#620 The Ministry of Presence: Supporting Loved Ones Through Depression

#620 The Ministry of Presence: Supporting Loved Ones Through Depression

620 – The Ministry of Presence: Supporting Loved Ones Through Depression

Hey friends, today’s episode is a powerful and important one. But be advised, it’s also a sensitive subject. Kathi Lipp will be diving deep into the topic of depression and suicidality with her dear friend and author Chris Morris.

You’ll hear how Chris hit his lowest point and the transformative experiences that followed. He opens up about the pivotal moments that set him on a path of healing and the vital role his wife and community played in that journey. Whether you’ve personally battled depression or suicidal thoughts, or you’ve walked alongside a loved one facing these challenges, Chris’ story and insights offer hope and practical wisdom, such as:

  •  How to come alongside someone struggling with their mental health
  • The importance of finding the right therapist, and it might not be the first one you find!
  • The importance of communicating effectively and clearly that they are needed and loved

This episode will move you, challenge you, and ultimately inspire you to show up for those you love who might be struggling in ways you can’t fully understand. So grab a cozy spot, and let’s dive into this powerful conversation together.

Interested in more of Chris Morris’s story?
Click this link. Resilient and Redeemed: Lessons About Suicidality and Depression from the Psych Ward
And sign up for his newsletter at chrismorriswrites.com

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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.

How has Chris’s vulnerability in sharing his story impacted your own understanding and perspective on mental health challenges?

Share them 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 


Chris Morris

Chris Morris is a certified mental health coach dedicated to promoting understanding of mental health issues within the church. Because of a lifelong struggle with depression and suicidality, Chris became committed to breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health and encouraging others to seek after holistic health.

As a writer and speaker, Chris has shared his personal story and insights with audiences across the country, inspiring many individuals to take control of their own health, break free from poor theological teaching placed upon them, and seek the support they need. He has published several books on mental health, the most recent being Resilient and Redeemed. His work has been featured in a number of media outlets, including CrossWalk, The Mighty, and Fathom Magazine.

Visit him at chrismorriswrites.com

Follow Chris on social media: Facebook @chrismorriswrites and Instagram @chrismorriswrites 

Tonya Kubo Picture

Hey friends, welcome to Clutterfree Academy. Today I am having a beautiful and important conversation with my friend Chris Morris, resilient and redeemed. We’re gonna be talking about some pretty tough topics about depression and suicidality.

Friends, if those are triggering for you, you may want to skip this episode or you may wanna listen to it with a friend or a family member who’s safe. And if you’ve got little kids in the car, cause I know a lot of you listen to this podcast when you’re on your way or back from school, you may wanna listen to this at another time. Or if you just need to skip this episode altogether, hey, we will be back next week talking about your clutter. But I just wanted to give you a heads up. It’s a great conversation, but I also know I want you to feel safe and I want you to know what’s coming up. So please listen to my conversation with Chris Morris.


Kathi (00:00.861)
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 am very excited to dig deep into this episode. I am here with one of my good friends and savior in some ways, because he also does our taxes and keeps me out of jail. So I am deeply appreciative. It’s Chris Morris. Chris, welcome to the podcast.

Chris Morris (00:39.886)
Thanks for watching!

Chris Morris (00:45.986)
Thank you so much for having me, Kathi.

Kathi (00:48.113)
Oh, Chris, I have been looking forward to this. We’ve had this on the books for a while because you are an expert. I would say, I don’t know if you would call yourself a reluctant expert, but we’re talking about mental health today and some of the aspects of that go with Clutter. But could you just tell us a little bit about your journey into becoming, to writing on the subject to sharing about this and opening up your own story.

Chris Morris (01:20.91)
Sure, I guess the first thing I’d say is that I am maybe not an expert in the way that you could consider it on the one hand, because I am not a psychiatrist, I’m not a social worker and I’m not a pastor, but I am an expert because I’ve been dealing with depression and suicidality for the last 30 years. So reluctance is a great term to add, because I certainly wouldn’t wish that on anyone, including myself.

Kathi (01:30.465)
Right? Yeah.

Kathi (01:38.434)

Kathi (01:44.781)
Right. Yes. And yeah.

Chris Morris (01:47.606)
But I started writing about it because I realized that a lot of people, myself included at times, have gotten stuck specifically in our faith and in the ability to make forward momentum. And over the last four or five years, I’ve figured some of those things out for myself. I can’t promise that what I figured out is will work for everyone, but I’m in a much better mental space than I’ve been in a long time.

Kathi (02:11.696)

Kathi (02:15.841)
Well, and I feel like this podcast, yes, we talk specifically about clutter, but so much of what we talk about is hope, hope for change, hope for living in new and different ways. And I feel like the last four years of your life have been a huge reflection of that because you and I have been working together. And when I say you and I, you mostly work with Roger because the money part is scary to me and I don’t avoid it. Well, okay, I don’t embrace it.

But I am very grateful because you’ve helped Roger and I really figure out the money aspect of not just our business, but our home, all those kind of things. And you’re an incredibly talented person. But you’ve gone through some really big struggles in the time that I’ve known you and also have experienced some tremendous healing.

Chris Morris (03:13.138)
I have so probably the low point of my life in 2020. I know 2020 was rough for everyone, but it was terrible. For me, I actually had a suicide attempt. And I landed in a psych ward for about a week. Part of that time that I was there, I was angry that my suicide attempt didn’t work. And it’s sort of in a weird

twisted way it became one more thing that I was not good at. Oh great Chris you can’t even kill yourself properly. Which is really wicked frankly and pretty close to demonic.

Kathi (03:51.045)
It’s, yeah, right. It’s a very, very dark way, but.

I think, you know, so many of us, if we cannot relate to that particular portion of your story, we have had people that we love. We have had people that we’ve worked with or gone to school with. You know, suicide touched my life very early in that somebody I worked with when I was 16 took his own life.

And yeah, you know, and it, I think about the people who were close to him and the, yeah, I think about how much it affected me and, you know, we just knew each other. And so I think about, I think about not only you, Chris, but also your wife and your family and the people who love you like I do and how…

Chris Morris (04:22.542)
I’m sorry.

Kathi (04:51.325)
how heartbreaking that is. What I wanna do in this episode, and I’m so grateful that you are so honest and so raw about your story. I wanna talk to our listeners about if you are,

if you love somebody, if somebody in your family is in these spaces, how can we best come alongside? And one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you about this is the clutter where it is an issue for a lot of people, but for people who are struggling with their mental health.

this can also be a catalyst and a symptom. It can keep people down and it can be a real struggle. And so what I wanted to ask you about is, I know you have a wife who desperately loves you. I know you have a lot of people who care about you. And I wonder how can we come alongside somebody who is struggling so much in this area?

