Simplifying Motherhood: Podcast Episode #157
Krista Lockwood, founder of Motherhood Simplified, shares her top decluttering tips for new moms to prep for the arrival of a new baby. You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes, SoundCloud, or anywhere you find your podcasts.
Welcome. You’re listening to Ask the Doulas, a podcast where we talk to experts from all over the country about topics related to pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and early parenting. Let’s chat!
Kristin: Welcome to Ask the Doulas! I’m Kristin, and I’m here today with Krista Lockwood. Krista is the founder of Motherhood Simplified. Krista teaches decluttering for moms who don’t want to be a full-blown minimalist. In 2013, she and her husband moved from Alaska to Florida with only one suitcase each. While she doesn’t believe you need to go to that extreme, Krista’s been able to master the balance of having enough but not too much. Welcome, Krista!
Krista: Hi! Thank you so much for having me.
Kristin: I would love to hear a bit about your journey to get into owning your own business focused on simplifying and downsizing all the clutter that, especially as moms, we tend to accumulate.
Krista: It started when my husband and I moved from Alaska to Florida, both born and raised, and at the time, we had three kids, and we moved with just our suitcases. And we rented a furnished house and basically had a chance to start over. At that point, I didn’t know that decluttering was a thing or minimalism or simplifying. I had no idea. We just knew that logistically, it was very expensive. It was actually more affordable to start over after our move, so that’s what we chose to do. And I lived that way for about four years. You know, we reaccumulated stuff, but never to the point of where it was before when we lived in Alaska. It wasn’t until 2017 when I got pregnant with our fourth baby, and I was a part of a due date group, which I’m sure your listeners know what that is, or they might know. They’re just dedicated Facebook groups for moms who are due at the same time.
Kristin: They’re so fun!
Krista: Yes! Oh, my gosh, they are so much fun. And we all got really close. After we had our babies, in the postpartum phase, we started doing this thing called house tours. It was so much fun. A lot of us were struggling with, like, the messes and the laundry and the dishes and the toys, and when it got to be my turn, they were like, hold on a second. Did you stage your house? We all agreed we would show it as is. It was then that I started to realize what we had actually done. My first postpartum phases were not like that. I wasn’t able to just sit on the couch and breastfeed my baby and focus on my recovery and rest and take naps. I was constantly doing laundry, dishes, trying to keep up. And I started to put the pieces together. We got rid of all of our stuff four years ago, and that’s when it got easy for me, even in my postpartum phases. I just asked them, do you want me to show you how to do this? And then, heck yes, please do, and that’s how I got to where I am now.
Kristin: I love it. You saw a need, and you filled it. It’s perfect. I find that our students in our Becoming a Mother course and our doula clients are overwhelmed with the registry process and all the things that people want to gift, especially to first-time moms. What are some of your suggestions to minimize all of the things so you don’t have the clutter to pick up?
Krista: I was the same way with our first three kids. I felt like I needed all of the things. A swing and a bouncer and – I don’t even know. There are so many gadgets out there, and then when you get on a registry, it’s so easy to just click “add.” Add to the registry! And not really think about how it will be used and if there’s an alternative or if it’s even something that will actually make your life easier after you have the baby. With my first baby, I had no idea what those things would be. To a degree, even after my second baby, I had no idea because having two babies is completely different than having one.
Kristin: Exactly. It’s so different.
Krista: But after our fourth baby, we had decluttered. We had lived that way for a while. Everyone in the due date group thought I was kind of the weird one because I was like, I’m not going to buy all that stuff this time. I’m going to get a car seat. I’m going to get a small amount of clothes and a really nice baby carrier that’s really comfy. I don’t know if you have a recommendation, but I love the Lenny Lambs. They’re so soft.
Kristin: My kids are 10 and 9, so I think that might be a newer product. But I loved the Ergo and the Moby.
Krista: Yeah, it’s similar. Instead of it being like a canvas, it’s like a really soft linen, but still strong, so it’s more flexible. They’re really nice. But I knew the basics of what I needed, and then I decided that after they were born, I would get things as needed. I did find that with having three older kids and a dog, having a small bouncer-type chair where I could set her down quickly in moments and her be safe was worth getting. But I think sometimes we get so much in preparation mode that we get all of these things, unsure of if we’ll actually need them, and then that becomes overwhelming because the house is full of all of this stuff. Ultimately, then we have to end up cleaning it up and shifting it around our houses and making room for it and rearranging it. I would say just basics: food, clothes, a way to feed the baby, a way to keep the baby safe and held so that you can still move around, and then wait and see what you need as things come up. Even toys. There are so many baby toys out there. You don’t even need toys or any of that.
