many of us who deal with clutter are such, we’re perfectionists in such hard ways. We don’t do anything until we know we can do it 100%. And you’ve given me permission to say, even if I think I can do it, I should try. I’m probably not gonna burn the house down. I probably am not going to have to repaint the whole room. And…

You know, maybe some $20 decisions are okay to take a flyer on. So I know a lot of what you teach, but you helped me be brave to enact it. And that’s what I want for everybody in my community. So thank you. Thank you, friend.

Myquillyn (21:36.749)

Oh, happy to be here. Thank you.

Kathi (21:39.69)

And friends, thank you for being here. You are the best part of us gathering each week. You’ve been listening to Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter free life you’ve always wanted to live.

#613 5 Steps to Unstuff Your House

#613 5 Steps to Unstuff Your House

613 – 5 Steps to Unstuff Your House

Are you feeling trapped in a home overstuffed with, well, STUFF? You’re not alone! In the latest episode of Clutter Free Academy, Kathi teams up with Tenneil Register, an incredible mom who mastered the art of living clutter free – even in the tight quarters of a fixer-upper with a blended family of seven! Tune in for their tips on:

  • Making your house a home instead of a storage unit
  • Using things you love as creative storage solutions
  • Letting go of things that are no longer your vibe

In this episode, Tenneil mentions using repurposed items to decorate her space. Here are the promised photos!

And here’s Kathi’s favorite Suzani couch:

Sign up here to be notified when the next episode is released, or here to receive Kathi’s Clutter Free Kit!


The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home

Homesteading [hohm-sted-ing]
1. an act or instance of establishing a homestead.
2. the act of loving where you live so much that you actively ignore the fact that your house is trying to kill you on a regular basis.

For Kathi Lipp and her husband, Roger, buying a house in one of the most remote parts of Northern California was never part of the plan; many of life’s biggest, most rewarding adventures rarely are.

Kathi shares the hard-won wisdom she’s gained on her homestead journey to help you accomplish more at home, gain fresh perspective, and give yourself grace in the process. Here’s a handful of the lessons Kathi shares:

  • Prepare before the need arises
  • Everything is always in process, including us
  • Your best household solution is time and patience
  • You don’t have to do everything the hard way
  • Be open to new and better ways of doing things
  • A lot of small changes make a huge difference.
    Highly practical, humorous, and inspirational, The Accidental Homesteader will encourage you to live with more peace, joy, and contentment.

Order your copy of The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home here.

Favorite Links:

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Clutter Free Resources:

Have you made creative storage solutions out of objects meant for something else, like Tenneil did? Share your answer in the comments.

Let’s stay connected

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a note in the comment section below.
  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

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Meet Our Guest 


Tenneil Register

Tenneil Register can be found creating, repurposing, decorating, gardening and welcoming guests to their reclaimed barn storefront. She and her husband, Cowboy, established rural roots for their blended family of 7 in their DIY ranch home in Iowa. Connect with her on Instagram for practical ideas to reclaim your home or visit R7Reclaimed.com.


Tonya Kubo Picture

Kathi (00:01.463)
Well, hey friends, welcome to Clutter Free Academy where our goal is to help you take small doable steps to live every day with less clutter and more life. And guys, we love her. She may be newish to you, but she is going to become a regular over here at Clutter Free Academy. You guys.

It is my friend, Tenneil Register. Tenneil is a business owner. She has the cutest little store you’ve ever seen in your entire life. She runs an Airbnb. She’s had a blended family and is one of the coolest, most stylish people I know. Well, let me just call it, it’s country stylish, right? Okay, so welcome Tenneil. And when I say country stylish, I’m not saying, I’m not making that go down.

We were just talking about how Dollar General is, what’d you call it?

Tenneil (01:05.364)
is the rural girl’s Target

Kathi (01:07.455)
It’s so true, right? Like, you know you live out in the country when you’re like, oh, I could use that as decor. Like, it’s a different thing, right? And I mean, I just love it. And you have such an eye for that kind of stuff, which I do not. And so I love to see you decorating and stuff, but you had to get your house decluttered before you could make it all your own, didn’t you?

Tenneil (01:37.394)
I absolutely had a challenge of a lifetime when we bought our house after blending our family.

Kathi (01:43.851)
Okay, so I want to know the stats, like how many people, how many square feet, like how many his, how many yours, how many ours, you know, all that kind of stuff.

Tenneil (01:54.222)
Okay, so stats is five acres, 1800 square feet on an upper level. Yes, and then we have a basement, but it was unfinished.

Kathi (02:01.847)
I didn’t know it was that small

Kathi (02:07.64)
Oh my goodness. 18. Okay. Uh, how many people did you have?

Tenneil (02:12.13)
So I brought one to the table, he brought four. So there was five kids plus the two of us. So that made what we call our seven.

Kathi (02:14.359)
Right. Okay, oh.

Tenneil (02:23.28)

Kathi (02:23.351)
Okay, yeah, by the way, okay, so Roger and I did 1400 square feet, four kids, but one of them’s like, I’m out of here. Cause she was 18 and she didn’t wanna share a room with a 13 year old, which we totally got. But it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done when it comes to house and clutter and all the things.

Tenneil (02:45.802)
Yes, and we didn’t have all of them living with us full time, but there were times they were all here and we wanted everybody to have their own space. So in the house that we bought, it was a fixer upper, like there were no floors, just sub floors, and it had five bedrooms on that 1800 square feet. So you can imagine how small the kitchen-living room combo were to have five bedrooms in that 1800 square feet.

Kathi (02:49.956)

Kathi (02:54.917)

Kathi (03:01.384)
Oh no. Oh no!

Kathi (03:09.079)
Yeah, right.

Holy cow, that is a ton. I mean, that is just a ton of people in such a small space.

Tenneil (03:15.09)

Tenneil (03:20.658)
and all of those people come with stuff. And when you’re new to a blended family, your own stuff is really important. I can remember such long arguments over what to pack in a suitcase so it wouldn’t be over the weight limit and so that I wouldn’t be overwhelmed with the amount of laundry and things to keep track of. When Jesse and I got married, I had one three-year-old kid that I was pretty OCD with.

Kathi (03:28.135)
It really is. It really is.

Kathi (03:48.545)

Tenneil (03:49.187)
So transferring this to a large group of people, whoa.

Kathi (03:52.567)
Yeah, yeah, it’s a lot. And for all of you out there listening, we all have that one seemingly insurmountable clutter challenge. Maybe a parent has passed away and you’re bringing all their stuff to your house, or you’re blending a family, or you have to downsize quickly because of a financial situation or a health situation, or…

you are taking, you know, several of my friends who are Gen X or in the boomer generation, their kids are coming home with, you know, their spouses and their kids. And so these are all huge, huge situations. So when your house gets stuffed like that, like it’s almost like yesterday, okay, Tenneil this is a terrible illustration, but I have to share it now.

We went to a place called, I think it’s called Bad Donuts. I can’t remember what it’s called. It’s something like that. And what they do is they give you a donut. Roger and I have been wanting to try it. Oh, it’s called Bad Bakers, that’s right. And we’ve been wanting to try it. So we got this donut and they give you, I’m not joking, a medical syringe filled with cream that you stuff into this donut and this donut like puffs up. So by the way, it’s one of the best donuts I’ve ever had in my life.

But that’s how your house can feel like during these circumstances, right? It’s a weird one, but yeah. Yes.

Tenneil (05:19.254)
that’s an excellent illustration because you love your donut and you love your home and then when you fill it with something it kind of feels overstuffed.

Kathi (05:29.767)
Yes, and that’s exactly what was happening yesterday. I love that. I didn’t even pull that out. But yes, I love the donut I love this cream filling. It was a chocolate cream filling. Oh my goodness. It was amazing But yes, it felt like too much. It was getting everywhere Like i’m not even joking. I took Moose in for her doctor’s appointment I get back in the car and i’ve got this streak of chocolate on my face. I was so embarrassed, but you know what? If I have to be embarrassed, let me be embarrassed by chocolate. So

I, we’ve come up with five steps to unstuff your house. So I want to go through this with you and let’s figure out how we can help people who are in these circumstances, um, get through it. So the first step that you and I talked about is acknowledge and accept. So tell me what that looked like for you when you and Jesse got married and your house felt out of control.

Tenneil (06:22.422)
Yeah, so I think one thing is acknowledging the clutter issue. It’s not a people issue. It’s not a family issue. It’s an issue with stuff that needs to be changed and can be changed. So this isn’t about changing like our relationship with people. This is about changing our relationship with stuff so we can improve our relationships with people.

Kathi (06:26.691)
Mm-hmm. Mm.


Kathi (06:35.062)

Kathi (06:41.731)
Oh, it’s so true. And I think you have to give people a vision for it. Like, we know that this stuff is causing anxiety in our house. And we want to change that for everybody. Because it feels like it’s the people who are it’s such a good point Tenneil it feels like it’s the people who are giving you anxiety when a lot of it could just be the abundance of stuff, because that really can raise anxiety.

Tenneil (07:10.09)
Yes. And what am I holding on to? Like, why is that stuff bothering me? So for example, shoes by the front door, right? Am I really upset that the people are here and they took their shoes off? No, that’s what I want them to do. I want them to come here and I want them to take their shoes off. What the real frustration was no place for the number of shoes because we had so little floor space we couldn’t afford to give any up.

Kathi (07:13.415)
Hmm. Yes. Yeah.

Kathi (07:20.398)

Kathi (07:25.952)

Kathi (07:35.979)
Yeah, you know, I don’t know if you know this story, but when Roger and I first got married, we had the shoes at the front door situation as well. And so I bought a bookshelf for people to put their shoes on. And I asked Roger to build it, and I asked him to put it behind the couch so that nobody would see it. And there was only one person in our house who ever used it. It was Roger. It wasn’t even me. It’s like, I’m not gonna go.

Tenneil (07:59.946)
Roger. I knew it.

Kathi (08:05.359)
So yes, to be able to say, and I think it’s important for us to say, this is temporary. Like we’re not gonna have teenagers forever. We’re not gonna have little kids forever. But right now we want them to take their shoes off because yeah, subfloors and things like that. I think that’s really important. So how did you set achievable goals in the whole idea of decluttering?

Tenneil (08:31.798)
Yeah, so I think with the achievable goals, we had to look and say, okay, what is it about this space and what can we do about it on no budget and without like really changing people’s behavior, right? And so on the shoe thing, right? It was deciding which of these things are the real problem. You know, is it the number of shoes? Is it where we’re keeping the shoes? So our first step was to…

Kathi (08:39.584)
Bre- Yes.

Kathi (08:44.517)


Kathi (08:52.892)

Kathi (08:57.132)

Tenneil (09:00.534)
to recognize what we needed to get rid of. So I had always prided myself in having an entryway that was pretty. That when you walk in, people go, wow, okay, that needed to go, that was not a priority in that season of life.

Kathi (09:13.535)
Yeah, okay.

Kathi (09:18.975)
Right, you’re in survival mode at this point. Yeah.

Tenneil (09:22.526)
Yeah, and so, okay, how can we make this space work? So, all that decorative stuff was put out of the way and I chose pieces that were decorative that would do the job. So I found my favorite coat hanger. We actually made it from old architectural salvage trim and put big hooks on it, right? And this set limits, cause there’s seven hooks, seven people. You get one hook.

Kathi (09:26.631)
Mm-hmm. So what’d you do?

Kathi (09:33.243)

Kathi (09:44.919)
Oh my goodness. Uh-huh.

Kathi (09:51.532)
Ah, you get one hook, baby.

Tenneil (09:54.338)
I’m not going to complain how over-stepped your hook is, even though I would like to, but you just get your one hook. And then I found this old hardware bolt bin. So this thing is like probably seven feet tall. It’s as tall as our ceiling. And it’s like, I don’t know, I think it’s five or six rows wide. I think Jesse and I shared a row for a while and full of cubby holes.

Kathi (10:00.074)

Kathi (10:04.237)

Kathi (10:08.34)
Oh my goodness.

Kathi (10:14.311)
Mm-hmm. Okay.


Tenneil (10:19.582)
And in those cubby holes, you can put your shoes, you can put your glove, you can put your baseball. I’m not gonna fight about what’s in the cubby hole as long as it’s not on the floor.

