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097: Master Organizer of Mayhem Helps You Bring Order Out of Chaos – Kristi Clover

Kristi Clover is an efficiency expert and a homeschooling mom of five kids ranging in age from preschool to teen. Aside from her family (and chocolate), she’s passionate about encouraging and inspiring families by offering simple solutions for a more joy-filled life. She is the author of “M.O.M. – Master Organizer of Mayhem: Simple Solutions to Organize Chaos and Bring More Joy into Your Home” and the host of the Simply Joyful podcast.

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • Why Kristi is so passionate about organization.
  • The two most challenging areas for families.
  • Why systems are absolutely necessary.
  • How to tackle your mountain of laundry.

Connect with Kristi:

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Interview Transcript

Well Kristi, thanks so much for taking some time to hang with me today. I appreciate it.

Absolutely. This is going to be fun. I’m excited.

Okay, so why and how did you become so passionate about organization? I love organization too, so I’d just love to hear your testimony Kristi, of how organization changed your life.

Yes, I love it, right? Now I’m like, “How has my life ever been changed?” You know, it’s an ongoing process too, but really it came, I refer to it lovingly as the dark days that we experience. When we first moved to San Diego, I had two little, tiny people. A three-month old, and a 20-month old, so two babies. My husband went from just normal travel schedule, to covering two territories. So he was gone all the time. In a six-month period, we had had two or three surgeries. My husband had an emergency surgery. I had an unforeseen surgery. We had stress in our marriage. We had family dynamics at play.

We had everything that you could think of. We had just moved into what I thought was going to be my dreamhouse, and everything was going wrong. It was just one chaotic moment after another and I kind of put my white flag up. I’m like, “I can’t do this.” What literally hit me then, was that I could not control a lot of the things happening to me and happening in our lives. But there were some things that I could take control of, and one of the things was to dig myself out of the chaos and start getting more organized. And so it really became a focus for me of, “Okay, I have complete chaos and I’m totally overwhelmed but what steps can I take right now to bring a little bit more order to our day?”

I find that my sock and underwear drawer is most organized when I feel most out of control in life.

Everybody’s got to have their spot. I laugh because for my sock and underwear drawer to organized, it means that everything else in the house better be pretty darn organized. Because I’m like, “It’s going in a drawer. I’m going to close the drawer and that closet’s going to look good.” For me to take the time to make it look good in that area of the house, man. But I have other weird things. Yeah, I have other weird things. Like the pantry is probably the one place that consistently I organize because it’s controllable. It’s the one place I can walk in and kind of think “Ah, yay.”

That’s great. In the beginning of your book, one of the first things that you tell me to do is embrace my inner organizer.

Yes.

What if I’m a total wreck? You really believe that every single person has an inner organizer inside of them?

I think sometimes they’re hiding. They’re hiding out. I think you can learn it if anything. Yes, so you can be a complete wreck and that’s perfect. Everybody’s got to start somewhere. For me, I was in that state of overwhelmed. I was a wreck and I had to find my inner organizer and shake her and wake her up a little bit. I had to learn, and sometimes what I find is that when there are those problem areas, a lot of the times I’m just not finding the right system to use for that particular problem.

What I had to do is stop paying attention to what all the experts were saying, and for me it was breaking rules. That’s a lot of the system’s I came up with are horrible, crazy rule breakers. Emilie Barnes would be like “Ooh, what are you telling people to do?” For me, I was in survival mode. I really do believe that there is an organizer inside of everyone. Some people it’s just naturally there, and other people you got to dig a little deeper to discover that person hiding out inside.

So you wouldn’t say that you grew up as a total organizational freak kid? Because I was the kid who has a map of my room. Literally a piece of paper, and I would draw out the new arrangement of how I would want to organize my room and shuffle it so it would be most effective, efficient, creative, so forth. I love doing that.

Yes.

That was not you?

Well, my mom taught me if I wanted to move furniture to do that. But if you ask anyone in my life who knew me all the way through high school, I was a complete wreck. I had one clean spot in my bedroom for me to get to the bed. So I could hop from the doorway to the bed. I mean, to that spot, to the bed. I was a complete mess. It wasn’t until college that you started seeing hints of my little inner organizer coming out. Where I really found, because I was living in a small room with another person. So that’s when it started kicking in a little bit.