Chris Morris (06:08.142)
That’s a really important question. I’m glad you’re talking about this. Thank you for asking it. The biggest thing that my wife and I have learned through this process is just being radically honest. So, you know, even in marriages, we can get into that space. How was your day? Oh, it was fine. And we’re not answering very transparently.

Kathi (06:13.135)

Chris Morris (06:36.95)
You know, so sometimes it’s as simple as, well, you said it was fine. Are you sure? And then with my wife, yeah. I was very stubborn personally and my mistaken belief that I had my life put together pretty well when I really didn’t. So it took my wife.

Kathi (06:42.569)
Mm-hmm. Mm. But one more question. Yeah.

Kathi (06:57.873)
Okay, so what did that look like? What did that look like for you, that you felt like your life was together, but finding out it wasn’t?

Chris Morris (07:08.414)
Um, what it looked like for me in the context of where we’re going is asking that one more question didn’t accomplish anything. Like my wife would have to get almost aggressive with me. Like, Chris, you’ve not been yourself. And you seem really down. I know that you struggle with depression. Are you struggling with it right now? And that was Yeah, that was very hard for her.

Kathi (07:19.782)
Oh wow.

Kathi (07:32.548)
So being super direct.

Chris Morris (07:37.514)
She’s a middle child, so that means she doesn’t like conflict. And I’m an only child, which means I’m always right.

Kathi (07:41.815)

Kathi (07:47.292)
Oh, don’t you love how God knits these relationships together, right?

Chris Morris (07:51.634)
Yeah. So so it ended up I would love to tell you that they were all super happy conversations, but some of them were sort of aggressive. They were you know, we got in some arguments over it, where I was telling her I’m really okay. And she’s like, you’re really not. And she’d always she’d always source it or center it in her love for me. Over and over. She’d say, Chris, I want the best for you. And you’re not living your best right now.

Kathi (08:11.413)

Kathi (08:17.061)
So is that what you needed to hear? That you were deeply loved and she wanted more for you?

Chris Morris (08:26.43)
Yes. Yeah, there’s this there is at least for me or there was it’s less so now this intense fear that if I let people into the darkness that’s within my soul, they’re going to go, Oh, I don’t want any of that. So the best one of the best things my wife did was say, I’m committed to you no matter what. And I think there’s more for you.

Kathi (08:51.981)
Right, right. Mm-hmm.

Chris Morris (08:55.222)
But you have to, you have to want it. Let me help you want it.

Kathi (08:59.863)
Yeah. Were you seeing somebody at this point? Were you in therapy? What was the situation? Did you have somebody that you could be completely honest with?

Chris Morris (09:15.074)
Um, on and off, I’ll be honest with you, Kathi. I had a couple really, really bad experiences with counselors where they were actually adding to my trauma rather than helping me process. So in the, the darkest times, part of my problem was that I wasn’t seeking professional help.

Kathi (09:18.721)

Chris Morris (09:39.902)
and my reasoning somewhat made sense. I had someone who told me that my Christianity was a crutch and I was gonna be depressed as long as I continued to believe in God.

Kathi (09:50.094)

Chris Morris (09:51.742)
Right. So I looked at that and went, well, I don’t need that. And that’s not a wrong statement, but, but I did need counseling.

Kathi (09:56.957)
Right. No, it’s not a wrong statement. But two things, yeah, two things can be true at the same time. That was a wrong statement, but you still needed help. But that was not the help you needed, yeah. I find, yeah.

Chris Morris (10:05.951)

Chris Morris (10:09.79)
Yes, exactly. Right. So part of this too, look like my wife saying, I think you need to get into counseling again. Well, you remember the last time that happened? Yes, I do. But I still think you need to get into counseling again.

Kathi (10:20.599)

Kathi (10:26.829)
Yeah, and what I’ve learned is the first counselor isn’t always the right counselor. That sometimes it’s the second and third, but that has to be really hard when you are struggling so deeply to be persistent in that. I mean, you must have needed your wife’s support even more at that point. I don’t know. How did you, were you able to find somebody or is that still an ongoing struggle for you?

Chris Morris (10:34.485)

Chris Morris (10:57.934)
So after my suicide attempt, there were some things that happened in the psych ward that maybe we’ll get to, maybe we won’t. But there were some shifts that happened in the deepest part of my soul when I was in the psych ward. And I recognized that everything my wife had been saying to me about needing to find support and needing to produce change in my life and needing to have healthy habits.

Kathi (11:05.016)

Chris Morris (11:25.278)
All of those things did indeed have to happen or I was gonna end up in the same place again.

Kathi (11:30.805)
Right, right. And I will say, I, you know, just for my own mental health journey, I’ve done some online therapy. And one of the best things that I heard was, you know, you can, you know, you can be matched with somebody. And I wasn’t necessarily matched with a Christian. But it was somebody who

Kathi (12:00.719)
and believed that my faith was an important part of who I was.

And so that was a beautiful statement to me. I found the right counselor because I’ve been struggling with some situational depression and needed to see somebody for a few months and to have that option and be told, no, we honor who you are, including your faith was huge for me. We need to go to a commercial. I wanna come back.

Chris Morris (12:10.08)

Kathi (12:36.197)
And I want to ask you, Chris, about

How do you ask for the help that you need when you’re in that, or can you? And so I wanna explore that topic with you because some of us are coming alongside somebody, but some of us are the ones who are suffering. And I wanna ask you, you know, where, how did you get to the point where you could ask or maybe you didn’t? So I wanna go into more of your story there. We’re gonna take a quick break and we’ll be right back.

Guys, we’re here with author Chris Morris. His book is resilient and redeemed. Chris, can you give me the subtitle to your book?

Chris Morris (13:21.902)
Sure, it is lessons about suicidality and depression from the psych ward.

Kathi (13:28.421)
Yeah, okay. So you talked a little bit about that some things fundamentally changed for you while you were in the psych ward. You know, were you able to ask for help? Or was the suicide attempt? Was that the ask? I don’t know. I’m probably asking the wrong questions here, but I would love to hear your answer.

Chris Morris (13:53.362)
I don’t think you’re asking the wrong questions. I mean, how do you dive into, so how was the suicide attempt? That’s not an easy question. But that, cause that sort of sounds like how was the stake, but.

Kathi (13:59.089)
Yeah, how is-

Kathi (14:04.673)
Right, and I only left because you’re here and you’re with us and you’re you know You’re reaching out your hand back out to people who they are struggling and there are so many families who are dealing with this situation right now So how did you get the help you need? Did it have to come to it had to come to the psych ward? Didn’t it for you?

Chris Morris (14:27.942)
It really did. I was very stubborn and convinced that I was handling things okay. And the circumstances behind my suicide attempt and what happened when I was in the psych ward sort of laid the foundation for a different direction for me. Let me explain what I mean by that.