Kathi (10:27.243)
Right? Yes. It’s so true. It’s about agreeing on space, not arguing about stuff. And so this is your space. You can’t keep 10 pairs of shoes in there. It won’t fit. So you have to figure out, if you wear the same shoes every day, you’re golden, baby. But if you wanna change them out, you’re gonna have to put some things in your room, that kind of thing. Yeah, I love that.

Tenneil (10:43.351)

Tenneil (10:52.714)
Yeah, so we acknowledged what needed to happen. We sorted out what the space needed to be used for and came up with a function and a purpose for that, which led to good storage.

Kathi (10:56.443)

Kathi (11:07.019)
Yes, and I love that you know sometimes you have to do temporary things until you find what you love but You you found some things you love are those things still hanging in your house? Okay, i’m gonna need a picture of those because I want to see what we’re talking about here is that okay? Okay

Tenneil (11:18.102)
They are.

Tenneil (11:24.554)
Yeah, absolutely. And I will send you the picture that includes the shoes laying on the floor in front of the rack where they go, because we are still human, but it is so much easier to bend over and put them up in the shelf or to say something like, hey, you have till 5pm to get those up in the shelf. Now, I’ll tell you, I don’t know where this fits into our five steps. However, the key to implementing like this category and storage for the people when they were young.

Kathi (11:30.086)

Kathi (11:33.879)
Of course.

Uh, I love it.


Kathi (11:52.631)

Tenneil (11:55.382)
was that I would say, okay, you have till the end of the day to use the systems we have in place. And then anybody who didn’t, I didn’t complain, I didn’t nag, I didn’t yell. I simply picked up all of the things and they went in a tub. And to get your things out of the tub, you would have to do a chore.

Kathi (12:00.27)

Kathi (12:14.303)
Nice I love that you had to ransomware it was ransomware it was an I Love it, okay guys. We’re gonna take a quick break. This is only step one of five So we’re gonna blast through those last five But we want to help you unstuff your house, and we’re gonna continue to do that when we come back

Tenneil (12:19.502)
Absolutely, it was highly effective for us.

Kathi (12:36.583)
Friends, we are here with Tenneil Register, who, she’s got the style, guys, she’s got the style. And we’ve already talked about our first step to unstuffing your house is to acknowledge and accept what the situation is. And I love what you said. It’s not that you want the people out of here for most of us. Okay, some people, at one point we did have to have a Come to Jesus meeting and say, you have to move out. You don’t live here anymore. But, but.

Tenneil (13:01.924)

Kathi (13:05.431)
It’s the stuff and we need to figure that out as well. Okay, so let’s go to step number two, sort and categorize. So as you’re decluttering, we have our three bag, well, it’s really a five bag system. So put away, give away and put back. So put back is in the room that you’re already in, put away is, it’s other rooms, sorry, other rooms and then give away.

is what are you gonna donate? And then we have garbage and recycling. So is that what you did? Or how did you keep up on decluttering, especially during like a remodel and stuff? How did you do that?

Tenneil (13:51.726)
So definitely our categories were similar. Whenever we approached a space, I took the idea, what are we gonna keep? Because kids or all of us as humans, we have a hard time deciding what to get rid of. So we went into the space assuming we’re gonna get rid of everything other than what we’re gonna keep. Then once we had our keepers, we sorted out, okay, would you feel better about donating this, selling this or pitching it? And so that was really important.

Kathi (13:55.611)

Kathi (14:00.632)

Kathi (14:06.648)

Kathi (14:11.216)
Mm-hmm. Yeah, so smart.

Kathi (14:18.124)
Mm-hmm. Right.

Tenneil (14:21.994)
Because we live in the Midwest and we experience all four seasons in such a significant way, seasonal sorts were critical. Because we literally change out all of our clothes, all of our gear for leaving the house, the sports equipment, like everything changes by the season.

Kathi (14:25.52)
Mm-hmm. Right.


Kathi (14:33.227)

Kathi (14:38.875)
Tenneil I had no idea. I lived in the Bay Area, which is the most moderate temperatures, probably in the United States. Like rain was such a big deal, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. And then I moved to the mountain where, today, on this day of our Lord, we are bringing down our summer winter stuff.

because and it’s like it’s a huge deal. It’s a huge deal. And today is the day we’re putting away the snowshoes. And I mean, it is such a huge deal. So if you live in these other places, it really, you’re not just turning over your house, you’re turning over your wardrobe, your equipment, all of that stuff, right?

Tenneil (15:28.054)
Yes, and so each time you do that, it’s important to purge, purge, purge.

Kathi (15:32.599)
Yes, yes, yes. And I love, you know, we’re doing this right now. And when we come, I’m purging two different categories. I’m saying, okay, what have I not worn all winter? And then as I pull down my spring and my summer, just really recognizing in myself, do I still love this thing? And it’s okay to say no.

It’s okay to say, you know what, I bought that last year at Costco because I thought it was cute, but it’s not my vibe. And I would rather it go to somebody who will love it and use it instead of keeping it and just punishing myself every time I open up the closet. We’ve had to do that with equipment that, you know, we bought what we thought was the right thing, turns out it wasn’t. And let’s get into the hands of somebody who’s it is the right thing.

How does that work out for you?

Tenneil (16:30.902)
Yes, I love that we’re only keeping what we love, what we use. And for me, at the beginning of the podcast, we talked stats. Stats were super important in helping us manage stuff for so many people in one household. So for example, I learned it at first when we were packing for trips, that I would have to be very specific. I want you to pack three pairs of shorts, three pairs of shirts, two swimsuits, right? I would give them the numbers.

Kathi (16:37.295)

Kathi (16:40.759)

Kathi (16:45.878)

Kathi (16:49.919)
mm-hmm yes

Tenneil (16:58.998)
The same helped when we would purge. I want you to pick your five favorite dresses. I want you to pick, you know, your two best snow boots. And then helping them find a meaningful place to pass it on was the best part of helping them let it go. So whether that was like a younger niece or nephew who would be thrilled to have their Nike tennis shoes or whatever. And then also like we used our local…

Kathi (16:59.343)

Kathi (17:04.623)
Hmm, yeah.

Kathi (17:11.409)

Kathi (17:20.876)

Tenneil (17:28.554)
like food pantries also give out clothing closets. And my kids really had a deep understanding that somebody else would really love to get their nice things. And that helped as well.

Kathi (17:32.24)

Kathi (17:39.935)
Mm-hmm, right. Oh, I love it. Okay, step number three. Instead of discussing this, because what I wanna talk about, what step number three is implementing storage solutions. Here’s what I would love to, Neal. We’re gonna get the pictures of your bolt bucket and your clothes hanger. And if you have a couple other pictures of storage solutions that you’ve used, because we could talk about it all day, but…

Literally, a picture is worth a thousand words here. Would you be willing to do that for us?

Tenneil (18:15.658)
I would love to share pictures of how I used decorative pieces that have rural vibes because that’s who I am to organize the things. And that made it fun for me too because I got to pick something creative to manage all the stuff. So I’d love to share photos of how we managed all the things over the years.

Kathi (18:20.695)

Kathi (18:31.648)

Kathi (18:36.567)
I can’t wait and then we’ll have to come back on another podcast and discuss how you How you use those because I think that’s gonna be really interesting to people and how you came up with it. Okay step number four and For me, this is I had to admit That I am not a minimalist

I’m not a minimalist. I like stuff. I like things that suggest who I am. And I’m wondering, where do you put yourself in that category?

Tenneil (19:18.286)
Hmm. I would also say I’m not a minimalist. I like to change out my decor seasonally. I like to use decorative pieces to store things that are typically from like a family travel. So like I love to like antique and thrift. So if I find a box that I love that has the name of a place that we are traveling.

Kathi (19:26.139)

Kathi (19:38.158)

Kathi (19:47.891)

Tenneil (19:48.902)
I want to bring that home and I want to use it. So the key for me is to find like a purposeful way to use it.

Kathi (19:51.595)

Kathi (19:56.191)
Oh, I love that so much. Yeah, and I think it’s okay to say we’re not minimalist. That’s not our aesthetic, but we don’t wanna be stuffed either. We wanna find that happy meeting of having, I love things that have a story, just like you. Sitting on my bed is a teddy bear. This is a teddy bear that my son got 35 years ago, but it still makes me smile every time I see it.

Tenneil (20:14.271)

Kathi (20:26.239)
Uh, you know, I’ve got, I’ve got a couch that I remember like, you know, I, I love it because it’s beautiful, but also the memory of finding it and calling Roger and taking pictures and saying, you know, I never called him and I’m saying, by the way, I’m buying this, but that’s what I did. By the way, I’m buying this because this is my, you know, how people have their heart animal, like this is my ride or die. That was this couch.

And so I’ll make sure I take a picture of that couch so you guys can see that. I’ve shared it here before, but it’s called a Suzani print, which is a Middle Eastern print that I adore it. And it’s just who I am. So I love that you collect things that are from travels and things that are important to you and your history. I think that that’s amazing. I think about like the gift that was most meaningful to my mom.

Tenneil (20:55.231)

Kathi (21:25.179)
from my daughter was a Kansas City pillow. You know, it just had all these things from Kansas City on it and my mom loves it. I mean, she loves where she was born so much. Her cat’s name is Casey. So, you know, we love that. Okay, and then step, oh, go ahead, yeah, please.

Tenneil (21:41.282)
So I was thinking as you were talking, Kathi what if we could answer two questions? Why do I love this? How or where will I use it? And then it’s a keeper.

Kathi (21:48.691)

Kathi (21:54.047)
Ooh, those are such good ques- yeah, that is such a good question. And before you bring it home to be able to answer those two questions, I think is a real, and you know, if you absolutely love it and you haven’t figured it out yet, okay, if you just know, like this Suzani couch, I did not know where I was going to put it, but like, oh, we’re making a space for that. Um, which is pretty funny to do with a whole couch, but it’s some place I love.

Tenneil (22:02.603)

Tenneil (22:19.702)

Kathi (22:21.115)
But yes, I think that that’s so important. And I think it’s really important to not bring things home to fill a space because it’s very easy to be like, oh, you know, I could really use X, Y. And I’ll admit, I have a couple of pieces of furniture that were fill a space furniture. And one of them I’m giving away this week. It’s an extra wide chair.

that I just I needed to fill a space downstairs and now I should have waited for something I love the good news is I have a friend where this is the perfect chair for her and what she needs so I love that but okay number five um I think in unstuffing your house there there’s a time element which is to set time aside

but also to not rush the process, especially when other humans and emotions are involved. And it sounds like that’s what you did, that you started the process, but you were not telling people, okay, you have to be able to fit everything into a suitcase and otherwise you can’t have it in the house. You were making space for the people.

Tenneil (23:42.006)
And you have to be willing for error to occur. The bolt then that worked for our shoes was not my first attempt at where to put our shoes. You know, like tried putting them in the closet, you know, tried putting them under a bench, tried saying you can, I did try to say, you can only have one pair of shoes out here by the door, the rest go to your room. That was fighting behaviors in humans that I was going to lose.

Kathi (23:46.215)
Mm-hmm. Okay.

Kathi (23:52.539)
Oh, really? Okay.


Kathi (24:02.149)

Kathi (24:06.105)

Tenneil (24:09.11)
So you have to be willing to kind of make mistakes and learn from the process while you figure out which category of stuff should go here and what storage unit should we use to hold that stuff.

Kathi (24:17.732)

Kathi (24:23.871)
Yeah. So really what you were doing and I, it’s my favorite word in the world. You were curating. You really were taking your time. Curation does not happen in a day. It happens over a lifetime. And you were curating the space for your family.

Tenneil (24:42.778)
You know when we go into a space what makes us most comfortable whether it’s someone’s home, a hotel, an Airbnb, a restaurant is when we are guided through the process so simply that we never find ourselves asking where should I put this? What should I do next? And so how important that in your own home everyone who lives there feels comfortable knowing where should I put this and what should I do next?

Kathi (25:00.123)
Hmm, yeah.

Tenneil (25:11.138)
that that’s not disruptive to their feelings of home, especially in a blended family situation.