I remember my mom coming over to visit one time, and then even all my high school friends would come over and they would be like, “What in the heck? What happened here?” And I’m like, “Look at my desk drawer. Look, I found little boxes that fit in these spaces.” When I think back, I actually was always good at spatial organization. I was the one if you wanted to pack a car, you ask me. It will fit. I still laugh today because we’ll get back from Costco, and my kid’s like, “It’s not all going to fit in the car.” I’m like, “Who are you talking to? I can do it. Don’t even get me started.” In fact one time, longer story, but I had a moment with my kids where I’m like, “I am the queen of Tetris.”

Yeah, yeah of course.

I’ve got Tetris playing in my head.

My family just dumps all the bags at the back of the car and just go, ” Dad, work your magic.” I make it happen, it’s so fun.

I love it. Yes.

It is a challenge. In your book you share ten simple rules to change my home life. Obviously, we don’t want to go through all of them because we want people to buy the book. As I’ve mentioned, it’s called Master Organizer of Mayhem: Simple Solutions to Organize Chaos and Bring More Joy in to Your Home. We’ll of course have the link to Amazon in our show notes. You can just swipe up now on your phone and click that link. But if there were a couple of rules that you would want to give us as a taste test. You know, just kind of whet our palates. Is that what you say, whet our palates? That sounds gross. Just a little taste.

A little teaser.

It’s like a Costco sample of the M.O.M. book. There we go. I love Costco samples. If you’re listening outside the United States, it’s a store that gives you food and people wait in line to get a little bite. What is up with that?

I don’t know.

They wait in line to get a little bite.

Well, our Costco sampled cookie dough the other week and my kids were like, “Can we stop by again?” So we did. I’m like, “Not right away, we have to come back so hopefully they don’t remember.”

“Take off your jacket. Take off your jacket, they won’t think it’s the same person.”

I know. I’m like, “Mess your hair up a little.”

What are a couple of rules that you would want to give us as a Costco sample of the M.O.M. book?

A Costco sample? We have a lot of the basics.

Hold on, wait a minute.

Yes, go ahead.

M.O.M., can I even read this book? I’m not a mom.

You can read it. It is for anyone who wants to get more organized in their life. I really came at it from the perspective of, I feel like moms and dads. Not to exclude a father, so you can read it. I feel like a lot of the trendy, how to get organized stuff, does not take in mind a house full of children. So whether you have one child, or little kids, or big kids, or whatever, you have all these extra hands and feet. You know that picture you have in your head before you have children of, “Oh, they’re all going to listen to what I say and it’s just going to be this perfect June Cleaver, you know Leave it to Beaver moment.” No, it doesn’t happen. They are independent little people and big people, and they have to make good choices too. Not everybody makes the choice to be organized, so it’s all good.

I don’t even know if this is the case, Marie Kondo doesn’t have kids, does she?

She now does have kids, but not when she started it. She was organizing everyone at the age of eight or something, I think I read. So yes, she’s a naturally organized person. And yes, she started out organized. A lot of people don’t start there.

She didn’t start out with kids, so let’s see what her life’s like now.

I know.

Okay, so this could be the dad version, the Disaster of Dust. No, that’s an of. What would that be, Disaster, Disaster, Action…

Averter…

Yeah, I don’t know. I’ll think about that.

I know, we’ve actually toyed with it.

Let’s focus on this, Kristi. Let’s focus.

Okay, Costco sample.

Give me some rules.

Some of the rules. We do have the basic rules. You’ve got to declutter. The less you have to pick up, the better. I’m not a minimalist, but I do have some great tips on how to declutter. Prioritizing is a big one too. One of the things that really differentiates my book from other books is my glean and tweak technique. That’s the fact that we don’t have to start from scratch. Look and see what other people are doing well. If you have friends in a similar lifestyle and they don’t have the paper piles that you have in your house, ask them what they do.

I did that for some things. Paper piles are like — oh my goodness, it’s my kryptonite. I am so bad. My husband refers to them as the Kristi piles, and I try really hard. I mean, it is the area that I constantly struggle with because I’m a visual organizer. I kind of have to see it to remember to get to it. I had one girlfriend tell me, “You know, I just set an appointment with myself. So every Thursday morning I have an appointment with myself.” I was like, “Okay, I can do that,” So Thursday came. My appointment came, and my appointment went, and I just didn’t care.