Kathi (14:46.983)

Chris Morris (14:48.138)
We immediately before my suicide attempt, we were as a family downstairs, having a good time watching some television show. And I had this random thought pop into my head that said, things are never going to get better. You should just go take those pills right now. And I didn’t process that. I was sort of so stunned that it came that I just sort of went with it. And I went upstairs, grabbed a bunch of pills.

and tried to kill myself by suicide. And, you know, I needed, when I came into a better place, I realized I need to make sure that the next time that thought pops into my head, because it’s gonna come again, I need to be prepared to manage that better. And what that looked like for me was needing to have

transparent relationships with three or four people who I know will be able to, at a moment’s notice, sort of drop everything and help me reframe things. I have that now in my life. Finding a counselor, I have that now in my life. And then the thing that shifted for me in the in the psych ward was a spiritual reorientation. I’m going to tell you a quick story here.

Kathi (15:53.713)

Kathi (16:11.353)
Yeah, please, yes.

Chris Morris (16:13.822)
So I was sitting in the psych ward watching a cinematic masterpiece, something like Rambo 17. Yes, yes, life changing stuff. And I felt this quickening in my spirit, like God wanted to say something to me. I didn’t know exactly what he might want to say to post-suicidal psych ward Chris. But anyway, couldn’t say it well.

Kathi (16:21.285)
Something with deep meaning to you. Yes, go ahead. Right.

Chris Morris (16:39.562)
while sliced along was blowing up the world. So I went into my room, and I sat down and I just waited. And I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to me almost like an audible voice. It wasn’t but almost like that clear. Chris, I still love you. And I and I and I argued with him. You don’t understand who I am and what I’ve gone through and how dark things are. I don’t even love me. You can’t love me. And I was ready for an argument.

You know, it’s never a good thing when you think you’re going to argue and win with God, but that’s a side point. Instead of engaging me in that, the Lord just repeated himself. He said, no, Chris, I still love you. And it hit different for me the second time. And it’s like something shifted in my spirit in a really deep way. If the creator of the universe who knows better than anyone else exactly how messed up I am.

Kathi (17:09.485)
Right. Yes.

Chris Morris (17:37.13)
is still willing to engage with me and still see something worthwhile that maybe I ought to as well. So that’s sort of part one of the restoration of my soul. Part two came the next day, my pastor came and visited me. I I’ve had a lot of gaslighting in my life from pastor so I was super nervous. I almost didn’t show up. Because I’m like I

I don’t think I can handle one more person tearing me down one more time. I’m already in a psych ward. I can’t, but it can get worse.

Kathi (18:07.53)
Right. Oh, absolutely. Yes.

Chris Morris (18:10.682)
And we small talk for a little bit, you know, how’s the food? It’s fine. Are you enjoying yourself? What? He didn’t ask that question. I’m kidding.

Kathi (18:19.67)
I was like, oh, he needs some training. OK, good. He did not ask that question.

Chris Morris (18:24.063)
No, we just small talk for a while. And then I saw his posture change. And in my, and internally I went, Oh no, here it comes. Here’s where he’s going to tear me down. But he didn’t. Instead he said, Chris, we can’t have this happen again. God’s not done with you yet. And our church needs you. And those two things helped me understand not only is not only was he affirming what

Kathi (18:30.243)

Chris Morris (18:49.482)
had happened through the Holy Spirit the other day, but he was telling me, you have a home and we miss you in this home.

Kathi (18:57.789)
To know, to say, we want to know you more deeply, and you’re needed is huge, is huge. And that’s what you needed to hear, is what you’re telling me, is that you were wanted and you were needed. And yeah, I think sometimes we forget.

Chris Morris (18:58.21)
deeply transformative.

Chris Morris (19:06.733)

Chris Morris (19:17.002)

Kathi (19:22.941)
to show up for our friends, for the people that we love in that way and say the simple things. And you talked about your three or four friends. I call that my short sucker list. If I’m, it doesn’t matter where I’m at, at 2.30 in the morning, I’ve got a handful of friends who won’t ask a question, but will show up and just, you know, because they know I need them. And we all need that.

that short list in our lives. Chris, there are people who are listening right now who are going to deal with, they know somebody who is hurting right now. What do they need to tell that person that they love so deeply, who are struggling so much, that they are needed and they’re wanted? What else did you need to hear?

Chris Morris (20:21.654)
I’m gonna go someplace weird to give you an answer to this question. I’m going to go to the book of Job and his friends. No, normally when Pete, when you talk about Job’s friends, you think about, well, once they open their mouth, all sorts of stuff, we’ll use the word stuff. I could use other words, all sorts of stuff tumbled out of their mouth. That was really unhelpful and really harmful and really hurtful. But the first thing they did.

Kathi (20:23.709)
Please, please.

Kathi (20:27.946)

Kathi (20:39.94)


Kathi (20:46.809)

Chris Morris (20:52.338)
is amazing. And it’s the best thing that anyone could have done for Job in the midst of his tremendous, terrible, unbelievably awful circumstances. They came and they sat with him and they mourned with him for a week and they didn’t say anything. They offered him the ministry of presence.

And I think that is something that so many hurting people desperately need. That’s something that I desperately needed and still need sometimes for someone to come alongside. What that looks like sometimes is this menu situation really stinks. I don’t have an answer for you, but I’m here for you. I’m here to listen. If you want, if you want, I can grab some pizza and we can watch a movie. You know, I just want to be with you.

Kathi (21:39.61)

Chris Morris (21:48.978)
and acknowledge that what you’re going through is hard, and that there aren’t easy answers for it. And that’s important because a lot of times as Christians, we feel like we have to defend God for the circumstances that our friends find themselves in. And that never goes well.

Kathi (22:05.533)
Mmm. Ah.

It’s so true. And we all want to be that person who says the magic thing that makes it all better. And there is no magic thing. There’s nothing. There’s nothing we can say to, you know, you look at Job’s circumstances. He lost his family. He lost, you know, he lost everything. There was nothing to be said, but you’re right, that ministry of presence to just say, you are worth spending time with, you are worth.

Chris Morris (22:19.447)

Kathi (22:37.329)
loving you are worth mourning with it. You know, I feel like, you know, we have, as I think Americans, we have. And sometimes as Christians, we don’t have the right rituals around these really hard things. We don’t know how to show up.

Chris Morris (22:59.159)

Kathi (23:02.373)
And to realize, you know, it took me until my 50s to realize that, you know, when my friend’s parent dies, even if I didn’t know the parent, I show up and mourn with them. I’ve lost nothing, but the person I love has lost so much. And I don’t know why it took me so long to really understand and realize that.

I think just because you show up for people that you know who died, but to come alongside, I guess it was in my 40s that I figured that out. But I hate that you’ve gone through this. And I love that you’re reaching a hand back to help others to say, people are going to go through this. And we need to figure out how to be present for them.