Kathi (25:11.384)

Kathi (25:19.332)
Mm, ah. Tenneil, I have loved this conversation. This has been amazing. And I’m gonna make sure that we have all of your socials on here. So if people wanna follow, because I just think your life, especially on Instagram, is so inspirational with what you’re doing and how you’re creating and curating things. I think people would love to follow you. Tenneil, thanks so much for being on Clutter Free Academy.

Tenneil (25:46.795)
Thanks for having me. I’ve enjoyed the conversation so much and I look forward to talking more

Kathi (25:49.183)
Yeah, it’s so fun and deep at the same time. And friends, thank you for listening to Clutter Free Academy, I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter free life you were always designed to live.


#612 How to Deal with the Mental Load Part 2

#612 How to Deal with the Mental Load Part 2

612 – How to Deal with the Mental Load Part 2

Do you feel like you are the only person in your house who understands the amount of strategic planning it takes to do the grocery shopping?

You are not alone, my friend!

Join us for How to Deal with the Mental Load Part 2, as Tonya Kubo and Kathi Lipp explore the balance of insourcing and outsourcing daily tasks to manage burnout. Discover creative solutions for family involvement, the mental load battle, and how to negotiate for change without guilt. This episode offers insights into mental load management and gender roles, aimed at improving household dynamics. Kathi and Tonya offer helpful insights, such as:

  • How insourcing allows people to “scratch an itch” they have
  • How to make decisions based on resources
  • How to achieve collective household downtime

Did you miss How to Deal with the Mental Load Part 1? Listen here

Tonya and Kathi mention continuing this conversation. Here are the details! Live workshop: April 11 at 4 p.m. PST in the Clutter Free Academy Facebook Group (kathi.link/cfa)

Looking for the best way to communicate ideas and questions with the Clutter-Free Team? Send an email to support@kathilipp.com

Also, stay up to date and sign up here to receive our newsletter.


The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home

Homesteading [hohm-sted-ing]
1. an act or instance of establishing a homestead.
2. the act of loving where you live so much that you actively ignore the fact that your house is trying to kill you on a regular basis.

For Kathi Lipp and her husband, Roger, buying a house in one of the most remote parts of Northern California was never part of the plan; many of life’s biggest, most rewarding adventures rarely are.

Kathi shares the hard-won wisdom she’s gained on her homestead journey to help you accomplish more at home, gain fresh perspective, and give yourself grace in the process. Here’s a handful of the lessons Kathi shares:

  • Prepare before the need arises
  • Everything is always in process, including us
  • Your best household solution is time and patience
  • You don’t have to do everything the hard way
  • Be open to new and better ways of doing things
  • A lot of small changes make a huge difference.
    Highly practical, humorous, and inspirational, The Accidental Homesteader will encourage you to live with more peace, joy, and contentment.

Order your copy of The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home here.

Links Mentioned:

Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live) by Eve Rodsky

Sign up here for Kathi’s newsletter or here to receive her Clutter Free Basics Kit! 

“The Help List” – Kathi’s social media post about her kids/guests helping at the holidays that went VIRAL! 

Continue this conversation with Kathi & Tonya at the live workshop: April 11 at 4 p.m. PST in the Clutter Free Academy Facebook Group (kathi.link/cfa)

Clutter Free Resources:

Tonya Kubo found creative ways to manage her mental load through “insourcing” and “outsourcing.” Share in the comments some personal experiences where these strategies have worked for you!

Let’s stay connected

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a note in the comment section below.
  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.

Meet Our Guest 


Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo is the illustrious and fearless leader of Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy Facebook group and the Clutter Free for Life membership program. A speaker and writer, Tonya makes her home in the heart of California with her husband, Brian, their two spirited daughters, and one very tolerant cat. Visit her at www.tonyakubo.com.


Tonya Kubo Picture

Kathi (00:00.398)
Well, hey friends, welcome to Clutter-Free Academy, where our goal is to help you take small, doable steps to live every day with less clutter and more life. And I am back for part two of my discussion of mental load with Tanya Kubo. And Tanya, I loved our first conversation. I wanna dive right into our second conversation. You and I lead Clutter-Free Academy and Clutter-Free for Life, and are on this podcast,

Tonya Kubo (00:27.463)

Kathi (00:30.362)
often giving people lots of ideas of how to declutter their house, how to do all the things. But I know that there are a lot of women out there, and I’m just going to say women, who are trying to do this all on their own. And they are not getting the help from their partner, from their kids, from anybody. And you know, a lot of our conversation is going to be around partners, but also, I had four kids, you’ve got two kids.

Tonya Kubo (00:44.871)

Kathi (01:01.495)
Those conversations need to happen as well. How do you explain mental load to your girls? How do you explain that it can’t all be up to you?

Tonya Kubo (01:13.827)
Yeah, well, I mean, mental load to the girls is simply all, you know, the level of difficulty it is to do a thing. You know, so we talk about like, you know, Lily rode horses, both girls have taken piano lessons. There’s a period in time where you have to think, in the case of piano, before you push each key, right? Is this the right key? Am I doing it with the right level of pressure? All of that stuff.

Kathi (01:25.792)

Kathi (01:38.731)

Tonya Kubo (01:43.627)
And then one day you’re just playing piano and you’re just worried about your chords and you can tell if it sounds right. Like that’s kind of the ultimate description of mental load. I use the computer analogy with them all the time because they’re younger, they get it. But I just tell them, there’s a lot going on in mama’s brain right now and I need some help. I need some help to offload it. But I also normalize when I know there’s a lot going on in their brains and I…

Kathi (01:59.456)

Kathi (02:05.964)

Kathi (02:10.622)

Tonya Kubo (02:12.148)
I offer for them to offload on me.

Kathi (02:15.346)
Yeah, I love that. And you know, it’s interesting. I used to feel very guilty for asking for help, asking for support when I enjoyed doing something that was hard. Like, you know, planning for our Christmas or planning for a big Thanksgiving. And I actually enjoy that, but it’s also a lot of work. And, you know.

Tonya Kubo (02:23.675)

Tonya Kubo (02:34.331)


Kathi (02:40.338)
Last November, I wrote an article about the help list where I was asking family members to help my kids and stuff. And that thing blew up not because I’m a great writer, but because people are desperate for help.

Tonya Kubo (02:45.58)

Tonya Kubo (02:52.911)
Well, and people had strong opinions. I mean, can we unpack that? Cause that right there was, I think, one of the best case studies in the topic that we’re discussing, not so much even the mental load topic, right? But you had everything from people going, can I see your list? Because they didn’t even know what was appropriate to ask for help with, right? Like, because the idea of asking for help was so foreign. And then there were the people…

Kathi (02:58.187)

Kathi (03:04.34)

Kathi (03:12.706)

Kathi (03:18.334)

Tonya Kubo (03:22.535)
that were like, well, remind me never to accept an invitation to your house if I have to do chores while I get there. Right. And we’re like, huh, okay. I mean, if that’s what you read, that’s like if that’s what you read into it, fine. But right. But you know, it’s like that person who wrote that lives with somebody who’s probably doing all the stuff.

Kathi (03:28.488)

Kathi (03:31.95)
Huh, interesting take. Yeah.

Kathi (03:43.846)
Yes, exactly. Right? Yeah, it was very bizarre. And I said, you know, I have my adult children, the people I gave birth to, go in and check our bathroom to make sure it’s clean. They’re like, how filthy is your bathroom that you need somebody to go in and check it? I’m like, you know, towels get dingy after a little while. toilet paper needs to be replaced. Yeah.

Tonya Kubo (03:52.165)

Tonya Kubo (03:55.845)

Tonya Kubo (04:06.823)
And it’s like that’s…

That’s like not even the point. The point is if somebody else is in charge of checking the bathroom every hour, you don’t have to, you don’t have to be thinking, oh gosh, like is the toilet paper out? Do I need to refill the soap? Is the, is the hand towel still hanging up there or did one of the kids like walk off with it? Right? It’s just like, oh, well somebody else has got that. They’ll tell me if there’s a problem, if they need my help. I mean that, that right there is the definition of mental load. It’s the fact that you are trying to base to Turkey.

Kathi (04:12.404)

Kathi (04:17.373)

Kathi (04:32.918)

Kathi (04:36.629)

Tonya Kubo (04:38.703)
while wondering when the last time the toilet paper roll was changed.

Kathi (04:41.814)
Yeah, it’s exactly it. So let’s talk about the difference between insourcing and outsourcing because I think this is really interesting how you describe it. And on that list, I had insourcing and outsourcing. And yeah, so let’s talk about what you mean by that.

Tonya Kubo (04:55.276)

Tonya Kubo (04:58.739)
Yeah, so, you know, because I was a working professional for, you know, my entire married life and also as a mother, I got used to and I worked at a university. So we outsource certain tasks and then, you know, we would insource tasks, which meant you found somebody to do the thing. And even if it wasn’t part of their natural job responsibilities. So when I started looking at, so like my personal come to Jesus meeting with myself and with Brian was

when I realized that I would get home on a Friday night, like the house was sideways all week long, I would get home on a Friday night and I would not actually sit down until I collapsed into bed on Sunday and I would go to work on Monday’s limping because I was so sore from being on my feet the whole weekend. And so I started thinking like, okay, if I can’t do it all, who can? Right? And there was a period of time when I couldn’t, like I couldn’t afford to hire help.

Kathi (05:45.783)

Tonya Kubo (05:56.911)
So I just started getting really creative. And so the insourcing is who lives inside, who can I delegate this to that lives inside my home? And the outsourcing is who can I delegate this to that lives outside my home? Now what’s on my insourcing list may be different than yours based on, there are certain things, for instance, Brian would not be comfortable having somebody come inside our house and do. So even if there were people that offered that service for money,

Kathi (06:14.722)

Kathi (06:21.291)

Tonya Kubo (06:25.399)
He would not be okay with anybody outside of our home doing that, right? Brian does not want anybody else doing his laundry. Brian does his own laundry. Right. Yeah, I mean Brian does the laundry in the house because that’s he has a thing.

Kathi (06:32.051)
Mm-hmm. I’m right there with Brian. It is not comfortable for me.

Kathi (06:39.567)
No, I was gonna say, I think Brian gets to be uncomfortable with people doing his laundry because Brian does the laundry. Yes.

Tonya Kubo (06:45.875)
Right, and Lily, like Brian, Lily does her own laundry. She doesn’t want anybody else touching her stuff. Okay, that’s fine, right? So that’s an example of insourcing, because note, the laundry gets done and I don’t do it. That’s what I needed to happen, right? So the grocery shopping, for instance, Brian loves to buy things. He is, he’s a buyer. So we always talk about in Colorful Academy, you’re a buyer or a keeper, he’s the buyer. He loves it. And what I found out,

Kathi (06:57.09)
Right. Beautiful. Love it. Yeah.

Kathi (07:06.486)
Yep. Yes.

Tonya Kubo (07:12.851)
I loved a grocery shop too actually, like that’s fun for me. But what I found is that if he wasn’t in charge of grocery shopping, if I did that piece, then he would take out that buying impulse in other ways.

Kathi (07:15.198)
Mm-hmm, right.

Kathi (07:26.447)
Ooh, good observation.

Tonya Kubo (07:28.259)
So having him go grocery shopping allows him to fulfill that urge to buy without blowing our budget. But you know what Brian hates doing, Kathi? He hates meal planning. Well, he hates meal planning. He hates thinking about what to eat. He just wants the food to magically appear. Like if it could just like, yeah, that’s what he wants. So when I was in grad school,

Kathi (07:34.182)
Yeah, scratches that itch. Yes. Oh, that makes a lot of sense. Right. Making a list. I just, yes. Yeah, okay. Yeah. Right. Yeah, cause that’s how that works. Yeah.

Tonya Kubo (07:55.331)
was when we started to outsource more. So I had somebody who would make meals for us once a week. Right, because I just told them, I was like, I don’t even have time to eat in a restaurant. So eating in a restaurant is not an option. But I can have, and they would drive the meals to us. They delivered the meals to us before Uber eats. And then that’s when we had a housekeeper. We only had a housekeeper for the time I was in grad school. And I would just tell them, like, for me it was,

Kathi (08:03.552)
Mmm, yeah.