I realized that what was big for me is at first I felt like a failure. I’m like, ” I’m never going to get this, and I’m never going to figure it out.” What finally dawned on me is that well I can tweak this and make it work. So maybe on Thursdays I do try to make sure I clear my calendar a little bit, but make it more organic so it’s not like at ten o’clock. There was something to me about having that set time of “Oh my gosh, I’ve got to get to this.” It wasn’t always paper piles, so maybe it just became a Thursday habit of I did something that would tidy up, and then eventually I did get to my paper piles. I found people who had better systems. My mother-in-law had a great system for how she organizes paperwork.

Tell me about it. Tell me what she does.

So my mother-in-law, she has this whole system with binder clippers. She has different colored binder clippers for different types of, you know…

Paperwork.

Paper piles. To me, I was like, “Wow.” Because it fit in with my visual side of things. I needed to see things. Personally, I learned to have a drawer where I could keep things, but I had to keep them in order so that things didn’t get lost. So if you use the colored binder clips, that worked.

Like what colors for what things? Like one color would be for…

Oh, my goodness. So if you had bills. Like bills, I would say take out and put somewhere. We do a lot of our banking and bill paying online, and my husband deals with that. But bills, bills to me in my world, they go on my husband’s desk. Praise the Lord, that is his strength and I let him do that. If there’s other things. So coupons, coupons now actually have a specific basket by the back door and I only keep the ones I know I’m going to use. I used to save all the ones of like,” Oh this looks like a fabulous restaurant.” I used to have this little box for them and that became one more area that just became cluttered.

Now it’s literally, I think we keep like El Pollo Loco, so some of our favorite fast foody things, Subway, and then Bed, Bath & Beyond. That’s it. I do not keep any other coupons. Initially, those would be, maybe pick a color that you want, so blue because it would match our Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons. Then anything that needs to get read, you could use a red binder clipper. So something you want to come back to, whether it’s a magazine or a newspaper. The key is, is that with a binder clipper is that you could get the massive ones…

Mega ones.

And if you keep it small, then it makes you have to get through and actually take action on that because nothing else is going to keep fitting in that. There’s all different ways, because now I use file folders and I actually do tab them. I’m getting a lot better at just throwing things out, because l literally will get a magazine and be like, “And I know in my heart of hearts, I will never look at that.” It just goes straight into recycling.

I quit subscribing to them.

Oh yeah. No, absolutely.

They want to give them to you now. It’s five dollars for the whole year of GQ. I’m like, “Yeah, it’s just going to sit there.” Okay, rule number four, is do your worst thing first. Tell me about this rule.

Oh, my goodness. Speaking of that inner organizer, so many people get paralysis, like that analysis paralysis. Where they think of that one problem area. Because my number one tip is where to start if you are feeling like a complete hot mess and you walk through-out your house going, “Oh my goodness, it is chaotic.” I tell people to pick one thing. Just pick one thing and start there. What I found is that when you do start by picking a project that’s completely intimidating.

I mean, you can do either way, pick one small project that’s going to be an actionable thing, kind of get your feet wet doing that. But there’s that one project that usually moves from to-do list to to-do list. So what I did in this chapter, is I taught people how to devise action steps. A plan of attack of how to get in and get it done. Because that thing will always be looming. Once you take on your worst project and you conquer it, you feel like you can take on the world. That is when you put on your little organizer cape and you’re like, “I am M.O.M.,” or we’ll find a D.A.D. for you.

Yeah, we’re going to have to find that. So the worst thing, as you are connecting with people, what do you find is the worst thing overall for most people? You know what I mean? What area of the home, or life, or whatever?

Okay, so there’s actually two things that I hear all the time. It usually comes up when I admit that I have five kids. Is people are always asking about feeding people. So meal planning, how do you feed people? And then laundry. Those are probably the two areas that I hear the most complaining about. I mean, you’ve got the normal kitchen, family room, toys, all that kind of stuff. But I would say more than anything is, “How do I get food on the table consistently?” and “How do I get laundry done?”