Kristin: And people love to buy toys and high chairs and things that aren’t needed until a baby is older, so again, they’re sitting around taking up space in your home and causing more clutter, which for many people, causes anxiety when you look around at the clutter. It can be very stressful.
Krista: I know for sure that was my experience with my first three kids. Having all this stuff around me and then feeling obligated to use it and then missing the window for actually being able to use those play mats and stuff because it goes so fast. And then noticing a really big difference after having our fourth and then our fifth baby without all that stuff and just my ability to be with my baby. I think that’s one thing that I learned, too, with a lot of the gadgets and things unintentionally – I’m not going to say that all gadgets are this way, but it really took away from my ability to be with my baby. It was like, I have to play with these things. I have to show her this. I have to do all these activities and stuff instead of just laying with her.
Kristin: There are so many things. Like you said, the gadgets, the orbit and different things that are computerized and can occupy your child so you can clean and reduce clutter instead of, again, bonding and holding your baby or putting them down to sleep and so on. I love it. So you’ve had completely different experiences, it sounds like, from your first couple of kids and to now as far as the experience in your household. What was your plan for your last baby in that nesting phase? What were you doing to prepare for the change in your family?
Krista: Baby number five was born in 2019, and I remember that first round of two under two being so hard. I could handle one just fine, but then when the second one came, it was like everything I thought I could do went out the window. And so with this fifth baby, I was preparing to have two under two again, and the majority of my focus was to get systems in place in my house with my older kids. There were expectations of the chores that they were responsible for, making sure that my house was pretty easy to manage with one adult, and I wanted that to be my focus because my husband works a lot. So I thought that if I could reduce the workload down to one adult, I would have a better chance of being able to really recover as well as possible because I was just crossing my fingers that I’d survive two under two again. And I’ll be honest, two under two is really hard, for me anyway.
Kristin: It was for me, as well. I went through the same thing.
Krista: Yes, you understand. It just feels like the workload, not including day to day stuff of groceries and meals and cleaning up messes, just quadruples. My focus was on mentally preparing myself for that and making my house as simple as possible, setting up those systems, but really just preparing myself to be ready to do the absolute bare minimum for about two years. I’m at the tail end of that now. How I’m even able to be here with you right now – she’s two and a half now. It was really preparing myself mentally to be okay with it being a very low-key season where I’m not doing a lot of things outside of taking care of small children, being tired, and trying to sleep, and focusing on those kinds of things.
Kristin: As far as your business model, take us through what it would be like to work with you if a client of ours or a listener is interested in setting the stage before they have their first or next baby, and then walk us through what it might look like in the postnatal phase, if they’re hearing about you and they’ve already had their baby and they really need to get things organized and in order.
Krista: I’ve actually had a lot of moms come to me when they’re pregnant and wanting to do this before they have their babies. Under the assumption that you have a healthy pregnancy – obviously, you’re tired and dealing with all of that – I always recommend doing as much as you possible can before the baby gets here because I feel like once the baby is here, it’s just a different kind of workload, a different kind of 24/7 job for you, especially when they’re teeny tiny. I want moms to be ready for that. I want them to clear the space from their homes so that they can be ready to just have that around-the-clock time with this tiny, super sweet baby, which I miss, to be honest. But I always recommend starting with the areas of your home that are going to have the most impact. Things like your kitchen, your dishes, having less dishes overall so that they’re easier to keep up on, going through your pantry and making sure that you’ve got food that’s not expired, those kinds of things. Laundry, because laundry can pile up very quickly. Decluttering and simplifying laundry. And then if you have other children, going through and simplifying the toys and crafts and whatever it is that you have for them. What I’ve found for me specifically is the more kids I have, the less stuff and toys and crafts we can really manage. We still have enough to meet the needs and desires of our family, but when we had three kids, we have, like, four times as many toys as we do now with five kids. Part of it, I think, is because we just don’t fully understand how much we actually need and use on a regular basis, but also, they play with each other, and that part gets easier. But those are the areas that I have them focus on first just because those are the most common areas of the home that can get very overwhelming.