Kathi (08:09.896)

Kathi (08:14.806)
Beautiful nice

Tonya Kubo (08:24.975)
wiped out, I’m exhausted, I can’t do all this, and guess what? You deserve to rest too.

Kathi (08:29.918)
Mm-hmm. Yes, isn’t that the goal? Isn’t that the goal is that it’s not that we just we want to give mom a break. We want to get no we want everybody To have time downtime. We want everybody to have time where they don’t feel the pressure of things going on we want everybody to have some delight and not feel guilty for wanting to pursue a hobby

Tonya Kubo (08:31.599)
So that’s kind of my difference. Yeah.

Tonya Kubo (08:38.98)

Tonya Kubo (08:43.397)

Tonya Kubo (08:58.703)

Kathi (08:58.77)
or not feel guilty. And this is where I like to bring in our discussion about space, time, energy, and money. You know, what are your resources? Because during grad school, I’m guessing you didn’t have a lot of extra money, but you had even less time.

Tonya Kubo (09:05.03)

Tonya Kubo (09:12.731)
Well, so it’s like yes and no, right? Because grad school comes with loans, right? And so, I mean, there was, that was the thing as we got into the second year of grad school, I didn’t actually need a loan to cover my expenses for schooling, right? And so, but I went to Brian and I was like, okay, we don’t need a loan to cover the school expenses, but if I take out the loan.

Kathi (09:17.066)

Kathi (09:21.912)
Mm, okay, yeah.

Kathi (09:32.14)
Ah, okay. Yeah.

Tonya Kubo (09:42.403)
that can cover some childcare support so that you can actually sleep in on a Saturday morning. That’s something he enjoys doing and somebody else can watch the girls. And that could help us so that we’re not eating McDonald’s three nights a week. And so that was a conscious decision we made as a couple. And I will tell you right now, Kathi, I pay that student loan payment every month with great gratitude in my heart because I don’t think I would have gotten through grad school because I was working full-time. But for me,

Kathi (09:49.705)

Kathi (09:55.534)

Kathi (10:03.946)

Kathi (10:08.291)

Tonya Kubo (10:11.439)
You know, there was also the kind of help that we hired, right? So it was like college kids. So I wasn’t paying like an in-home nanny expense. Right. But that time versus money thing, that was it was really hard for me to say, OK, I’m at a place where the time is so precious and if I have a free hour, I want to spend it reading to my children. I don’t want to spend it tidying up my kitchen.

Kathi (10:18.582)
bright. Yeah.

Kathi (10:34.146)

Kathi (10:37.834)
Absolutely. Yeah, we’ve had to make decisions around here as a couple. You know, it’s very inconvenient for us to go places. Like I have no choice. We are not running out to dinner. Like that’s not happening. If it’s going to happen, it’s usually it’s nine. Well, no, it’s 19 times out of 20 that I am cooking the meal, you know, and that’s okay. But that also means that

Tonya Kubo (10:47.281)


Tonya Kubo (11:00.777)

Kathi (11:07.226)
I’m not trying to work five days a week. I just can’t. Where we’ve chosen to live, I cannot do that. But we save money in other ways. And so those are decisions we’ve had to make as a couple. And, but both Roger and I want time to pursue things we love. You know, for Roger, he’s doing lights for a concert this weekend. And if I was saying, no, you need to be home.

Tonya Kubo (11:10.184)
Mm-hmm. Yep.


Tonya Kubo (11:21.659)

Kathi (11:35.626)
because X, Y, and Z, that doesn’t make sense. And so what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna come back in just a few minutes, we’re gonna listen to a couple of commercials, and then when we come back, I wanna talk about how do you start these discussions? Because it can be really hard to go from zero to 100. You know, like I’ve been, you know, shouldering the extra load, the mental load, the.

Tonya Kubo (11:48.972)
Oh, okay.

Tonya Kubo (11:53.429)

Kathi (12:01.394)
And I wanna give a couple examples of mental load so people can understand what we’re talking about, but then how do you have the discussions so that you can make changes in how you actually execute things around the house? We’ll be right back. Okay, we’re back with Tanya Kubo and we are talking about mental load. I wanted to give an example of what we’re talking about like for mental load. So, and I’m gonna use one of my kids as an example in that…

Tonya Kubo (12:22.727)

Kathi (12:31.326)
you know, my son went through a very belligerent stage where he, I said, you know, he says, mom, there’s no almond milk. And I’m like, well, I’ve told you to put that on the list, because I don’t drink almond milk. I don’t know what and he’s like, can’t you just figure it out? He said this to me, a whole human, fairly and he has repented for him for his sins.

Tonya Kubo (12:53.463)
And he’s still alive? I was like, and he’s still alive?

Kathi (13:00.566)
But I was like, dude, I’m the one who has to make the list. Go to, you know, drive myself to the store, go shopping, make sure that things are within budget. Purchase those things, bring those things home, and then put them away. All I’m asking you to do is put it on the list. But that was too much for him.

And you know what? I think there are a lot of partnerships out there like that. Like, yes, yes. And, good.

Tonya Kubo (13:31.307)
Oh yeah. I mean, like with Brian, well, I was just gonna say like how I explained it to Brian is what I recognized, I said that he does the grocery shopping. So I do the meal planning, I make the list, I send them to the store. Well, there was a time when I was trying to keep us, I think it was like a low buy a month or something, I was trying to keep us to a very tight budget. So what I realized, I couldn’t understand why, but he took twice as much time if I was like, okay, and don’t spend more than $100.

Kathi (14:00.383)

Tonya Kubo (14:00.927)
and he would come home in a foul mood. And what I, after a discussion, he was like, look, Tonya, give me a list. You tell me to stick to the list, I can do that. He goes, but when you give me a list and you send me to the store and you say it can’t go over a hundred dollars, then every item I go to buy, I have to go, okay, well, do I buy the three pound bag of apples or do I buy the individual apples? Do I buy the green apples or do I buy the red apples?

Kathi (14:03.571)

Kathi (14:23.854)

Tonya Kubo (14:26.691)
Like I’m having to do all these mental calculations and he’s telling me this and I’m like, yeah. That’s how you go to the grocery store.

Kathi (14:31.826)
Yeah, right. Yes, I we all want to do the fun parts of a job. I love the picking out the apples when there’s no budget. I love you know, I love like what pre-made meal are we going to get today? But when there’s a budget, we don’t get to do that. And, you know, I have to I have to figure out like when we go to town, it’s not just going and buying the food, it’s making the list.

Tonya Kubo (14:43.492)

Tonya Kubo (14:51.003)

Kathi (15:00.942)
combining it with foods that we already have here. You know, what’s about to expire, so we need to eat that up for like, we do not give humans enough credit, just in the simple act of feeding ourselves how hard that is.

Tonya Kubo (15:14.083)
Well, and Kathi, you mention a lot that you live rurally, but what you leave out, and I think it’s important for those listening who don’t live rurally, but not only everything you just said, but see, you can’t afford to make a mistake in writing your grocery list or inventorying your pantry, because when you get to the store and you come home, it’s for many families who live as rural as you do.

Kathi (15:30.273)

Tonya Kubo (15:41.995)
It’s a one to two times a month visit into town. It’s not a weekly visit. And so it’s like, okay, well, if I forget something, I’m living without it for a whole stinkin’ month.

Kathi (15:45.471)

Kathi (15:51.874)
Right. Yeah, because I’m not paying and I’m not exaggerating here, $15 in gas to go get the thing. Yeah. And, you know, I also have to be prepared the day before. I have to make sure that the blue ice is frozen because I can’t be carrying that stuff around in my car. I have to make sure that we have the ice pack there. If I’m going to take something to the dry cleaners to get mended or something like that, that has their…

Tonya Kubo (15:58.528)

Tonya Kubo (16:08.611)

Kathi (16:20.158)
is so much that goes into it. And I don’t know that Roger really understood that. Now, I will also be fair, I don’t understand the mental load that he is under in different areas around our house. But I do know that whereas his is more special occasion, mine is every day. Like it’s every day feeding the people, yeah.

Tonya Kubo (16:41.575)

Tonya Kubo (16:44.935)
Well, it’s just difference. And I think it’s fair to say, I mean, read any, like, read what? Like, women are like spaghetti, men are like waffles, like any of those couples Bible study books. And they’ll all tell you that men’s brains compartmentalize one thing at a time, and women’s brains see connections everywhere. So that is why, as we’re making the grocery list, we can think about like, oh, good golly, next Thursday is the Valentine’s Day party or the Easter party.

Kathi (17:05.004)

Tonya Kubo (17:14.743)
and we’re going to have to have cupcakes and little Jimmy’s allergic to fruit. So he needs a special cupcake. Right? Like Brian would have that thought the morning of the school party. Oh, did we get the special cupcake? Not because he’s a bad person, not because he doesn’t love our kids any more than I do, it’s simply because for him there’s two time zones. There’s now, there’s not now. Next Thursday is not now.

Kathi (17:21.74)

Kathi (17:25.098)
Right, absolutely.

Kathi (17:29.474)

Kathi (17:38.558)
Yeah, yeah. Yes, exactly. Okay, so how do we have these discussions in a respectful way, but also in a way that impacts change? It was really interesting when we were having this conversation with Clutterfree for Life. We were talking about, is it easier for your partner to be at home or away on a trip?

And I, you know, it’s such a clarifying question. My life is harder when Roger is gone because I’m letting the chickens out. I’m, all those kinds of things. My life, Roger’s life is harder when I am gone because I’m cooking the meals and everything. I think for most households in America, it can be set, I’m not saying all, it’s not all men. I get this guys, please.

Tonya Kubo (18:13.903)

Tonya Kubo (18:18.617)

Tonya Kubo (18:35.751)

Kathi (18:37.866)
But it’s easier when our husband is traveling than when he’s home. But it’s not easier when mom is traveling than when they’re home. And I just, I think, at least I would say that’s true for people my age. And so, and I know there’s some change coming up, but it’s not as fast as we’d like it.

Tonya Kubo (18:55.344)

Tonya Kubo (19:02.067)
depends. I mean, I remember when I was traveling with mops and a lot of the women had never left home before. And I mean, their phones were getting like blown up all the time, right? Like, where’s this and what about this and what about that? And what I noticed the difference is the women who got all the calls and the women who didn’t, where the women who didn’t get the calls were the women who were like, look, as long as

Kathi (19:09.707)

blowing up. No.

Tonya Kubo (19:28.375)
all the kids that I left alive are still alive when I get home, it’s good. Then the dads felt free to solve the problems, right? And some of those moms went home and like the sink was disgusting and all the laundry was dirty and their kids ate McDonald’s all week. But the other moms who were like, they had like a plan or they didn’t have a contingency plan for when they were gone, it was like that.

Kathi (19:37.866)

Tonya Kubo (19:56.675)
So I think how, you know, the real question is like, how do you start the conversation in a respectful way? I don’t recommend doing what I do. Don’t throw a temper tantrum. I threw an adult-sized temper tantrum, several times actually, before I realized that rather than coming at the conversation from I do all this, I’m losing my marbles over here, I, and you never, and da, was to simply, when I made that recognition that I was tired and exhausted.

and I wanted a break and guess what? It wasn’t that I deserved a break and he didn’t, it was that I was envious of the breaks, of the rest I thought he was getting. And so I approached it simply from, I don’t want you to do more than you already do, but I need to do less. So how do we make that happen?

Kathi (20:37.783)
Yeah. Yep.

Kathi (20:47.742)
Right, and here’s what I’ll say about your mops example. I would be okay coming home to that sink full of dirty dishes if when I got home, we were both working on it together. But if I’m going away and getting punished because I’m going away, no bueno. And so I feel like one of the most important sentences

Tonya Kubo (20:53.38)

Tonya Kubo (21:01.845)

Tonya Kubo (21:05.226)


Kathi (21:15.854)
to be able to start this conversation is, okay, this is how we’ve lived before, but this can’t work for me anymore. And I like what you said. I don’t want you to necessarily work harder, but I need to rest more. So how are we gonna get to that? And I really love the book, Fair Play, because it enumerates what actually takes

has to happen in order for things to happen. Like going to a birthday party is not just going to the birthday party. It’s, do you have something clean to, I’m talking if you’re taking your kids going to a birthday party. Do you have clean clothes to wear that are appropriate for the activity? What is the activity? Who’s going to be the adult in charge? Do I trust that adult? Do we have a birthday present for this child that we’re going to? Does that need to be wrapped?