Those could be messes but those also just sound like systems of like, “How do I think about those things.” I guess it’s organizing your time. It’s organizing some of the resources. It’s thinking about organizing in a little different way. I often think of more mess, but you’re thinking about more a system.

Yeah, so with meals, definitely a system. I mean, think about the laundry. A lot of times people’s mess is the fact that they have dirty laundry everywhere and they have clean laundry everywhere.

Yeah, that’s true. That’s true.

Sometimes you can’t tell the difference. I would say in bedrooms, most of the time that is what’s accumulating. Is either the dirty laundry stacking up or you have the mountain of laundry that is never getting folded. The way to attack everything, that’s one of the things I really want people to understand. Is that when you look at the definition of organization, it says nothing about perfection. I am here to tell people to give themselves grace and to start systematizing, because systems are exactly what organization is all about. You need to find systems that work. When it comes to laundry, I have a boatload, I actually have an entire chapter just on laundry systems. Because there are little tweaks you can make. Now my family dynamic is going to be different than your family dynamic. I still have small children.

You’ve got a lot of clothes. You have a lot of clothes.

We have a ton of clothes. I know.

So take me there. In the second chapter of the book, “Phase Two: It’s All About Framework”, you’ve got six systems that you share. Decluttering systems, organizing systems, storage systems, chore systems, kitchen systems, laundry systems. I don’t see anything about garage systems, but okay.

That’s in the organizing one. I actually do talk about that.

Okay. All right, all right. Let’s go to the laundry systems. Help listeners out today, if their laundry is a disaster, what would be their first step?

I have a cute little acronym called S.M.A.R.T. for laundry, but I will throw an extra one in there. This is my biggest, best tip for if you want to get through your laundry better, is do smaller loads. When you start with small loads, like if I have a large load of darks, I separate them out. Because washer to dryer, I can fold that load fast and I can get it put away fast. So it’s not as intimidating. It’s almost like you have to find these mental roadblocks. Like when I look at a huge load of clean laundry, I feel overwhelmed. I’m like, “It’s going to take me forever to get that done.” Even though in my mind I know it’s not going to take that long. I just need to get it done. Just bear down and get it done. No, if it’s a small load, I look at it and I go, “That’s going to take me five minutes.” So then I can get my laundry done faster.

But don’t you feel like your laundry’s always — like then you’re doing laundry all the time if you’re doing small loads?

All the time. So the other system we use in our home, and everybody’s got to pick their own one, is that everybody’s assigned a laundry day. I’m only doing laundry once a week. I’m doing it on Saturday. I do both my husband and my laundry. I can knock out three to four loads in no time flat because I’m breaking them into smaller loads. I’m setting a timer. So that’s one of my — I think that’s my R, is remember to switch your loads. So S.M.A.R.T. is, “sort by gender”, for the S. M, okay this going to test me…

Why would I sort by gender?

Okay, so this would be for…

Rather than by colors?

Yes. Oh, well, no. We’re going to temperature sort. We’re going to temperature sort. But if you have small kids in the house, the S of S.M.A.R.T. for that acronym is “sort by gender” and even by sizes. So you just want to make sure, because what I found when I had two little boys and now I have two little girls, their clothes all look the same. I was wasting so much time trying to separate. “Is this a size two or size four?” Sometimes I was trying to match them like twins, so I would just separate to their clothes. So I would separate my older daughter’s clothes from my younger daughter’s clothes. I guess it would be more like separate the kid’s clothes.

So you wouldn’t wash them together, so that when you’re folding them or putting them away it would save time and less confusion.

Right. Exactly.

Okay.

See this is where I am testing my memory. I’ve done this on a ton of TV segments. I’m like, “What is my S?” But no, you are separating out by kid. Not just the gender, but separate it by kid and by sizes, so that way everyone has their own laundry.

Makes sense. Yeah, of course.

Because then it’s just, “I’m focused on this person’s laundry. It’s done, and it’s put away.” It’s just faster. The M is going to be “mesh bags”. So if you have anything that is not in need of going in the dryer, because we all forget. When I’m doing my laundry, it almost drives me crazy if my husband steps in and does it because I’m like, “Oh no. He’s not going to know to pull the sweater out.” If I have everything that I don’t want to go in the dryer in a mesh bag, then he automatically knows. So that’s just a rule in the house. If you are moving somebody’s laundry from the washer to the dryer, you got to take out everything in the mesh bag. And the key is take it out of the mesh bag politely at least. So it’s not in a heap, mildewing, and molding.