Chris Morris (23:46.626)

Kathi (23:58.237)
Um, Chris, I would love your most practical advice for the person who loves somebody who’s going through this. What, what is the, is there, you know, is it the suicide hotline? Is it grief grocery? Like, what is your most practical advice?

for somebody who’s going through this when you need to show up for a friend. I love the ministry of presence. Is there something really practical we could do as well?

Chris Morris (24:35.81)
That’s a tough question because every person is sort of wired a little bit differently. Um, I, I think it comes back to some of what we’ve already talked about. The idea of communicating as.

directly and as clearly as possible. Hey, I’m for you and I love you, not because of the specifics of how you’re built necessarily. Like I don’t love you only because I think you’re well put together right now. I love you because of who you fundamentally are and no circumstances are gonna change that. My…

Kathi (25:14.547)

Chris Morris (25:23.638)
My friend Mary says it this way, no matter what, I’m always on Team Chris. And I love that language of being on Team Chris.

Kathi (25:29.249)
Yes, I love that.

Kathi (25:34.173)
Team Chris, oh, 100%. Let me ask you one last question. You went through this and how do people show up for the people you love when you’re in this crisis? How did you want people to show up for your wife, for your family?

Chris Morris (25:58.638)
Don’t worry. You know, I’ll be honest.

Chris Morris (26:06.238)
My wife carried the lion’s share of the load through the darkest times that I had. And for her, it was…

you know, simple things like not saying how can I help, but people showing up with a mop and a brush and saying I’m, I’m going to clean your house because I know that having a clean house is important to you. Or show it or just bringing a meal, not being on a meal train, but just unexpectedly doing something and showing up. I think those were the moments that were really meaningful for my wife, Barbara.

Kathi (26:37.625)

Kathi (26:43.087)

Kathi (26:47.929)
and just saying it’s here. Okay, awesome. And Chris, how are you doing today? How’s Barbara doing today? How’s your family?

Chris Morris (27:00.362)
We’re in good shape. Still healing, but we’re in good shape. Yeah, healthier than we’ve been in a long time.

Kathi (27:03.042)

Kathi (27:07.033)
I’m so grateful to hear it. You guys, the book is Resilient and Redeemed by Chris Morris. And I’m going to encourage you to pick it up. I don’t normally say, could you go pick this up? But here’s what I know. If your family is not currently going through something like this, we just thank God. But there’s a family you love who is. And…

Chris Morris (27:09.014)
Me too.

Kathi (27:36.325)
Chris is gonna give you some spiritual applications and practical application and how do we maneuver and how do we love well through all of this. Chris, thank you so much for being on the podcast.

Chris Morris (27:51.658)
It’s been a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Kathi (27:54.209)
And guys, we’re gonna put the resources for how to stay in touch with Chris. If this is something that you or somebody you love is dealing with, he has an email list that I would love for you to get on and we’ll have the link to the book in our show notes as well. I know it’s a good, I’ve read the book, I love the book, and I can highly recommend. Well friends, you have been listening to Clutterfree Academy, I’m Kathi Lipp.

Go create the clutter free life you’ve always wanted to live.


#619 Decluttering Sentimental Items: Transforming Loved Items into Meaningful Displays

#619 Decluttering Sentimental Items: Transforming Loved Items into Meaningful Displays

619 – Decluttering Sentimental Items: Transforming Loved Items into Meaningful Displays

Welcome back, our sentimental decluttering friends!

In part 2 of the Clutter Free Academy series on decluttering sentimental items, Kathi Lipp and Tonya Kubo explore the art of curating and displaying emotional items in a meaningful way. Throughout the episode, they emphasize the importance of being intentional and selective in your curation process, ensuring that each displayed item truly reflects your heart and brings joy to your space. Listen in as they share insights and inspiration about sentimental items, such as:

  • How to transform your emotional clutter into beautiful, intentional keepsakes
  • How gallery walls, shadowboxes, and themed displays can be used to honor your loved one
  • How sharing the narratives behind sentimental items can enhance their value and significance.

With their insights and inspiration, you’ll be well-equipped to transform your sentimental clutter into beautiful, purposeful keepsakes. So, grab a tissue (just in case) and join us for this heartfelt conversation!

Did you miss Part 1 of this series? Here it is for you. #618 Decluttering Sentimental Items: A Step-by-Step Guide

Click here to be notified when the next episode of Clutter Free Academy is released.

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:

Click here to subscribe to our newsletter and access a copy of the Decision Tree for Letting Go of Emotional Items that Kathi mentions in this episode.

Clutter Free Resources:

Can you share some of your favorite creative display ideas for sentimental items?

Share them 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 Lipp [00:00:08]:
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 are back for part two of. Yeah, I think that we are going to be referencing this podcast over and over and over again in our free group, in our paid group. And just as people are struggling to, they don’t know what to do with their sentimental items, whether they were passed on from a loved one or something from your childhood that you are just having a hard time. Like, do I keep it? The song should I stay or should I go? Keeps going through my brain. And we’ve got somebody here who’s going to help us decide. It’s Tonya Kubo. Hey, Tonya.

Tonya Kubo [00:00:54]:
Hey, Kathi.

Kathi Lipp [00:00:55]:
Well, I just want to dive back into this conversation that we are having about getting rid of sentimental items. So you also think that we need to talk about the space and lifestyle considerations.

Tonya Kubo [00:01:11]:
There are some things that are absolutely ginormous, and there are some things that aren’t ginormous, but they’re bigger than the space you have. And so I think you have to think about, you know, does this item align with my current lifestyle and my current space? And, you know, if the answer to that is yes, then by all means, find a suitable place for it or repurpose it. So I think of, I didn’t do this. I got rid of it. But remember, when I bought this house, it came with everything in it, which sounded like a deal, until I realized that really, it was just a bunch of stuff that I had to take to the dump.

Kathi Lipp [00:01:51]:
But one of the things, including the stove. Right, right.

Tonya Kubo [00:01:54]:
I’m gonna talk about the stove.

Kathi Lipp [00:01:56]:
You know, I’m gonna talk about the stove. The stove is what I can’t forget.

Tonya Kubo [00:01:59]:
Yes, right. 1949 Wedgewood gas stove. I mean, the thing restored would have been gorgeous. And the family had driven three states over which we live in California. It takes a very long time to get to another state. This isn’t like going from Massachusetts to a neighboring state. So they’d driven to another state. They’d paid several thousand dollars, but they had to rent a vehicle cause it weighed a ton.

Tonya Kubo [00:02:25]:
Four grown men were required in order to lift it out of here. But when they turned this house into a rental, they put it in the garage. Critters had taken up habitants in there, but they were really caught up in, like, no, we pretty much gave you a $4,000 gift here. Like, we covered your closing costs with this stove. And I’m like, yeah, and I’m just, like, looking at it. But eventually we kind of got to the point where, I mean, we knew that we were going to sell it. Once we saw how heavy it was. We’re like, we’re not going to be able to get that into the house.