Tonya Kubo (21:46.311)

Tonya Kubo (21:58.052)

Kathi (22:15.702)
Are there other things that we need, if my child has allergies, how do I communicate that with, I mean, it can be a 20 item list. And I know that there are some parents who would say, you’re making this more complicated than it needs to be. No, actually, we’re not. No.

Tonya Kubo (22:23.748)

Tonya Kubo (22:27.079)

Tonya Kubo (22:36.111)
No, it’s just you do it on autopilot. So the problem with mental load where people misunderstand and it’s just like my grocery shopping example. When Brian’s like, Tony, I have to do all this. I’m like, yeah, we call that grocery shopping. Because for me, that’s one task. It’s all lumped into grocery shopping. For most people, it’s like, well, you’re just going to a birthday party. But if you want somebody to help you, you can’t just assume they know all that. You have to list out every aspect of preparing for the birthday party.

Kathi (22:42.446)
Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Kathi (22:47.798)

Kathi (22:55.286)
Yeah, no.

Kathi (23:08.25)
Yeah, and so we need partners is what it is. And they don’t have to take over everything, but they may have to take over some things that they have not had to take over before. And to be able to say, like I said, I don’t need you to work more, I just can’t be working as much as I am. And so that either means that you’re going to have to take on, learn some of these things, take on the load.

Tonya Kubo (23:12.553)

Tonya Kubo (23:28.226)

Kathi (23:35.774)
or we’re going to have to get some help. And both of those are great options. But if you are stressed, if you’re not falling asleep at night, if you are feeling resentment, I’m guessing it’s mental load friends. So to have the conversation to say, this is how we’ve lived up until now, and I cannot continue that way anymore.

Tonya Kubo (23:38.509)

Tonya Kubo (23:42.567)

Tonya Kubo (23:55.429)

Kathi (24:03.454)
I would love for us to come to a solution together. You know, Roger got asked to change something about the lighting at church. Somebody was upset because the lights were in their eyes in the congregation. And so the person in charge said, Roger, we can’t have lights in the audience anymore. And Roger was really frustrated because he said, I understand that we need to solve this problem.

Tonya Kubo (24:16.838)

Tonya Kubo (24:32.007)

Kathi (24:32.31)
but you came to me with a verdict and didn’t ask for help with the solution. And there are lots of ways we can approach this. I’m a lighting expert, we can figure this out. And so to have the conversation and say, not saying you have to come up with everything yourself when you’re having this conversation, but here’s the end result that I need. I don’t need you to unload the dishwasher.

Tonya Kubo (24:43.931)

Kathi (25:01.586)
I need to not have to unload the dishwasher every single time. And there’s a lot of ways that can be accomplished.

Tonya Kubo (25:06.307)
Well, you know what? Yeah, I mean, what you’re really bringing up reminds me of, I think what ends up happening is we jump to a solution, like there is only one way to solve this without getting really clear or accurately communicating the problem. So, I know a lot of couples, it’s like I kill myself cleaning the house, the house,

Kathi (25:18.78)

Kathi (25:26.987)

Tonya Kubo (25:36.031)
is in complete disarray or I hire a housekeeper. Those are the only three options they see. When if they approached it with, I actually only am able to tidy up one hour once a week. And one hour a week is not enough with six kids and this and this and this. What else can we do?

Kathi (25:43.957)

Kathi (25:57.448)

Tonya Kubo (26:01.807)
Then you open the conversation to other people going, well, maybe Ike do an hour one day a week. And Ike, I mean, that’s what we do all the time here in this house is, you know, clutter free is 15 minutes a day. Everybody has their own 15 minutes a day to do. And guess what? The house gets an hour of attention. Not always in the places I would put my attention, but guess what? It’s not me. So it’s great.

Kathi (26:18.359)

Kathi (26:24.887)

Yes, it’s fine, yes. Tanya, we wanna be able to continue this conversation and we are going to do that over in our Facebook group, Clutter Free Academy, Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy. We’re gonna put some dates and times down in the show notes. We would love for you to be able to join us and we’d love to hear your ideas too because we don’t have all the answers. We have a lot of questions, we don’t have all the answers.

Tonya Kubo (26:35.576)
Yes, we are.

Tonya Kubo (26:43.413)

Tonya Kubo (26:48.366)

Tonya Kubo (26:55.335)
I was gonna say, here’s what I would love, is I would love people’s thought, like if you’re listening right now and you’re like, oh my gosh, I have questions, I have thoughts, I want them, email them to us. We will give you the best email address to reach us at here in the show notes, but email us and we will use that to formulate the agenda and actually really talk about not just how to start the conversation, but what are some good tactical approaches?

Kathi (27:04.51)
Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Kathi (27:24.638)
Yeah, because we want to solve this. We don’t want to just complain. We want to solve this. And we want to make life better for everybody in our house. Tanya, thanks for being with me today.

Tonya Kubo (27:33.961)
Thanks for having me and being willing to have this conversation. This is a tough one.

Kathi (27:36.966)
Yeah, we are going to keep having this conversation too, because we need to. Friends, you have, you’ve been the most important part of this conversation and we want to hear your thoughts. You’ve been listening to Clutterfree Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now, go create the clutter free life you were always wanted to live.



#611 How to Deal with the Mental Load Part 1

#611 How to Deal with the Mental Load Part 1

611 – How to Deal with the Mental Load Part 1

Do you ever feel like you have to be the woman who does it all and are failing miserably? Join Kathi and her guest, Clutter Free Academy champion Tonya Kubo, as they discuss the concept of mental load and working that “third shift.” They’ll talk about:

  • Why lack of available brain bandwidth is not the same as laziness
  • The reason “I should” isn’t really helpful
  • Dividing household responsibilities without resorting to outdated stereotypes

Sign up here to be notified when the second part of this episode is released.


The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home

Homesteading [hohm-sted-ing]
1. an act or instance of establishing a homestead.
2. the act of loving where you live so much that you actively ignore the fact that your house is trying to kill you on a regular basis.

For Kathi Lipp and her husband, Roger, buying a house in one of the most remote parts of Northern California was never part of the plan; many of life’s biggest, most rewarding adventures rarely are.

Kathi shares the hard-won wisdom she’s gained on her homestead journey to help you accomplish more at home, gain fresh perspective, and give yourself grace in the process. Here’s a handful of the lessons Kathi shares:

  • Prepare before the need arises
  • Everything is always in process, including us
  • Your best household solution is time and patience
  • You don’t have to do everything the hard way
  • Be open to new and better ways of doing things
  • A lot of small changes make a huge difference.
    Highly practical, humorous, and inspirational, The Accidental Homesteader will encourage you to live with more peace, joy, and contentment.

Order your copy of The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home here.

Links Mentioned:

Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live) by Eve Rodsky

Sign up here for Kathi’s newsletter or here to receive her Clutter Free Basics Kit!

Clutter Free Resources:

How do you divide the responsibilities in your household? Share your answer in the comments.

Let’s stay connected

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a note in the comment section below.
  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.

Meet Our Guest 


Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo is the illustrious and fearless leader of Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy Facebook group and the Clutter Free for Life membership program. A speaker and writer, Tonya makes her home in the heart of California with her husband, Brian, their two spirited daughters, and one very tolerant cat. Visit her at www.tonyakubo.com.


Tonya Kubo Picture

Kathi (00:00)
Well, hey friends, welcome to Clutter Free Academy, where our goal is to help you take small, doable steps to live every day with less clutter and more life. And we’re here for deep discussions today, but it’ll be fun, it’ll be fun, but it’ll be deep. And there’s hardly anybody I like having deep discussions with more than Tonya Kubo because I love her brain. I love her brain. Tonya, welcome back to the podcast.

Tonya Kubo (00:26)
Thanks for having me, Kathi

Kathi (00:28)
Well, I’m I who else could I have had for this discussion but you because you and I talk about this a lot But you really I mean you in social media are what introduced me to the subject of mental load And so before we go any further well, i’ll just say this You I was teaching in our paid group Clutter Free for Life and I started to talk about mental load And I would say At least half the women in there

Tonya Kubo (00:32)
Ha ha



Kathi (00:58)
had never heard the term. Or had never, maybe they had heard the term, but they didn’t know exactly what it meant. And we had such a rich conversation. And I thought, okay, well, this is something I need to be talking about more. And I’m gonna confess after you do, you kind of define it for us, some of the ways that my thinking has shifted. So.

Tonya Kubo (01:03)


Kathi (01:26)
Some of this are going, some people are gonna think that this is a very, how do I wanna say it? Kind of, I don’t know, scary topic? I don’t think it is. I think it’s exciting.

Tonya Kubo (01:36)
Oh, I mean, the thing is, is people will make, I think our listeners are our listeners and they’re gonna take it exactly like we take it. However, people like to make this political. People like to make this gendered, right? They like to make this like, like they like to assign all sorts of nasty labels to this conversation, but it’s a, yeah, but it’s a genuine conversation about the…

Kathi (01:44)


Men hating things like that. Yeah

Tonya Kubo (02:06)
limited capacity of each individual human. That’s really what this is about.

Kathi (02:10)
Yeah. So what is mental load?

Tonya Kubo (02:15)
Yeah, so mental load. So I like to describe the brain as a computer because it’s easy and honestly it is one, right? And so, you know, mental load is all of the stuff that you are having to think about, consider, and whether it is conscious thought or subconscious thought, it is all of the, it’s all the programs, right? It’s the 100 browser tabs open.

Kathi (02:20)
Mm-hmm. Yes.

Tonya Kubo (02:44)
on your computer at any given time that not one of those browser tabs is any big deal. One’s going to Gmail, maybe one’s open to Google, maybe one’s open to your bank or something, right? Like each of those websites is just a simple website, it’s not a big deal, but a hundred of them open at the same time has reduced the speed at which your computer can operate. And usually a hundred browser tabs open means you can’t even run a Zoom call.

because there’s not enough available, RAM stands for rapid access memory. There is not enough accessible memory to run Zoom without closing those tabs. So for us as humans, it’s all that stuff that pulls at our concentration, our focus, our energy, that prevents us or at least creates a limitation around how intentional our decisions can be.

how thought out, whether we’re actually thinking about all the, like thinking through an idea or we’re just going, yeah, whatever, that sounds fine. In clutter free space, right? It’s, oh my gosh, I’m thinking about this, I’m gonna do that, and I’m going through my mail, and it’s going, I don’t even have time to process the words on the outside of this envelope to know if this is junk mail or something important, so guess what? I’m just gonna put it here for now.

Kathi (04:03)

Yes, Lotta here for now. I get it.

Tonya Kubo (04:09)
Right, and it piles up over time. And then I look at that pile and I go, gosh, I’m so lazy. But in the reality is there are so many decisions in that pile and I have to have some available brain space in order to make them in a thoughtful way that makes sense. So that’s mental load in a nutshell.

Kathi (04:16)

there a lot.

Yeah, so why this can be a gender discussion, I will use myself as an example. I remember growing up in the 80s and being told things like, your husband worked so hard. I got married in 1990. Your husband worked so hard. So it’s your job to make sure.

that when he gets home, he feels well taken care of, that you are not leaving a lot of things for him to do. Now, what didn’t pop up in that conversation was that I was also working. And, or, you know, before that I was home with the kids, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And that in the 80s and 90s, and I’m sure before then, and I’m sure after then, that…

Tonya Kubo (05:01)

Kathi (05:25)
the house was considered, you know, the home was run by women, but catered to men. And I think that’s where a lot of the angst with our discussion last week in Clutter Free for Life came, because there’s this real hold over kind of feeling that if we are good wives, if we are good Christians, then we, you know, the biggest compliment we can be given is I don’t know how she does it.

Tonya Kubo (05:32)


Kathi (05:54)
I don’t know how she does it. And she doesn’t do it. Or you know, it’s, so was that your experience growing up? Or you know, how did this discussion start to happen for you?