The A, “avoid the iron”. So with avoiding the iron, we are pulling clothes out straight from the dryer and putting them onto hangers, or we’re folding them immediately. The key there with your family, is to have the right tools. So we have this cute little flip-fold, little doodad, that our kids absolutely love. It cracks me up because they get excited to their laundry, because they love using this little FlipFold. It’s a thing they use in The Gap to make all the shirts look perfect. It’s super easy and the kids just think it’s so fun.

And you can get that on Amazon, I assume?

Yeah, get it on Amazon. It’s called FlipFold on Amazon.

Flipfold. Okay. So we’ve got sort. We’ve got mesh bag. We’ve got avoid the iron. So when I was a kid, my mom would not let me buy clothes that had any dry clean only. That was like off the limits. I mean if it was dry cleaning, it was like, “You’re not getting that. You can’t have that.” Even if it was white shorts, couldn’t have white shorts. Could not have white shorts.

I’m kind of with her on that one.

Couldn’t have that. No white pants. Pretty much no white shirt. I mean, it was really pretty limiting on certain — like rayon. Anything that couldn’t be in the dryer, “Nope, can’t buy that. Nope, can’t buy that.” It was also 30 years ago when there were less types of fabrics. Like now, I mean so many things can’t even go in the dryer. Our back patio has so many clothes from my wife and my daughter that just have to be air-dried, otherwise you’re going to look like a four-year old or something.

Yep.

Okay, so you’re avoiding the iron. Do you take things to the dry cleaner? Do you have dry clean clothes, like your husband’s dress shirts or anything?

Well, his suits, we used to, he just retired. But what we did is, suits did get dry cleaned because you can’t really avoid that. But we did switch to a non-dry clean shirt. A shirt that can actually go into the dryer and pull out, and be pretty darn good without an iron. So we did switch to those.

Crazy fabrics. Yeah.

Yeah, right? They make all these amazing fabrics now. So we try not to buy things that are dry clean only. I will admit that I do cheat. So those things that say, “Delicate cycle only”, that’s going in a mesh bag too.

Ahh. Okay.

I just try to get things that if it means any kind of special TLC, it’s going in a mesh bag. So if it can’t go in a mesh bag, then it’s probably not going to get washed and it’s going to sit in the corner of my closet. So I try not to buy things like that.

Right. What do you do with like your fur coats? What do you do with those?

All of my designer fur coats. I don’t have any. I mean, a lot of laundry systems is going to also come down to your buying habits. If you are a fur coat person and you really need those, then absolutely, you’re going to have to work dry cleaning into your schedule. Back when we did need to go to the dry cleaner on a regular basis, that was when I was dropping dry cleaning off on Monday and then whenever it was ready I was picking it up. I kind of had a little routine. By the end of our dry-cleaning days, we found a dry cleaner near us that would actually either deliver or pick-up. So you can find solutions like that out there just to make your life easier. I mean, for heaven’s sakes, we can type in an order and have it show up on our doorsteps. So why not do that with dry cleaning as well?

Sure. We have our house manager take the furs to a fur cleaning place. They do that once a week. She wears them very often.

Do you really have fur coats?

Of course. Yeah, our house manger takes them to…

Here, in Orange County?

Yeah. It’s amazing.

Your amazing house manager? Absolutely.

You know, she’s a kindergarten teacher, so she finds that they’re a great technique with the kids to quiet down.

I love it.

Let’s see, so we’re on avoid the iron. What’s R?

R is to “remember to switch your loads”. So set a timer. Really the R is remember, but it’s a timer. So whether you’re setting a little digital reminder on your watch, on your phone. The key is to not set it on a timer that is just going to go off once and not keep reminding you. You want to make sure it’s something that makes you turn it off and go take action. Because that is the big thing. If you leave your clothes in the washer or the dryer and forget to move them, then it’s not a pretty picture.