Tonya Kubo [00:02:57]:
No, we’re gonna sell it. We tried for three years to sell it. Couldn’t find a buyer. Now, if I had deep sentimental attachment and some skill, which I don’t have, by the way, let’s just be clear there. I could have probably turned it into, like, a really cool, succulent planner, right. Because it had, like, all these cool compartment y things, right? I could have done something really cool with that. I could have repurposed it into some kind of storage unit, because, again, it had these neat little compartment y things. I could have made it like a decorative fixture, right? I could have put some kind of, like, plastic acrylic thing across the top and made it almost like a coffee bar.

Tonya Kubo [00:03:41]:
I coulda, woulda, shoulda Kathi done a lot of things with it if it meant that much to me. But just telling you all the things I could have done with it makes this, like, anxiety bubble up in my chest. That makes me so grateful that I posted on Facebook free, but you gotta pick it up.

Kathi Lipp [00:03:59]:
Yes. And which, by the way, yes. We had somebody deliver just our. Our fireplace, and it about killed the two guys who were doing it. And your stove was so much bigger. So, like, I can’t even imagine. Yeah. So it did not align with your lifestyle.

Tonya Kubo [00:04:20]:
It didn’t.

Kathi Lipp [00:04:21]:

Tonya Kubo [00:04:21]:
But if it did, let’s just say I really was attached to it. Right? Like, I was the person who drove three states over to bring that into my house.

Kathi Lipp [00:04:28]:

Tonya Kubo [00:04:29]:
Then you know what I could have done? Like, I could have taken a picture of it, and now with AI, I could have uploaded that and had some warhol style, like, portrait made of it that I could have framed and put in my house.

Kathi Lipp [00:04:43]:

Tonya Kubo [00:04:43]:
There are ways to preserve the memory, the good feelings, without having to keep the thing if the thing is no longer practical for you.

Kathi Lipp [00:04:55]:
Yes. It’s so true. And, you know, I appreciate, like, we had a relative who put together a book of my mom’s family history, and I’m doing some genealogical research right now. And I’m so grateful, one, that I don’t have to keep all those pictures, and two, they’re available on ancestry.com. And, oh, my gosh. I mean, what a gift, right? So what are some other ways to. Okay, so AI could have taken a picture, some other ways that we could preserve things like that. You know, my dad’s paycheck is schlacked to a piece of wood, and it’s cute, and I love it, but I love the idea of taking pictures of things and putting that up in your house.

Kathi Lipp [00:05:46]:
I think that that’s a great way of doing it. I think one thing not to do is to say my kids have to take it. Cause I don’t want it, but my kids have to take it.

Tonya Kubo [00:05:59]:
Well, I think you can’t. Yeah. You can’t make anybody take it is my point. Because we see that with kids. We see that with siblings, right? I see that a lot in clutter free academy. Right? Like, I am the only one of my siblings who has a garage, who lives on property, and therefore, my siblings have all decided, I have to take this. And it’s like, you don’t have to have to do anything, actually.

Kathi Lipp [00:06:23]:
Right, right. No, I mean, we just had a discussion with Roger’s brother, who. He’s the oldest. He lived closest to everybody, and all the photos ended up with him. And he was feeling such tremendous guilt, and he said, I’m sorry, I have to give these to the other brother. We live on the other side of the country, and it’s like, no, there should be no guilt involved in this. You know, it’s. We can only do what we can do.

Kathi Lipp [00:06:51]:
And if it starts to weigh down your life, I’m hoping that your parent, your relative, your grandparent, that’s not the legacy they wanted to leave for you. Okay, so you’ve answered no to all these things. Like, no, it doesn’t fit my lifestyle. No, it’s not super sentimental, but I think my mom would be really upset if she found out I threw away this cookbook or. How do you get past that feeling?

Tonya Kubo [00:07:25]:
Well, that’s. I mean, that’s really hard, right?

Kathi Lipp [00:07:29]:

Tonya Kubo [00:07:30]:
Because. Well, you know. Cause first of all, it’s like, okay, so is mom alive or dead? Because people. I mean, and I’ve even been that way. Right? Like, I held onto a lot of stuff after my mom died because my mom would have a fit if I got rid of it. And, you know, there was a point where I was like, okay, how long am I gonna make decisions based on fear of my mother’s ghost haunting me? Right? And, I mean, I can laugh about that now because I’m talking about my relationship with my mom.

Kathi Lipp [00:07:57]:

Tonya Kubo [00:07:57]:
I would never laugh somebody else. But no, you know, if it’s no. All the way down and your concern is what other people will, think what you’re really saying is you’ve got a boundary problem. Right. And we’ve talked frequently in past episodes about how clutter is a boundary issue. But there’s a lot of, you know, boundary issues that we have in our relationships that manifest through stuff. And, like, all I can say is, I can acknowledge that it’s hard. I can also acknowledge that it’s not helpful for me to be like, we’ll just get rid of it.

Tonya Kubo [00:08:34]:
Right? I mean, your emotional connection with somebody is your emotional connection. But I do think there is a way of working through that. And part of that, I think, Kathi, is you have to separate the act of decluttering sometimes from the emotional thought. Work around the decluttering.

Kathi Lipp [00:08:55]:
Hey, Tonya. We’re going to take a quick break. We’re going to talk to our sponsors, and then we will come right back. Okay? We are back continuing our conversation with Tonya Kubo about sentimental and emotional items.

Tonya Kubo [00:09:10]:
When you’re holding the item in your hand, there’s a lot going on.

Kathi Lipp [00:09:15]:
Mm hmm.

Tonya Kubo [00:09:16]:
Right. Internally in your head. It’s exhausting. Sometimes what you have to do is you have to put that item down and come back to it another day. Or rather than coming back to it, just put that item down for now. Set a notification. I’m a big fan of 30 days from now. I’ll make that decision, but then actually schedule some time.

Tonya Kubo [00:09:35]:
Sit down, journal it, think through it, but, like, think through all the questions, and then, like, okay, so, like, if. If my mom were to find out that I got rid of this, and, like, would she actually say something? If we’re talking about my mother? Yes. Yes, my mother would have. Okay, if she said something like, what’s the best case scenario? What’s the worst case scenario? Like, walking through that. Because all those emotions are going to bubble up just as you’re thinking about these eventual cases. But you don’t need to also be holding the item in order to be working through that. That just adds more stress to the whole scenario. So separate yourself from the item.

Tonya Kubo [00:10:15]:
Go through the questions. Really think through, like, what’s the worst case scenarios? How bad can it be? Scale of one to four. How much can I tolerate these potential outcomes? And then once you make that decision, I’m going to give you a very unpopular opinion. Popular opinion would say, once you make the decision, go take care of it right now. I say, once you make the decision, close your notebook, whatever it is, take a deep breath, go reward yourself because you just did some hard, stinking work and come back to handling the item when you already scheduled yourself to handle the item, but you’ve done the hard work of the thinking?