Tonya Kubo (05:54)

Well, so for me, it’s a bit different, right? Because I grew up in a single parent household and not very many people that, not very many adults that I interacted with were married. My mom was a single mom who surrounded herself with other single moms. And there was a lot of community activity because they were all a bunch of single moms just trying to survive. So, but you know, so my, all of my understanding of

Kathi (06:25)
Oh, interesting.



Tonya Kubo (06:42)
married with children relationships came from television. So it was even more unrealistic than you can, because honestly like 1980 sitcoms, right? Dad’s an idiot, mom knows everything. And I don’t know how the house gets clean because it’s always clean, but nobody’s ever cleaning on the show.

Kathi (06:47)
Oh, interesting.



Alice it was Alice. Okay that I’m a little older than you Yes

Tonya Kubo (07:05)
It’s a little bit before, yeah. Right, but yes, oftentimes there was some kind of domestic help in the picture because it’s all wealthy families that we’re watching, right? Until Roseanne came out, there was no working class family on TV. So I had the same lack of realism in my life, but also when I came into adulthood and, you know,

Kathi (07:15)


It’s so true. Yeah.

Tonya Kubo (07:34)
wanting to get married and all that stuff, I’m looking at how do I not have a failed marriage? How do I not do this? And I encounter all those books that were written in that time that you were coming up that talked about how I needed the house to be welcoming. I remember reading like older books about like, you can’t have, the kids shouldn’t cry. If you have to feed them candy before dad comes home, you should do that so that the kids aren’t crying because no man wants to come home after a hard day of work to crying kids.

Kathi (08:02)
Yes. The book I read said you should be sauteing onions as your husband comes home. It didn’t matter if you were cooking onions for a meal, you should just be sauteing them because it would make everything smell better.

Tonya Kubo (08:04)
And, you know, go ahead.



Okay, what if he didn’t like- I’m just like, what if that poor man didn’t like onions or was allergic?

Kathi (08:21)

Well, that’s true too, but you just wanted the impression that something was cooking, you know, get ready for it.

Tonya Kubo (08:30)
Yeah, no, I get it. So for me, it was this idea that women were supposed to do everything, were not allowed to complain, and if anything broke down in the household, it was on them. Now, because I grew up in a single home, a lot of that stuff didn’t make sense to me, and I just didn’t understand. Like I understood if your husband worked outside the home and you decided that…

working inside the home was your role. And when I say working inside the home, I mean being a wife and a mother is your role. That is your profession. Like that division of labor kind of made sense to me a little bit, right? But I never understood how if both people worked full time, right? Like how did the rest of it happen? And it was the 1980s when that, I think it was an article that came out called The Third Shift, where they started to talk about

Kathi (09:10)


Tonya Kubo (09:28)
how women had to pull this third shift in the parenting and the caregiving responsibilities, but it still wasn’t quite thought about like it is now. So then you fast forward, see, I’m 46, but I’m kind of an old mom for where I live. I didn’t become a mom until my 30s. And I’m pretty much, most of my friends started having children in their late teens.

Kathi (09:38)

Tonya Kubo (09:54)
So, you know, their kids are all grown and out of the house. So they, I think most of them had the same concept as you. So I do think it’s fairly like, it’s relatively new. I think where mental load, I think you discovered it in the book, Fair Play, right? So you discovered it in the book, Fair Play, where I really found more people talking about it was when I started speaking on neurodiversity in marriage. Because, go ahead.

Kathi (10:09)
Yes. Yeah.

Okay, I want to I want to come back to that we need to take a quick break, but I want to come back to that and I think Uh, I think it’s going to be interesting to hear how that

Tonya Kubo (10:24)
Yeah. Oh, sure.

Kathi (10:34)
brought itself forward for you and how you were able to have those discussions in a really healthy way. So we’re gonna go and have a quick break, and come right back.

Okay, we’re back with Tonya Kubo. We’re talking about mental load. We’re gonna talk about neurodivergence and mental load. And how did you start to have those conversations with Brian? I think that’s really interesting.

Tonya Kubo (10:57)
Okay, well, so, you know, Brian was raised in a very non-traditional environment, like, because his mom, they lived out in the country, his mom drove quite a bit to go to work, and they lived on the farm where his dad worked. So his dad would come in and cook lunch for the kids. His dad, you know, cooked dinner oftentimes because he was done with work before Brian’s mom was. So…

Kathi (11:16)
Interesting, yeah.

Tonya Kubo (11:24)
there wasn’t really, like we definitely had our own expectations of what like a good wife was and a good mom was, but I, you know, I had much higher expectations of what that was. But one of the things that I discovered early on in our marriage is we go to couples groups and we fought the most coming home from a couples group than we ever fought any other time. And it’s because we’re going to couples groups and we’re studying a book on marriage, right? And

Kathi (11:29)
Mm-hmm. Yeah.


Tonya Kubo (11:52)
what a good wife does and what a good husband does. And I’m trying to do all those things and Brian is not happy with any of it. How dare he? And I remember one fight, one fight, I was just like, we’re like reading the book, right? And he’s like, and it was like, okay, when the wife does this, the husband feels this, right? Was the book. And you know, when the husband does this, the wife feels it. So he’s like, you do that. And I’m like, uh-huh. I’m like all proud of myself, right? Like he’s gonna see Kathi.

Kathi (11:55)

How dare he?

Oh, okay.

Yeah. Right.

Tonya Kubo (12:21)
how amazing his wife is. And he’s like, you do that. I’m like, uh-huh. He’s like, you do that. I’m like, uh-huh. And he’s like, I hate that. And I’m like, what? He’s like, wait. And he’s looking at the, like the guy feels column. And he’s like, wait, is that what you think? I think? And I’m like, well, that’s what the book says. That’s what all husbands like. And he’s like, no, I hate all of them. Make his plate.

Kathi (12:35)

Yeah. So give us an example. You do the, oh my gosh, okay, yes.

Tonya Kubo (12:51)
When a wife, so like the book didn’t say anything about cooking dinner, but it talked about how men really like acts of service. And one thing that you can do, a mistake that women make, a mistake that moms make specifically, because we love to beat up on moms. A mistake that moms make is mom will make the kids plates first, then make dad’s plate, and then make her plate. And what mom needs to do is make dad’s plate first. He is the head of the household.

Kathi (13:14)

Tonya Kubo (13:21)
and then make dad’s plate, make her own plate because the kids need to see that mom and dad are more important than they are. And then you make the kids’ plates and then everybody sits down and eats. So I started making Brian’s plate. And it was just me, Brian and Lily at the time, right? So I’d make Brian’s plate, I’d make my plate, make Lily’s plate, not a big deal. Didn’t take extra time really. But Brian was always like, hmm. Like you could just see, I mean, you’ve met Brian.

Kathi (13:37)

Tonya Kubo (13:50)
like not a mad guy ever. Right. But I could just tell he would be like, thanks. So his thing. So he was, he hated me making his plate. Kathi like absolutely hated it made him feel like he was five years old. So he didn’t appreciate that. And I was like, but, but like, why? Like I am actually doing this because I love you. And then he’s like, because Tonya Hughes, I feel like you are deciding what I get to eat.

Kathi (13:53)
No, never.

Oh, interesting.

Tonya Kubo (14:17)
Like, who are you to say whether I get three pieces of broccoli or four? Who are you to say whether I get half of a chicken breast or a whole chicken breast? I’m an adult man. I can make my own plate.

Kathi (14:23)


Tonya Kubo (14:31)
I was like, all right, say no more, go make your own plates, sir.

Kathi (14:32)
So, yeah, Brian, you’re not feeling how you’re supposed to feel. So you started to have these conversations about when you do this, it’s not the feeling you think it is. And I know Brian well enough to know he was very appreciative of a lot of things you were doing, but that he was expected to have a feeling that he didn’t have.

Tonya Kubo (14:43)


Kathi (15:02)
was probably very frustrating for him. Yeah.

Tonya Kubo (15:02)

Oh, definitely, definitely. And then there were things like, things that were really important to me that he didn’t appreciate. He did not appreciate me soaking dried beans to cook beans from scratch. He did not appreciate me cooking every meal from scratch. Cause for Brian, he just wants to eat food. And if I bought McDonald’s every day, he’d be perfectly happy. That’s not everybody’s dynamic.

Kathi (15:26)

Right, it’s not. Uh, s- Yeah.

Tonya Kubo (15:32)
But we had other issues, right? Like, I mean, and so for us, I just wanna kind of fast track the story a little bit. So it’s not the Tonya show because it’s actually not the Tonya show. It’s the Kathi Lipp Clutter Free Academy show. But he was diagnosed with ADHD at 40. And by that time I stopped enrolling us in couples groups. We stopped trying to do all of that because it was clear that wasn’t working for us. And that felt…

Kathi (15:38)
Mm-hmm. Yeah. Hmph. Ha ha ha. It’s all good.



Tonya Kubo (15:59)
Like we felt kind of fish out of water. Like we couldn’t really talk about what was working in our house because it was so different from other marriages of the people we knew. But then when he was 42, so I would have been in my late 30s by then, we ended up with couples counselor. And she looked at me one day and she said, do you think he has ADHD? And I said, yeah, but what does that have to do with what we’re talking about? She’s like, every complaint you have is tied there. And it was in that.

Kathi (16:05)

Tonya Kubo (16:26)
I can’t explain it, Kathi, but it was two things. One was when, like she gave us some resources and realizing the divorce rate in marriages where one partner has ADHD was astronomical. And like that was very sobering to me. So seeing that, and then also in just evaluating like what an ADHD brain needs.

Kathi (16:47)


Tonya Kubo (16:56)
It was completely opposite of those stereotypical gender roles. And so that gave me permission, because it did, it started with me, but it gave me permission to redefine our marriage and our entire household operation based on what worked for us and not based on what other people told us we were supposed to do.

Kathi (17:01)


Okay, I love this conversation so much. And some of you may be thinking, well, my spouse isn’t neurodivergent. So mine isn’t, you know, Roger says he’s probably on the spectrum somewhere. But, you know, never had a diagnosis. It’s, you know, he’s a pretty typical guy. But I remember when we got married, that

Tonya Kubo (17:47)

Kathi (17:48)
You know, I was all about we’re gonna do the typical We’re gonna do that. I want to be the best kind of wife. So i’m going to do the things in fact, I wrote up Yes By the way, I wrote a book on it And yes, which I stand Yes, exactly

Tonya Kubo (17:59)
A++ all the way, Kathi Lipp, A++.

Yes, you did. So we can all see what a perfect wife you are.


Kathi (18:12)
I stand by most of that advice, but you know what? If we’re not learning things after 10 years and not changing our mind, we’re not evolving as humans. But I will say this, that I can see why I was very frustrated in a lot of respects in my first marriage, because the expectation was that I was going to pull that third shift.

Tonya Kubo (18:19)

Kathi (18:39)
And where my first husband did help out, I think more than the average bear, it still was not equitable. And I felt like a failure all the time. I felt like a failure all the time, because I wasn’t doing what I assumed all these other women were doing. And that was so frustrating for me, because I’m like, I don’t know how to work more. I don’t know how to work harder. I don’t know what to do more.

Tonya Kubo (18:44)



Kathi (19:08)
And in our next episode, we’re going to talk about some of those things. But I want to talk about, you know, how do we have these conversations? And, you know, Roger and I have a classic example of, um, we were both trying to serve each other. So I was doing the dishes each night and he was cleaning up the kitchen. And, um, you know, I wanted credit for doing the dishes each night because that’s the worst job in the entire house. And I don’t know how we got into this conversation.

But he said, actually, I don’t mind doing the dishes. I hate cleaning up the kitchen. I’m like, what? I love cleaning up the kitchen. And so we made this swap. Now, here’s what I know. I’m saying that sentence, and there are a lot of women who are listening who are planning the meals, doing the inventory. Right. Cooking the meals.

Tonya Kubo (20:00)
I was like, who are getting no help in the kitchen whatsoever?

Kathi (20:06)
cleaning up from the meals, doing the dishes. And they can’t understand why their house doesn’t, isn’t running perfectly. And I have really changed my thinking. You know, you and I just did a series of one-on-one consultations with a lot of people and some other people did too, with Clutter Free Academy. And I finally had to get to the core of it with some of the people I was meeting with.