Because of the wrinkles…

Because we have a front loader. Well, we have a front loader washing machine, and so you forget your load for more than — goodness, if I do it in the morning and I don’t get to it until night, that’s dangerous. Because it’s going to start smelling mildewy.

Then you’re in trouble.

So front load washing machines, they’re just not all that I thought they were going to be.

We still have the top load. We’re very poor people. Top load. Okay, so remember the timer, and then T is what?

“Temperature sorting”. Instead of looking at the whites, brights, and darks, I’m looking at what can I throw in a load that’s going to be washed on cold. I mostly do this for my husband. My teens now do two different loads. So they have their hot for their whites, and then their cold for their darks. I’m looking at what’s going to get washed in cold, because there’s kind of a bleed factor as well. What can get washed in warm and what can get washed in hot? And definitely paying attention to bleed factors there.

Okay, so I don’t know anything about this. Colors, I always think colors of clothes, now you’re talking temperatures. So what colors, and the people listening are probably going, “Dave, why do you ask these stupid questions?” but that’s okay.

No, they’re probably like, “Yes, what is that?’

What can be washed in hot, what can be washed in, you know…

Really it is going to be that bleed factor, so reds and dark blues. Dark colors tend to bleed. So those are going to be the ones that want to be washed on cold. What I was finding is that the brights, so it’s whites, brights, and darks. And the brights, half the time those are the clothes that have to be washed on cold anyway. My husband has some dark teal shirts that I was just looking at those going, I’m like, “I cannot wash that with all these other things.” So I might do a gray or lighter colored clothes. I can wash those in warm if they’re not brand spanking new. If they’re brand spanking new, then they’re probably going to get washed on cold the first time. Then your hot is going to be your whites. Maybe some of the pale, pale colors that are fine to use that with.

Yeah, yeah. Okay. Woo, man. So we got through S.M.A.R.T.

I’m telling you, laundry’s a thing. We have to be clothed, so we got to figure it out.

I know. I know. My wife handles the laundry in our home. She doesn’t trust the house manager to do it correctly. I’m kidding, of course. This is amazing. So we’ve got time for another system. Can we go through another system? Is that okay?

Sure. Absolutely.

Out of the decluttering, organizing, storage, chore and kitchen systems, let’s go with kitchen systems. Because you talk about organizational and meal planning systems. Talk me through this. If I’m feeling like, “Oh, I should just pick up some pizza?” Or “Should I get the box meals that are coming to my house with the produce and the meat that’s coming in the mail?” Or “Should I cook everything from scratch organic?” Or “Should I just have Hungry-Man TV trays?” What should I do?

Well, that is a personal question. If you love it, then you know, go for it. It really comes down to, do you have a plan for that? Let’s say you want to do a combination of all of those, or whatever it is, you just need to have a plan. I kind of was forced to learn this when it came to meal planning. I didn’t realize that a lot of people out there go to the store every couple of days or every day. “I’m going to make this for dinner, I need to stop at the store and pick it up.” When we first moved to San Diego, we lived in a part of San Diego that I was about 20-30 minutes from a normal grocery store or a Costco.

That doesn’t sound like it’s horrible, but when you have two tiny people who are on nap schedules, my window of opportunity to get outside of the house was so slim. My husband was traveling. I was all about getting the naps so the kids would sleep, so that I could have a little sanity at night. For me, I learned to just create a meal plan. And so the biggest thing with a meal plan is you’re looking at your week, you’re paying attention to, “This is a night we are going to have to order pizza.” “This is a night,” that hey, if you are getting one of those box meal options, “We are going to make it on this night.”

Are you doing this on Saturday or Sunday? Or when are you doing your meal planning?

It really depends. I tend to do it on a Friday or a Saturday right now.

Okay.

Sometimes it’s when we run out of food and I realize it is time to go to the store. It’s really just whenever you plan to do it. Sometimes our meal plan, because I try to keep us stocked up on some easy meals, so we always have pasta, we always have rice, we always have marinara sauce. So I can come up with some magical combination of something if I need to. When I’m kind of running too low and I missed my opportunity to do my normal shop, that’s when I have to make a meal plan and go to the store. So very rarely will you ever find me going to the without a meal plan, because I’ve just learned it doesn’t really work long term. I try to figure out what meals are going to be good for me.