Kathi Lipp [00:10:54]:
Yes. Okay. Yeah, I love that. It’s to process the emotion. And I think the thing I have to remind myself is my loved one is not in this item. I have a couple of things that, when I look at them, they make me happy, and we should only keep things around that make us happy when we look at them. And that another thing that I’ve had to do, a couple of, like, hard things I’ve had to do, is tell my kids, hey, you’ve got stuff here. If it’s sentimental to you, I need you to pick it up by this date.

Kathi Lipp [00:11:44]:
And if you can’t, if you choose not to, I’m okay getting rid of it. And that may seem really, really harsh, but it’s just not. If I can’t, I can’t be a caretaker for somebody else’s memories. Like, these things. These items mean nothing to me. And so we. That, and we had Jeremy at our house at 1145 one night going through stuff, and he picked out what he wanted, and he said, you can get rid of the rest. And that’s.

Kathi Lipp [00:12:17]:
That’s all we needed. The other thing that I’ve done before is saying, here is this item, extended family. If nobody wants it, I’m going to get rid of it by June 1. And because somehow, sometimes we are held by emotional blackmail by other members of our family, it’s not important enough for me to take, but you should keep it. And that is gaslighting. That is gaslighting in its finest form, to say you’re a bad person if you don’t do what I also refuse to do, and it’s just not true. If you can curate the things that are important to you, and only you can decide what’s important to you, don’t let other people decide what should be important to you, what feelings should be attached to things. It’s emotional blackmail, and we don’t do that around here.

Kathi Lipp [00:13:19]:
If we’re getting rid of clutter, we’re also getting rid of useless feelings.

Tonya Kubo [00:13:23]:

Kathi Lipp [00:13:24]:
And so to put a date on something and say, you know, and this happened with my mother in law’s stuff, my brother in law sent messages to Rogers and his stepfather’s family and said, hey, we’ve got this item. Does anybody want it? He didn’t hear back from anybody. And so three months later, he got rid of it. A year and a half later, somebody said, oh, I’d actually like that. He’s like, it’s gone. It’s gone. And here’s the thing. If it was really important, there’s a phrase going around, at least on TikTok.

Kathi Lipp [00:14:02]:
If he wanted to, he would. And what that means is, if they wanted that item, they would have acted on it. If they were. We can’t be healthy for other people, and so we have to have our own boundaries. And my brother in law felt guilty at first that he got rid of this item. I’m like, you gave them every chance in the world.

Tonya Kubo [00:14:25]:

Kathi Lipp [00:14:25]:
No, no, no. Yeah. We’re done. We live. We are deciding on our own health. Okay, Tonya, anything that you think we have not said that should be said on this subject?

Tonya Kubo [00:14:39]:
Yeah, I think so. I’m just gonna say three more things. Thing one, okay. Is. And this is the hardest part. So what I will say is, give yourself grace. You want to be as honest and objective as possible when you go through the decision tree. Okay.

Tonya Kubo [00:14:57]:
It’s hard. It’s going to feel hard. That’s okay. But, you know, be as honest as you can be. The other thing I will say is take breaks, which I already kind of talked about. Separating yourself from the item sometimes really is beneficial. And then this is the big one that I don’t feel like people like. Hear me when I say, but gosh darn it.

Tonya Kubo [00:15:18]:
Celebrate your successes along the way. Okay. Maybe you have a box of 25 things, and you were only able to part with five of the 25. Can we celebrate that rather than talk about how only five things?

Kathi Lipp [00:15:39]:
Yes, Tonya? I think as we heal, as we do the work, these items come in layers, and sometimes there’s obvious stuff. It’s like, oh, I never have to see this again. It’s fine. And then as we do the work, we become healthier and understand that our relationship is not in these items. We curate the things that were meaningful to us. We are not holding on to things because other people in our life say they should be important to us. And that decluttering that box may come. You may be able to declutter it the first day.

Kathi Lipp [00:16:24]:
It may take you years, and it’s okay. I will tell you this. When I finally take things out of the box and I get rid of six things, and then there’s this one thing. I’m like, you know what? I want that displayed in my house. I don’t want it to be in a box. I I want it to be someplace where I can see it every day and recall the good memories with this person I love. Or, you know, this animal like it. Part of my grieving and healing with Jake was putting that, you know, going and buying the candle.

Kathi Lipp [00:16:58]:
We do not have enough ritual in the United States of America around the death of loved ones. And I think sometimes creating that ritual, you know, finding the candle, and when somebody loses a pet, I send them candles that I think are going to be about the same size as their animal’s neck so that they can put the collar around it. Because there’s a ritual there that says, we honor this life that was so important to us, and that’s part of our grieving and that’s part of our sentimentality. And when I first looked at that after Jake died, I would cry every single time. And now it just brings a smile. And that’s what we want your house to do, is to bring you joy and to bring you peace as you look around. This was a deep conversation, Tonya, but I think it was a really good one. And I’m really grateful for you being here with me.

Tonya Kubo [00:17:55]:
Well, thank you for having me. This was a really. I hope this one is very helpful to our listeners.

Kathi Lipp [00:18:01]:
I hope so, too. And, friends, you have been here, and we’re so grateful that we can speak to you. 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.

#618 Decluttering Sentimental Items: A Step-by-Step Guide

#618 Decluttering Sentimental Items: A Step-by-Step Guide

618 – Decluttering Sentimental Items: A Step-by-Step Guide

Do you have a box (or two, or three) filled with sentimental items that you just can’t seem to let go of?

In this episode of Clutter Free Academy, Kathi Lipp, and Tonya Kubo tackle the challenge of decluttering sentimental items. They discuss the various categories of emotional clutter, from childhood memorabilia to inherited items, and share their personal experiences with letting go. Together, they offer a step-by-step decision-making process to help listeners navigate the emotional decluttering journey with confidence and clarity. Listen in as they how to ask questions and set limits on sentimental items in the decluttering process using:

  • Kathi’s “Five Item Rule” for curating sentimental objects, and
  • Tonya’s “Decision Tree” process for making decluttering choices

Click here to be notified when part 2 of this series, where Kathi and Tonya will dive even deeper into the art of curating and displaying sentimental items in a meaningful way, goes LIVE.

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:

Click here to subscribe to our newsletter and access a copy of the Decision Tree for Letting Go of Emotional Items Kathi mentions in this episode.

Clutter Free Resources:

How do you personally navigate the emotional challenges of letting go?

Share 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 Lipp [00:00:08]:
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 today, I am back with my favorite clutter free co conspirator. It is Tonya Kubo. Hey, Tonya.

Tonya Kubo [00:00:26]:
Hey, Kathi.

Kathi Lipp [00:00:28]:
Uh, I I’m excited about today’s podcast, and also, I don’t know, I feel prejudged. Let me just put it that way. I already feel like this is where I’m failing. This is. You know, I think we all have different areas of clutter that we struggle with. And weirdly, I’m not a very sentimental person. I don’t have a lot of, like, things from my kids childhood, things like that. But when there is something and I struggle to get rid of it.