Hey, Alyssa here. I’m just popping in to tell you about our course called Becoming. Becoming A Mother is your guide to a confident pregnancy and birth all in a convenient six-week online program, from birth plans to sleep training and everything in between. You’ll gain the confidence and skills you need for a smooth transition to motherhood. You’ll get live coaching calls with Kristin and myself, a bunch of expert videos, including chiropractic care, pelvic floor physical therapy, mental health experts, breastfeeding, and much more. You’ll also get a private Facebook community with other mothers going through this at the same time as you to offer support and encouragement when you need it most. And then of course you’ll also have direct email access to me and Kristin, in addition to the live coaching calls. If you’d like to learn more about the course, you can email us at email@example.com, or check it out at www.thebecomingcourse.com. We’d love to see you there.
Kristin: I agree on the toys. Family members and friends, and kids start having birthday parties where friends attend, and it gets to be overwhelming. I always have my kids donate before Christmas or a birthday before they get more toys. It’s like, what are we giving back so we can make space for new things?
Krista: That’s a good rhythm to get into, as well, for them so that they know kind of, like, we only have so much room. We don’t have room to keep everything that we get every year. But then I think your next question was what about for afterwards.
Kristin: Exactly, yes.
Krista: One of the reasons that I do recommend doing it before you have the baby if at all possible is that if you have family and friends who are willing to come and help – I know not everybody has that – it does make it a lot easier for people to come into your home and do simple things. You know, help out with the dishes or help out with a load of laundry. For me, I’ve often felt embarrassed about the way that my house was, so I didn’t want people coming over and being like, oh, wow, she’s quite a mess. Decluttering and simplifying it just made it easier to accept help when people did want to come over. If you don’t get to it before baby, it’s totally okay, as well. I still would recommend focusing on those areas because you want to maximize the effort that you put into decluttering the things that are going to have the most impact on your days, and the most important thing is to not overdo it because you are healing in so many ways. You do have time, and if you can find someone who can give you just tiny little bite-sized steps to take that will help you clear things out of your home efficiently and maximize your effort, that’s really great. Of course, you can also just look around your house and ask yourself, like, what would be the best thing for me to have less of? Have less laundry or clothes; have less toys; have less dishes. Just kind of take note of that and figure out how you can give yourself some relief.
Kristin: I love it. So helpful. And as you said, it makes it easier for others to help after you’ve had your baby if they don’t need to ask you where to put things and things are simplified. Some of our clients have a parent or friends stay with them during that recovery period if their partner is working quite a bit during that time. It makes it easier to have company.
Krista: That’s an important note, too. Even if they aren’t coming to help you with dishes or something like that, we have social needs, as well. I found myself with my first babies kind of isolating myself because I was embarrassed to have people over unless I did a whole lot of work to prepare my house. Not that anybody cared, but I cared. But then I was also so overwhelmed that it made it difficult to leave my house and go meet people at other places because I’m like, there’s so much I have to do at the house; I can’t go anywhere. I really love, as much as possible, to help moms and make this easy for them so they don’t end up being isolated or feeling overwhelmed or taking time away from being able to bond with their baby because they’re cleaning up these messes or just trying to get ahead in their house.
Kristin: Exactly. So what are your top three tips for listeners, Krista, if they want to make some change or hire a consultant like you to help them simplify?