Tonya Kubo (20:09)


Kathi (20:34)
I’m like, you don’t have a clutter issue. This is a relationship issue or a division of responsibility.

Tonya Kubo (20:42)
Well, it’s also mental load. I mean, like, and I know we’re gonna get more about that, but one of the one-on-ones I had, you know, the person kept saying, well, I should this and I should that, and I have no excuse. And I had to stop them and just kind of say, it sounds like you’re really hard on yourself. And they were like, yeah. And I said, so you talk about yourself like this a lot. And they were like, yeah. And I’m like, and so if that was working for you, we wouldn’t be on this call, would we? And they were, they kind of stopped. And I was like, okay, so can we just try something different?

Kathi (20:45)
It’s exactly, yes.


Tonya Kubo (21:11)
and I had them walk me through and Kathi, like they walk me through what they do. And I’m like, I’m exhausted. Like it does not shock me that their house looks like, their house looks in a way that is not tolerable to them because I can tell you that the way my house would look if I was trying to do all that, that would probably break a health code or two, I’m sure. I’m sure it would break a health code or two.

Kathi (21:17)


Yeah. And most of us are trying to do all the things. And, cause we wanna be known as the, I don’t know how she gets it all done woman. But, but here’s the problem friends. If you don’t know how somebody’s getting it all done, they probably aren’t. So we’re gonna come back next week. And Tonya and I wanna give some, I wanna do two things. We wanna talk about, I believe you called it insourcing and outsourcing.

Tonya Kubo (21:38)



Kathi (22:03)
Correct? And I wanna talk about how do you have these conversations with the people you live with? Because I think that is what our group is most interested in hearing. And we’re gonna figure out how to start those conversations in a healthy and respectful way, but we’re gonna get it done, friends. Because I don’t want people I love living like this, working harder.

Tonya Kubo (22:03)
Mm-hmm. Yep.




Kathi (22:32)
and feeling more behind all the time. Tonya, thanks for having this conversation with me.

Tonya Kubo (22:32)

Thanks for inviting me.

Kathi (22:38)
And friends, thank you for being here for this. You’ve been listening to Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp Now, go create the clutter free life you were always designed to live.


#608 Should You Declutter When Life is Just too Much?

#608 Should You Declutter When Life is Just too Much?

608 – Should You Declutter When Life is Just too Much?

A life-changing event happens like a new job, a new baby, a change in health, or any number of circumstances. You find yourself struggling with what to do with items in your space and wondering if this is a typical response.

If you have ever felt like that, this episode has the encouragement and strategies you need.

Join Kathi Lipp and her co-host and Clutter-Free Champion Tonya Kubo as they deep dive into decluttering when life feels overwhelming. Tonya recently lost two family members in a short period. She discusses how she helped her extended family deal with sentimental items while acknowledging that everyone has a different timeline when it comes to sorting through these items. Kathi and Tonya give helpful insights into decluttering when life feels like it is just too much with thoughts such as:

  • Circumstances may change, but the clutter challenges are the same.
  • Permitting yourself time to just sit with the items is okay.
  • How the definition of clutter changes based on life transitions.

Sign up here to be notified when the next episode is released.

As Kathi mentioned in the episode, she has a free resource for you! Receive your Checklist for Decluttering When Moving or Downsizing by signing up for her newsletter here.

The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home

Homesteading [hohm-sted-ing]
1. an act or instance of establishing a homestead.
2. the act of loving where you live so much that you actively ignore the fact that your house is trying to kill you on a regular basis.

For Kathi Lipp and her husband, Roger, buying a house in one of the most remote parts of Northern California was never part of the plan; many of life’s biggest, most rewarding adventures rarely are.

Kathi shares the hard-won wisdom she’s gained on her homestead journey to help you accomplish more at home, gain fresh perspective, and give yourself grace in the process. Here’s a handful of the lessons Kathi shares:

  • Prepare before the need arises
  • Everything is always in process, including us
  • Your best household solution is time and patience
  • You don’t have to do everything the hard way
  • Be open to new and better ways of doing things
  • A lot of small changes make a huge difference.
    Highly practical, humorous, and inspirational, The Accidental Homesteader will encourage you to live with more peace, joy, and contentment.

Order your copy of The Accidental Homesteader: What I’ve Learned About Chickens, Compost, and Creating Home here.

Favorite Links:

Sign up here for Kathi’s newsletter or here to receive her Clutter Free Basics Kit!

Clutter Free Resources:

 Has your definition of clutter ever had to change due to life circumstances?

Share your answer in the comments.

Let’s stay connected

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a note in the comment section below.
  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our newsletter now.

Meet Our Guest 


Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo is the illustrious and fearless leader of Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Academy Facebook group and the Clutter Free for Life membership program. A speaker and writer, Tonya makes her home in the heart of California with her husband, Brian, their two spirited daughters, and one very tolerant cat. Visit her at www.tonyakubo.com.


Tonya Kubo Picture

Well, hey friends, welcome to Clutter-Free Academy where our goal is to help you take small, doable steps to live every day with less clutter and more life. And I am here with the co-captain of the Clutter-Free community. It is Tonya Kubo. Hey, Tonya.

Tonya Kubo (00:44.182)
Hey, Kathy.

Kathi (00:46.653)
And can we just say we have to give Tonya extra props because she’s been sick I don’t know for the last month and We’ve had to reschedule this a couple of times not just not just because you’ve been sick But we were about to hit record a couple of weeks ago and your power

Tonya Kubo (00:54.943)

Tonya Kubo (01:06.974)
Yes, my power went out twice that day.

Kathi (01:11.485)
Let’s be clear, when Kathy’s power goes out, we’re like, well, that’s just a Tuesday. But when Tonya’s power goes out, and you know what? I’m just gonna say something here real quick that maybe some, this might be of help to some people. Roger just got diagnosed with sleep apnea and he has to wear a CPAP. So yes, I am sleeping next to Darth Vader every single night now, but it’s really helping him. But because of that,

Tonya Kubo (01:16.404)

Kathi (01:39.797)
In the state of California, we’ve qualified for a program where we can get Tesla batteries on the side of our house absolutely free. Where the Tesla batteries absorb the power at the cheapest rate and then put out the power when we most need it. And to get these Tesla batteries is almost $2,700, no, $27,000, excuse me, $27,000. And there’s a California program where we get them for free now.

Tonya Kubo (01:58.358)

Tonya Kubo (02:04.354)

Tonya Kubo (02:10.242)
That is amazing. I know a lot of people with CPAP, so that’s huge.

Kathi (02:10.433)
So, isn’t that?

Yeah Yeah, so I know a lot of our listeners are not in California But we also have a decent amount because you and I both live in California and a lot of people that we’ve spoken to and met So that has nothing to do with it. Well, maybe it has something to do with today’s Because here’s the thing that’s a life change for Roger and I have to tell you the first thing he did God bless him. He gets the CPAP machine. He goes I need to declutter my side of the bed because now

Tonya Kubo (02:43.232)
It’s big.

Kathi (02:43.489)
It’s not a huge apparatus, but it takes space, especially on his nightstand. So that’s something we need to consider.

Tonya Kubo (02:48.396)

No, that is true. That is true. Brian had a CPAP for a while and his was huge. I’m not gonna lie. His took up the entire surface of the nightstand.

Kathi (02:58.135)

Kathi (03:02.501)
Oh dear. Yeah, that makes for an interesting bed partner, doesn’t it? Okay, but yeah, what we’re talking about today, let’s just dive right into it. Tonya, you spent a lot, we both did, we spent a lot of time talking to people in our paid group, Clutter Free for Life, about what their biggest challenges were, how we could help. In our paid program, we do a 15 minute free consultation with everybody who joins.

Tonya Kubo (03:07.698)
Yes it does.

Tonya Kubo (03:20.174)

Kathi (03:30.933)
so that they can ask us the questions that are just for their circumstance. What I came to find out, and I wonder if you did too, is when they said, this is really unique to me, it was never really unique to them. Because the circumstances may change, but the challenges are the same. That was my biggest takeaway.

Tonya Kubo (03:44.29)
That is true.

Tonya Kubo (03:49.502)
Right. Well, and I felt like for them, that was probably like, because I would always ask people at the end of our time, I would say, what was most helpful for you here? And every single one of them would be like, the fact that you knew what I was talking about, and the fact that you said that I’m not alone.

Kathi (03:59.845)

Kathi (04:04.92)

Right, right, absolutely. Yeah, it is huge. I would say you got this situation more than I did, but I did get it some, is that people felt like their clutter got so much worse during a big life change. And I was trying to think, did that happen to me? And I was like, yeah, it absolutely did. When Moose was diagnosed with cancer,

Tonya Kubo (04:09.535)
was huge.

Kathi (04:37.185)
I have to say for about six months, I cared very little about the state of my house. I cared very little about what was going on around me. Like guys, I’ve gotten better, but I spent so much time just hanging out with her because we didn’t know what her life expect, all that kind of stuff. But after about six months, I’m like, okay, I don’t want to continue to live like this. And fortunately, I have the tools in my back pocket to be able to say.

Tonya Kubo (04:53.771)

Kathi (05:07.317)
Okay, here’s how I recover from this. But have you been through something like that in your life, Tonya?

Tonya Kubo (05:14.806)
Definitely. I mean, I think raising children, like by itself, like even not under extreme circumstances, but every phase of life brings a huge transition that involves clutter in some way. And then of course, as you know, we lost my mom very early in our decluttering journey, but that had a big impact. For us, the most recent was losing Brian’s sister.

Kathi (05:18.735)

Kathi (05:30.062)

Kathi (05:41.461)
Yeah, way too young.

Tonya Kubo (05:41.822)
And I’ll share a little bit about this only because it made, it really seemed to have a profound impact on the people I spoke to one-on-one. When we lost Brian’s sister, it was really interesting to see how grief or how coping with grief is different for each person. For her husband, they had sold their home when the pandemic started and they were building their dream home.

Kathi (06:01.198)

Tonya Kubo (06:09.05)
And then she was diagnosed not too long after. So they had this rental that was really wrapped up in her illness that they had been living in. It really was a sick home. And so her husband really threw himself into decluttering because he wanted out of that rental home. Like there was just all sorts of bad memories. But there was this other piece of him.

Tonya Kubo (06:37.206)
What I recognized is he was so worried that there was something that was special or precious to the family that he didn’t know about. Like he didn’t know why it was precious. He didn’t know why she was keeping it because quite honestly, nobody expected to lose her at the age of 44, right? So these are, like he knew she had bins and boxes and stuff in the garage, but he never thought to ask why.

Kathi (06:54.753)

Kathi (07:02.753)

Tonya Kubo (07:02.806)
So he starts going through this stuff and he wants to give it to Brian’s mom. He wants to give it to us because he’s like, I don’t wanna be responsible for it, right? And it was really soon for Brian’s mom. Like in some ways, I mean, cause that was hard for her, right? Cause she’s just lost her daughter and now she’s being like given all this stuff. And so Brian and I had a conversation. I just said, look, if he calls you and says, hey, do you want this? Just say yes.

Kathi (07:13.387)

Kathi (07:17.763)

Kathi (07:31.897)

Tonya Kubo (07:32.998)
We have a decluttering system in place in our home. We have a garage. We can say yes to everything, and we can deal with it later. Because the family dynamics are such, nobody expects us to keep everything forever. So we’re good there. So I said, you just say yes. Our priority was to make the decision easy for him and to trust that we had the emotional bandwidth and the space and the maturity that we could take it from there.

Kathi (08:02.917)
What a gift to him. Even if he didn’t know, what a gift.

Tonya Kubo (08:09.042)
So, yes, and it did make life so much easier, but of course that means that we very quickly had a filled garage with all sorts of random stuff.

Kathi (08:17.302)

Right, right. Well, so let me ask you, yeah, let me ask you because a lot of people are dealing with the loss of a loved one and having to deal with their stuff. I did with my dad as well. And, you know, we went through a process where there was a first layer of like, okay, we can just donate this or trash it or whatever needs to happen.