I actually am a crockpot lover. People are onto this whole Instant-Pot thing. I’m still learning but it has failed me a few times, so I’m a little gun-shy. But I really love the crockpot because it allows me to throw things in in the morning or in the afternoon and not think about it. I literally have days on my calendar when I know it’s going to be busy or when I know we have a lot going on, and I just don’t want to have to think about dinner at five o’clock. I just know that that’s going to be a crockpot day and so I will get that all put together.

If I was truly crazy-organized as far as, like I didn’t struggle with it like a lot of people do, I would be the, “I’m going to do freezer meals and I’m going to plan out a month of food.” I have friends who that is, God bless them, they are so good and they will plan out their entire month. They will have things in the freezer ready to go. They’re just really good at that and they’re only buying the fresh produce that they need each week. I don’t find myself in that category all the time. I do enjoy a good freezer meal, and sometimes I’ll double a recipe on a night and freeze one and we’ll eat one. I kind of start stockpiling. But yeah, I’m not there.

Where do you get most of your recipes?

Oh goodness. Pinterest is a great place but I Google it. This is one I Googled recently, I’m like, I have rice, I have chicken, and I had some canned artichoke hearts. I’m like, “I bet there’s some yummy, delicious thing I can make,” and I found something. Luckily, we have a lemon tree at the back of our property, so whatever it was, it was some Greek type of chicken thing. It was awesome. It was so good. I was saying to my son, I’m like, “Go find a lemon.” He found one that was the size of my face practically. Of course the lemon inside was tiny, but it worked. We had lemon juice.

That’s when I just Google it half the time. I know that All Recipes is a good one, Taste of Home, Food Network. There’s all kinds of places like that. As much as I love every once in a while sitting down and watching Food Network shows, I try to steer myself more towards people on the Food Network who are going to make realistic meals. As much as it’s amazing to see what they can make in a restaurant, I’m not running a restaurant. I’m like, “God bless you. That must be delicious, but I’m not going to have time to do that.”

So this meal with rice, and artichoke hearts, and a lemon. Did you put chicken in it, you said?

Oh yeah, and chicken.

Did the kids all like it? What happens? You’re coming up with some crazy stuff here?

I know. That one was a little more unique for them. But no, we kind of have a rule, you’ve got to eat what’s served. We have five kids and if I had to make a specialized meal for each person, that’s just not going to work. We always tell them, this is our little rule, you have to eat whatever you like first and then you can ask. Then they have permission to be like, “Do I have to eat the artichoke hearts?”  Then of course my husband and I, Steve and I are like, “No you don’t. Give them to us.” We’re totally fine with that. But they have to eat the chicken, and for the most part the chicken was your basic. I think I did a little salt, pepper, flour. Then the artichoke was more of like a little accent flavor that went on it. Sometimes I’ll tweak a recipe to make it so they can deconstruct it a little bit, and eat around the stuff that I know they’re not going to like.

Yeah, yeah. They can pull it all apart.

But they’ve got to eat part of it. If it is a vegetable that they’re not eating, then the rule is also you have to go find something in the refrigerator. So they have to go either make themselves a little salad, get some cucumbers, get some carrots. We do make sure they try to eat a little something there too. That’s the way we make it work.

You’re mean.

I know, but my kids enjoy cucumbers and carrots. My fifteen — no, sorry sixteen. He’s sixteen now, oh my goodness. We have two drivers. My sixteen-year old, he’s liking celery these days. I catch him all the time just eating celery. He read some article somewhere about how celery’s good for something and I was like, “Okay. You’ll eat it, go for it.”

That’s great. One of the big issues that I know a lot of women that listen to the podcast have, is that their partner or the kids in their life are probably a big challenge when it comes to organization. When it come to the mayhem of madness, of all the things flying everywhere. How do you deal with that?  How do help get a partner or kids on board?

I think the most important thing is making sure you’re finding systems that work for your unique situation. It’s not going to be something that you’re only thinking about yourself, like this system works with how I think. You have to also think about your kids and your spouse. I remember having a girlfriend that she was like, “If I find boxers on the floor one more day, I’m going to die.” For her, my advice was, “Well, get a hamper and put it in the middle of the bathroom. Put it somewhere that’s really easy.” Because if you like have to take the boxers downstairs to the hamper in the laundry room, that’s not going to happen.