Krista: I would say just start with one thing. This is something that we do inside of our Facebook group every now and then where we just share literally one thing that we’re going to declutter. Maybe it’s something that’s been sitting on your kitchen counter that you’ve been avoiding for a long time. Maybe it’s some dishes. Maybe it’s a pile of stuff that’s been sitting on your stairs. Literally just one thing, because that will get your momentum going. I think a lot of times the hardest part is when we think about what we’re supposed to do, and then we think about it forever, and it’s so exhausting until you actually just take one step. You’re like, oh, that wasn’t so bad, and then you can take the next one. That would be my first tip. My second tip would be start – just do declutter your spice cabinet, just to be really specific. Go declutter your spice cabinet, or if you don’t have that, under your kitchen sink. If you go declutter one of those spaces, there’s not a lot of sentimental stuff in there. You can do it while you’re making dinner or when you’ve got a spare five minutes throughout your day. It’s all pretty simple stuff to get rid of, and it will give you a quick win. It will make you feel like you’re making progress and like it’s not so scary to declutter and not so daunting. I think sometimes when we think about decluttering our houses, we just see the whole house. It’s like, oh, my gosh, it’s going to take forever. If you can just do a tiny little thing, it feels a whole lot less daunting. And the last thing that I would recommend is to just find some kind of a community who can help you along, right, who understands it. If you’re a mom or if you are pregnant and about to become a new mom, find a mom group who knows about decluttering and can relate to you and will totally validate and understand the feelings that you have when you’re just exhausted because you’re pregnant or you just had a baby and your house is overwhelming, and they can brainstorm with you and strategize and just let you know you’re not the only one who feels that way.
Kristin: And you mentioned you have a Facebook group?
Krista: Yes, I do. It’s called Motherhood Simplified (The Group) and there’s about 40,000 moms in there right now. We do monthly challenges. We’ve got a really good system for asking questions and giving feedback. It’s really respectful. Very high-level, wonderful moms to learn from.
Kristin: I love it. And then how else can our listeners get in touch with you? You’ve got a website. You’re on Instagram?
Krista: Yes. If you go to my website, you’ll find everything there. I’ve got a bank of blogs and free guides and podcast episode and courses. Whatever you consume or use, you can find it on my site. You can join the group there. It’s all right there.
Kristin: As far as course options, what would you suggest for our listeners at this point if they’re pregnant or newly postpartum?
Krista: I have a course called Decluttering Simplified, which is a step-by-step process to help you declutter your house start to finish, one step at a time in sequential order. It’s how I decluttered my house and then for the last three and a half years, it’s how I’ve helped other moms declutter their houses. I’ve given them the program, had them go through it, gotten feedback so I could adjust it and refine it. I would recommend that. And if you want something less intensive, if you don’t want to do the whole entire house, I do have a toy course. You can do just the toys or just the clothes, just the paper, because those are the top three that I get requests for. That’s where I would recommend. It’s all created from the lens of motherhood and understanding that we have limited time, limited energy, and we still want to make a lot of progress with the time and energy that we do have.
Kristin: Exactly. And you mentioned sentimental items. When I think of paper, I think of my kids’ report cards and cards that they made us or drawings, and there’s just so much that builds up when you get into sentimental paper products related to your children and wanting to have memories for them to take to their own homes one day.
Krista: Yeah. You want me to share kind of how we do it real quick?
Krista: So we have five kids, and we have tons of paper. Right? They come home with school projects and all of that stuff, and a few years ago – actually, maybe four or five years ago, I had, like, three bins of papers and crafts and all these special memories, and I decided to go through it with them. What we found when we started going through it was that a lot of it was not special. Nobody could remember what it was or when they made it. So we went through and really got to curate our collection of the memories that we did want to keep, and we condensed it down to about one large Rubbermaid bin.
Kristin: So much better.
Krista: Yes, and it feels so much better because we go through it about twice a year. At the end of the school year, we’ll go through it again, because we add to it all year. We’ll go through it again, and it’s really fun because everything in there is like a museum rather than an archive where it’s stuff that we really love, and we laugh about it, and it’s fun to revisit. Then we do it again at Christmastime because the box is near our Christmas décor, so we just pull it out for fun. So if you do have boxes of papers, I would recommend just going through it with your kids and revisiting stuff. I’ve found the weirdest stuff in there, too, like a flyer for some fall festival. Like, why would we keep that? It’s such a weird thing to keep. But yeah, go through it with them and have some fun. See what they remember and see what you remember. The other thing that I’ve found, especially when my kids were young, was that a lot of the papers and crafts that I kept were definitely things that were made by adults and then put my kids’ names on it for Mother’s Day and stuff, which is totally okay, and we kept some of them, but some of them, I was like, you know, we have so many other nicer things that really look like you made it. So how to handle the kid paper, which I know is a big deal for a lot of families.
Kristin: It sure is. Thank you for your tips, Krista! It was so great to chat, and I will be checking out your Facebook group and getting on my spice rack, for sure.
Krista: Thank you so much!
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