Kathi Lipp [00:01:05]:
And I know that when we were doing our interviews with members of our paid group clutter free for life, you found that the majority of people are just like me. We’re all just like each other, that we struggle. So I would love to hear from you what people’s struggles were with these emotional and sentimental items and kind of the things that. That brought up for people.

Tonya Kubo [00:01:31]:
Yeah, well, so the struggles are. I mean, they’re varied, right? Just because we all have the same. The same core challenge, how it. The symptoms of that challenge are not always similar. So the sentimental items, something we’ve talked about a lot, right, are just like the ghosts of our past lives. So that’s the childhood memorabilia, whether it’s our own childhood stuff or our children’s stuff from when they were babies and such. There is the stuff that we have inherited. Right?

Kathi Lipp [00:02:06]:
So the.

Tonya Kubo [00:02:07]:
The ghost of past lives is both like childhood, but it’s college, it’s former professions. It’s the empty nester who used to homeschool, but they don’t want to let go of the homeschool curriculum because maybe their grandchildren could use it.

Kathi Lipp [00:02:19]:
What is it about homeschool curriculum?

Tonya Kubo [00:02:23]:
It’s expensive. That’s what it is. Kathi, as a former homeschooling mom.

Kathi Lipp [00:02:29]:

Tonya Kubo [00:02:29]:
You know.

Kathi Lipp [00:02:30]:
Yep, you’re right.

Tonya Kubo [00:02:31]:
When I was homeschooling, we had, you know, in our state, we had a thing called public charter schools that would help offset some of the expenses. But if you were homeschooling in the eighties and nineties, you were on your own, and.

Kathi Lipp [00:02:46]:
Yeah, no, that’s true. Right.

Tonya Kubo [00:02:50]:
So there’s that.

Kathi Lipp [00:02:50]:
So that’s true. I remember that. Yeah. Because we, you and I have both dipped our toe into homeschooling. And even though I bought a lot of curriculum used. It was not cheap.

Tonya Kubo [00:03:02]:
No, no. I mean, I remember there was one curriculum that was touted as the best for working families, and it was like $2,000 a year.

Kathi Lipp [00:03:12]:
So you just think, holy cow, right?

Tonya Kubo [00:03:16]:
If that’s you, Kathi, wouldn’t you want to save that just in case the off chance is that, a, you had grandchildren and, b, those grandchildren would be homeschooled maybe one day, kind of.

Kathi Lipp [00:03:28]:
I would want to save it in case I got pregnant at 56, like.

Tonya Kubo [00:03:32]:
Yeah, exactly.

Kathi Lipp [00:03:34]:
And, Tonya, I have to tell you, I was talking with our friend Sherry Gregory recently, and I remember one of the things she had the hardest time decluttering was one of these programs that you got in the box. And, like, here was lesson number 42, and here’s lesson number 78. And I saw somebody post about that and say it was Pokemon for stay at home moms. Gotta catch them all. And just about died when I heard that. And I finally realized I was never going to get lesson number 37. Like, they were never going to put that out. They were just going to add more and add more because I kept buying.

Kathi Lipp [00:04:18]:
Yeah. It is such a pit of despair. Okay, so.

Tonya Kubo [00:04:23]:
So back to the point, right? So past lives, and then there’s the inherited stuff, which I think you see a lot more, you know, but we’ve seen that from the beginning with clutter Frey Academy, that inherited stuff is really tough.

Kathi Lipp [00:04:40]:
It’s really, really tough. And I think, yeah, past lives and future lives. Like, I bet someday, you know, like, I’m gonna keep my wedding dress because I bet my daughter’s gonna want to wear this. No, probably not. Unless your daughter has said, oh, I want to wear that, it’s probably not gonna happen. Right? Yeah. So I understand that there is a lot of angst around this, and so how do we get rid of this stuff? And I think one of the things, we know the challenges, but I have had to approach it with a very systematic approach to take some of the angst out of it. I am not.

Kathi Lipp [00:05:29]:
I lose all logical thought when it comes to some of these things. And I give myself one box for each kid where I don’t have to explain why I’m keeping it. It’s just. But I can’t keep ten boxes for each kid. I keep these boxes because right now the kids don’t want the stuff. And these are small boxes. We’re not talking huge things. But, like, my son, he’s not in his forever house.

Kathi Lipp [00:06:02]:
He lives with a bunch of roommates. And I have a ring from my grandfather. That he wants. He goes, but I don’t feel like I’m in a good position to hang on to. I’m like, I can hang on to it. And I’m also hanging on to his boo bonkie because I think everybody has a version of Boo Bonkie, which is his blue blanket that he couldn’t live without. And I don’t know that he ever cares about it. But, like, about once every couple of years, I go into that box and I’m like, oh, blue blankie.

Kathi Lipp [00:06:32]:
So you came up with some ideas about a decision tree, and I love this. It’s kind of an emotional sorting system for making these decisions. Right. So I’m going to take. And let’s talk about. We’re not going to talk about Boo Boinke, but we’re going to talk about. I’ve got an item right here, and I’ll take a picture of it to show everybody. My dad, his first paycheck at the library when, you know, he.

Kathi Lipp [00:07:07]:
I think he was probably 17 at the time. And my son’s been a librarian. Well, he’s worked at a library. He hasn’t been a librarian. That’s a very specific role.

Tonya Kubo [00:07:17]:
That’s a master’s degree right there.

Kathi Lipp [00:07:18]:
Yeah, exactly. Um, and we used to call him the guy Brarian. But we’re going to take this paycheck that I have sitting behind me that’s laminated and everything like that on a piece of wood. And I’m going to take it through. I want to take it through the decision tree process. So, um, let’s start with my dad’s paycheck. And you know what? We’re going to do that right after we take a quick break. We’re going to take a quick break.

Kathi Lipp [00:07:43]:
We’re going to listen to some sponsors who keep this podcast free, and then we’ll come right back. Okay, guys, I am back with Tonya Kubo, and we’re doing the emotional, sentimental item decision tree. So what is the first question that I am going to ask myself, Tonya?

Tonya Kubo [00:08:03]:
So for me, it is, how do I feel? Like when I’m holding this and I’m just holding something random because nobody listening can actually see what I’m holding. But when I hold this, what are the emotions that instantly bubble up? Am I feeling angst? Am I feeling hurt? Am I feeling happiness? Am I feeling joy? Like, that’s the first thing that I think needs to happen. You got to label that emotion. So how are you feeling about that paycheck, Kathi?

Kathi Lipp [00:08:34]:
It makes me happy. It just. It. You know, I’ll be honest. My dad and I didn’t have a super close relationship. He was definitely on the spectrum. Hard for him to connect engineer. But this makes me feel connected to him.