Kathi (08:48.029)
And then there was a second layer of like, okay, does anybody in the family want this? And then the third layer of, um, we have to decide if this is the memory we want to keep of my dad. And so it was a three layer process for us, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for everybody. What was it for you, Tonya? Or, or have you gone through the stuff yet?

Tonya Kubo (09:10.542)
Also, multi-layer process, yes, because a lot of it was Brian’s dad stuff. We did not realize how much of Brian’s dad stuff Megan had taken until Megan was gone and Jeremy was like, I know this was from your dad, but I don’t know much more. But like one was, it was like, oh, I have a bunch of your dad’s shirts.

Tonya Kubo (09:35.454)
and they were really special to Megan, but the boys didn’t know your dad, so the boys don’t really understand. And so I told Brian, yeah, we’ll take those. We can make a quilt out of them or something. Well, it turned out they weren’t work shirts, like Brian thought. They were racing jerseys. His dad used to race motocross. Motocross jerseys do not make good quilts, by the way, just so you know. It’s just not a good fabric, right? So Brian was like.

Kathi (09:58.996)
No they do not.


Tonya Kubo (10:04.566)
What do I do with this? And I said, well, for now, we let it sit in the garage. And I mean, it was like, I don’t know what you call this, but you know when you go to like Marshall’s and they have the clothing racks that are on wheels?

Kathi (10:15.121)
Yes, yes. Rolling racks. Okay.

Tonya Kubo (10:16.57)
I mean it was on those, yeah those rolling racks. It was like a whole rolling rack of shirts. So that’s still in my garage. Still don’t know what to do with it. But I also don’t feel like that’s a decision I have to make today. I have the available real estate, it’s fine. Now her classroom stuff, she was a teacher, Brian is a teacher. So her classroom stuff, it was very easy to process through all that.

Kathi (10:21.001)
Mm-hmm. Okay.

Kathi (10:30.262)


Kathi (10:38.902)

Tonya Kubo (10:44.106)
We said yes to all of it, then Brian went through and was like, oh, I could use this, and then we have teacher friends. So for us, that was the first layer. And of course, as you know, Kathy, the first layer is always the least emotionally connected layer.

Tonya Kubo (11:01.766)
Very easy to release classroom stuff, work stuff, right? But imagine how much space, I mean honestly that classroom stuff was taking up more space in my garage than those work shirts or than those racing jerseys are.

Kathi (11:06.274)

Kathi (11:16.905)
Yeah, it makes so much sense. And you know, I think these big life transitions, it’s either we’re going to something new, or we’re letting go of something. And so we’re going to take a quick break, we’re going to come back. And I want to talk about what are some steps that we can do in these transitions, whether we’re going towards something. And even when you’re going towards something new, you have to let go. And I’ll talk a little bit about that.

But, excuse me. But we’re gonna take a quick break and come back to give some really practical steps of what you can do. So hang with us friends.

Okay, friends, we are back and we’re talking about what are the really practical steps when you’re going through a big life transition. This could be a marriage, it could be a death, it could be a birth, it could be kids leaving the house, it could be a divorce, it could be, there are a million different things that, job loss, new job, moving, if I didn’t say that before, and I think that was one of ours.

that was really tough. We had, we moved from San Jose to the mountains. Well, we had just redone the San Jose house. And can I tell you, it was gorgeous. It was exactly, it was everything I wanted it to be. But.

Tonya Kubo (12:40.159)
It was. I visited it. It was beautiful. That bathroom, Kathy. That upstairs bathroom.

Kathi (12:48.985)
It was phenomenal, right? It was phenomenal. Okay.

Tonya Kubo (12:50.746)
Yeah. I just need you to hear me tell you that it was beautiful. You did a great job.

Kathi (12:57.401)
Thank you so much, thank you. Every once in a while I go back and look at the Zillow pictures. I just loved it so much. And, but here’s the thing, I love my new house too, but two completely different styles. Both my style, this one is more rustic, cabernet, that kind of thing. The one in San Jose was more like teals and had a little bit of gold, which sounds weird, but it’s actually, it was gorgeous. And.

Tonya Kubo (13:07.853)

Kathi (13:26.029)
Uh, but I couldn’t really take the San Jose stuff to the summer sect. And so I have to tell you, it was a process of letting it go. A couple of things I did, which isn’t going to work for everybody, but some of that stuff that I had in San Jose, we, we also have some space at my mom’s house. So I decorated that space with some of the stuff, like the rugs and things like that, that I just loved.

We also have an RV that we put some of that stuff in. Our kids came and took some of the stuff that was really important to them. But I think the best thing that I did with that transition was just saying, we’re going into a new life and I don’t wanna be carrying this. So we put a few things on Freecycle or Facebook Marketplace.

Tonya Kubo (14:17.27)

Kathi (14:23.009)
And we just did free because we had a short turnaround time to move. And this one young couple, they, they finally said, we’re just waiting for your ads to come up because we love everything and we have nothing. And so I just said, uh, okay, here’s the deal. I’m, I’m going to put a post-it note on everything in our house that we’re not taking and you can take it if you want.

There was not one post-it note left after all of that. They said, the woman, they had only been married for six weeks, they were sleeping on their floor. And we basically, in some ways, furnished their whole house. Because of course we had a bigger house than their one bedroom apartment. But there was a purpose.

Tonya Kubo (14:52.609)

Tonya Kubo (15:01.455)

Tonya Kubo (15:09.407)

Tonya Kubo (15:13.355)

Kathi (15:16.677)
And it wasn’t even decluttering, it was giving away huge massive things that were important to us. But I think most of us as cluttery people, if we knew the people things were going to, we would give them the shirt off our back and the racing jersey as well. So, you know, it is, when we know that it’s for a higher purpose.

Tonya Kubo (15:22.861)

Tonya Kubo (15:42.098)

Kathi (15:42.241)
So maybe the higher purpose is to lighten your load. Maybe the higher purpose is to help somebody else. What do you feel like were the lessons you’ve really learned and taken away through Megan’s death, through your father-in-law’s death and your mom’s death?

Tonya Kubo (15:59.642)
Yeah, so something you just said really resonated with me, which is clutter. You had said, you know, it’s not really decluttering. It was releasing things that just we loved, but we had no use for. And I think the big thing with these life transitions, and I think part of what makes them so hard, so emotionally difficult to journey through, is it redefines clutter for us.

Kathi (16:15.301)

Tonya Kubo (16:29.098)
Because see, typically we say clutter is something I don’t love, it’s something I don’t use, it’s something I wouldn’t buy again. And these life transitions introduce this new definition which is, this is something that I love and I would use, but for whatever reason, given the circumstances that we have, that’s not possible right now. And it doesn’t make sense.

Kathi (16:52.397)
Oh, Tonya, that’s so good.


Tonya Kubo (16:56.354)
to keep it because I don’t know when it’s going to be possible again. So going back to the one-on-one conversations that I had with some of our members, there were a lot of people I was talking to who either had some kind of major medical event. So maybe they had a child born with some very extreme medical needs. One of them had an injury or an illness that required, say, in-home health care.

Tonya Kubo (17:24.73)
anybody who’s listening who has had any experience with in-home health care knows that it’s like they bring a u-haul of medical equipment to your house right and it doesn’t matter little babies older adults it’s not always a hospital bed but sometimes the hospital bed and oxygen tanks and feeding tubes and all of these things and those things get added into this house that was already full even if it wasn’t cluttery it was full it was functional

Tonya Kubo (17:54.678)
You have this period, like you don’t want to get rid of your old life. Those things brought you joy, but there’s not room for that in the hospital bed. There’s not room for that in the ventilator or whatever else. And so something I saw my brother-in-law do that I didn’t, like I remember going, hmm, about it when he was doing it. Like they had just gotten a brand new bed and he called us up and he said, hey, by any chance, do you guys want a new bed? And we were like, and we had actually been looking for a new bed.

Kathi (18:04.29)

Tonya Kubo (18:22.89)
We’re like, yeah, like, do you want us to buy it off of you? He’s like, no. He goes, we’ve had it for three months. We love it. He goes, but I don’t, I would have to go up in size to the storage unit that we’re looking at getting in order to fit it. So that doesn’t make sense. He’s like, and I, they tell us Megan’s going to be better in 10 months, but I don’t know that she is. And when she is better, this bed may not be comfortable for her. So I think it just makes sense to get rid of it now. And I don’t think.

Kathi (18:23.214)
Oh wow.

Kathi (18:36.409)

Kathi (18:44.349)

Kathi (18:50.504)

Tonya Kubo (18:53.11)
my cluttery heart would have had that kind of like logical thought process that Jeremy had. I mean, he was he’s so like wise. I don’t even think he knows how wise he is. But I thought, wow, that is really like that’s just wisdom right there to go, hey, it’s not that I expect to be here forever. But I know that when I’m not here, life is going to be so different that the stuff that’s working now may not work then.

Kathi (19:21.797)
As soon as you’re saying, I’m going to have to go up in size on the storage unit, it’s time to reconsider everything. Yeah, when we sold our house in San Jose, we said we are keeping this storage unit for a month. For a month. You know, because this is stuff we want to bring to the house, but we can’t bring it all at once. And we kept that promise. I was really, really proud of us.

Tonya Kubo (19:29.722)

Tonya Kubo (19:38.957)

Kathi (19:52.165)
turns into a year, turns into five years. But we need to make our lives lighter because we can make better decisions when our life is lighter. You know, you and I just had a circumstance this, like today, where you were supposed to come to my house, you can’t, so Roger and I are like, you know what? You know me, if I could, I would adopt every goat.

Tonya Kubo (20:00.27)

Kathi (20:21.729)
every dog, every cat, everything. But we have fewer chickens now because that’s just what happens to chickens sometimes. It’s the circle of life. And we have a dog and we’re like, you know what? Tonya can’t come here. We’re gonna go to Tonya. And it’s because we have lightened our life. And sometimes that’s through circumstances we would not have chosen.

Tonya Kubo (20:29.326)
because that’s the circle of life.

Kathi (20:50.189)
but we are intentionally keeping our lives lighter so that we can do the things we wanna do. And that’s something we wanna do. What do you think is the most important thing that somebody can take away from this conversation? Especially after seeing how wise Jeremy has been and how you don’t wanna repeat the sins of your mother and you have this different example. What would you want somebody to take away from this conversation?

Tonya Kubo (20:52.578)

Tonya Kubo (21:13.816)

Tonya Kubo (21:19.722)
Well, I think for me the biggest is that certain life transitions do warrant a new definition for what clutter is. What’s clutter today?

Kathi (21:32.073)
I think that’s so wise.

Tonya Kubo (21:35.814)
may not have been cluttered five years ago, and it may not be cluttered five years from now, but because you don’t know that, it makes sense and it is smart and it is wise to treat it like the clutter it is today.

Kathi (21:38.657)

Kathi (21:51.477)
It’s not that the thing is clutter, it’s that the item in the midst of today’s circumstances is clutter and something that you need to lighten your life. This has been such a great conversation, Tonya. Thank you so, so much.

I just think this is exactly what we need to hear. Because when we buy things, we’re like, oh my goodness. This is the most important thing. And I’ll always love it. I’ll always want it. And then job changes happen. And we live in a time now where if you need to furnish your house for free, you could pretty much do it. Because.

Tonya Kubo (22:47.566)

Kathi (22:49.413)
It may not be with the stuff you want. And so we have to decide, do I love it? Do I use it? Would I buy it again right now? Right now, I think that that’s a great question to ask. And one of the things, guys, if you’re part of our newsletter community, we are going to be publishing this week a checklist for decluttering when moving or downsizing. And so,

Tonya Kubo (23:00.086)

Tonya Kubo (23:14.774)

Kathi (23:16.377)
We want you to, if we’re gonna put all the information so that you can become a part of our newsletter community so that you can have that resource for the next time you’re going through something, whether it’s moving or you just need to downsize, whatever that is, we’re gonna give you that checklist to help you make decisions in, because when you’re moving, you’re already having to make a thousand decisions, let this eliminate another thousand.

Tonya, thanks for being on today.

Tonya Kubo (23:46.85)
Thanks for having me.

Kathi (23:48.565)
And friends, thank you for being here. You’ve been listening to Clutter-Free Academy. I’m Cathy Lip. Now, go create the clutter-free life you were always intended to live.