Tonya Kubo [00:08:52]:
Okay, so it makes you feel connected because that’s the. You know, the second question I would ask is, you know, why do you feel happy? So it makes you feel connected to him. He’s not here anymore. So the next question, like, absolutely doesn’t apply to this item, but it’s. But it will apply to some of our listeners items that they are evaluating, which is, you know, what is the frequency in which you use it? Like, how often are you using it?

Kathi Lipp [00:09:18]:

Tonya Kubo [00:09:19]:
And I’m gonna say, what’s the practicality of using it?

Kathi Lipp [00:09:23]:
Zero practicality, but it is displayed. So I feel like that’s a use. That’s. That’s a form of use for me, that it’s not just on a shelf that I’ve ignored. It’s like, no, it’s in a place that when I see it, it makes me happy.

Tonya Kubo [00:09:41]:
Well, what I would add for consideration, because that’s the other thing we know, is our listeners are great rule followers, but this decision tree is a wonderful framework for evaluating whether to keep or not keep your sentimental item. But there’s nuance to it. So, in this case, you’re not using it, but it’s displayed. It’s not taking up a ton of space. It’s a first paycheck.

Kathi Lipp [00:10:07]:

Tonya Kubo [00:10:08]:

Kathi Lipp [00:10:08]:

Tonya Kubo [00:10:09]:
We’re not talking about a china hut chair.

Kathi Lipp [00:10:11]:
Yes, exactly.

Tonya Kubo [00:10:13]:
So I think that’s important to point out, too, we might feel a little differently if we’re talking about this gigantic china hutch that goes floor to ceiling.

Kathi Lipp [00:10:21]:

Tonya Kubo [00:10:21]:
But next, whether it’s a china hutch or it’s your dad’s first paycheck, the next question is, what’s the sentimental value associated with. Of that item? Is it because it’s attached to irreplaceable memories? Is it attached to an irreplaceable association?

Kathi Lipp [00:10:40]:
Yeah. Well, I have not kept a lot of my dad’s stuff because, you know, honestly, it wasn’t his. His rock collection. There were other people who were more connected to that. His cameras, other people more connected to that. But this one, I have very few things of his because I. I remember my dad, and I remember him with love and fondness. So I don’t need a lot of stuff around.

Kathi Lipp [00:11:09]:
But this paycheck, it’s not that it’s associated with a particular memory, but it’s associated with goodness. In my dad.

Tonya Kubo [00:11:18]:
Right. And for most of our folks who are evaluating sentimental stuff, they’re probably not looking at something that’s already displayed. They’re probably going through boxes in their garage, in a spare room, in a drawer. So what I would say if they had the same answer, though, right? Like, it’s associated with good memories. I feel good about this. I have very few things that have similar associations. Then I would say, okay, so let’s think of ways that you can preserve the memory if that item is not practical in your home. If the item is practical, then let’s talk about clever ways of displaying it.

Tonya Kubo [00:11:56]:
Like, how do we make it part of the actual intentional design of your home? And if the answer is no, like, it does not have any, you know, irreplaceable memories or associations, you know, it’s one of 22 of a similar item, then, you know, it’s. It’s time to make the hard, that hard decision about, do I really need to keep this? Do I need to keep this now?

Kathi Lipp [00:12:22]:
Yeah. So this is not part of the decision tree, but what I. A kind of rule that I’ve made for myself. Not a rule, a guideline is for somebody who is close to me. I. I can keep up to five of their items. So, you know, and obviously, if something happened to Roger, that would be blown out the water. But, you know, I’ve lost my dad in the past ten years.

Kathi Lipp [00:12:51]:
A year ago, I lost you and I lost our good friend Jen. And I have a couple of items around here that remind me of her. She sent me one time a towel that says fold in the cheese, which is from Schitt’s Creek. And it’s a little joke. And so I have a couple, but, you know, and that was a significant loss in my life. But five items is enough for anybody in my life. And I have people in my life that are very precious to me, but I haven’t lost them. And so things of my kids, that kind of things.

Kathi Lipp [00:13:32]:
Five is a good guideline for me. It doesn’t feel overstuffed, it doesn’t feel crazy, and it forces me to make decisions. So everybody has to have their own number, right?

Tonya Kubo [00:13:44]:
And what I was going to say is, I want to speak to the person right now who is like, five is not enough. Damn. I get five does not sound like very many. And, you know, you already said it’s an arbitrary number. It’s a number that works for you. It may not be the number that works for me. Maybe I need four, maybe I need eight. But the reason five is a good benchmark number is because we don’t just have one special person in our life.

Tonya Kubo [00:14:12]:

Kathi Lipp [00:14:12]:

Tonya Kubo [00:14:13]:
So you think about it. If you’re keeping five items from mom, five items from dad, five items from mom in law and dad in law, now we’ve got 20 different items that we’re having to find space for. So that’s why.

Kathi Lipp [00:14:28]:
And Tonya, let’s talk about our dog, too. Like, we’ve got all these grand. And then. Yeah. And then the things from your dog, like, it can get out of control.

Tonya Kubo [00:14:37]:
Right. So for some people, I just want to clarify that because I think for some people, they’re thinking like, five is so many because they have, you know, I don’t know, six sets of parents because of in laws and steps and all of that. And other people who might be an only child of only children is like, no, I need 20 because that just.

Kathi Lipp [00:14:56]:
Gives me 40 items. Right. So I think it’s good to have a number because then you say, am I keeping this just because I love the person, or am I keeping this because there’s significance to this item in that person?

Tonya Kubo [00:15:13]:
Right. Well, and you know me, like my latest thing that I’m all about, and I talk about this in Clutterfree Academy, and I’m talking about in clutter free for life, which is our private membership program, is I’m all about the freedom of constraints. It doesn’t matter what the number is when you set a limit, it’s clarifying because it either takes the place of one of the five items or it doesn’t.

Kathi Lipp [00:15:37]:
Right. Exactly. Exactly. And, you know, I think about the, I’ve done the, the five for our dog Jake, and one way I keep his sentimental, you know, I do this for some of our pets, is I have a picture in the house. So for pets, it’s the. The number is three. And so I keep their collar around a candle. So it’s around a can, a glass candle.

Kathi Lipp [00:16:07]:
And so I have that collar. I have a picture, and then I have an item that was important to them and that feels like enough. And by having more items, it doesn’t prove that I love Jake more. There’s no way I could have loved Jake more. But these are the things that are comforting to me. Tonya, this has been such a rich conversation, but we’re not even close to being done. Can I have you come back next week and we’re going to talk about how do you curate the emotional and sentimental items in your life? Are you willing to come back?

Tonya Kubo [00:16:40]:
Definitely. I would love to thank you, Kathi.

Kathi Lipp [00:16:42]:
Okay, friends, 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.

#618 Decluttering Sentimental Items: A Step-by-Step Guide

#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.