You have to have to right tools in the right place. That’s what I found is with kids. Okay, so I’m going to admit this, when it was just my two oldest, I had this little storage thing that was labeled, it was great. So the cars went here, the Lego men went here, everything was kind of sorted out. What I’ve realized, subsequent children later, is I just had two baskets. Just throw the toys in the basket and get them done, tuck it away. It bothered me a little bit. We do still have a Lego bin, but for all the other small toys that were coming out, it got too crazy trying to get everybody — it was too hard for them to do it.

You need to find a system that is workable and easy for the people in your life. The big thing is they not only have to have the right tools in the right place, but they have to know where the homes for things are. If you’re creating fabulous places for things to go and no one in your home knows, then that doesn’t help. Which is why labeling is really helpful as well. We just did a complete renovation of most of our downstairs, so we’re still just getting things put away. The tongs were cracking me up. We have these big old blue tongs that I need more than anyone else, but people are using them for whatever it is they happen to be using them for. They keep getting put away in the most random places.

I found myself last night holding up the tongs. I’m like, “To all the people in the Clover household, look at these tongs. These are going to fit in my serving category because I use them for serving. So therefore they are going in this drawer, where all the serving utensils are.” So one day in, they’re in the right spot. But who knows? I just keep reminding people, and sometimes I try to be silly like that to try to remind people. I don’t have labels up right now, but I do tend to label. Even the inside of my refrigerator, to help people know where things should be going, so we don’t have duplicates. There’s all kinds of little techniques like that, that are really helpful for everyone else in the household to kind of get on board and figure things out.

So the book, as I’ve mentioned is labeled M.O.M: Master Organizer of Mayhem. Who would you say that the book is for and how will it benefit them? Give us your sales pitch. I want to sell some books here. Okay?

My sales pitch. Oh, I love it. All right, so this book is really for anyone looking to get a little bit more organized. Whether you have tried and failed at other books or other systems, this book really can help anyone who is organizationally challenged. And even people who have a passion for organizing, it’s fun to learn new techniques and to see how other people are doing it. I do have primarily a mom in mind but anyone can pick up this book. The reason I had a mom in mind is I just felt like the books out there, as I had stated earlier, just were not thinking about –. It is all fine and dandy to declutter and to have a planner, and to do all of these other things that we’re told to do in the organizational world. But if you have little people waking up and destroying everything that you worked on, it doesn’t help.

I really wanted to help people who have other people living in their home. It could just be that you’re married and you’re looking for some advice on how to get two people to function. Boy, you can breeze through this book if it’s just you at home. A lot of time it is everyone else you’re trying to help manage as well, so I try to take that into consideration. Just know that I struggle too, and so this is from the heart of someone who struggles. These are things that when I have these systems working, it is life changing and I get it. It’s not written from someone who’s just totally organized, has always been organized, and has no clue where the struggle points are. I get it. I get how the struggle is there and how it exists, and kind of how to climb out of that spot too.

I would say the flavor of the book — you know, there’s a huge minimalist push in our world.

Yes. It’s big right now.

That comes off a little shaming, frankly. I just feel like, “Oh my gosh, if I’m not a minimalist, I’m horrible.” This book is just not that. You know what I mean? This is just like a heart-filled, practical tips. Like you said, it’s like a mom coming up next to you and going, “Hey, let me share some tips. Let me share how it’s working for me and if this will work for you, I hope it does.” Kristi, not only can they get the book, which they can swipe up on their phone now and find the link to Amazon. I also want to draw people’s attention to your Instagram account, @kristiclover. You have clovers on everything, what the heck? So cool. I was I had a name — my last name’s Trotter, I don’t think I want a horse on all this stuff. It’s weird.

You could. That could be fun.

I guess, yeah. So obviously Instagram and Instagram stories, but I really want to draw people’s attention to your YouTube account. We’ll of course link that in the show notes. But you’ve got videos of how you declutter your garage. I know you’ve just gone through this home renovation that you talked about. Soon, I know they can subscribe now on YouTube, but what can they expect in the future on your YouTube channel that would be something that they would want to watch?

On YouTube, we actually have a whole new theme coming up. My podcast is called Simply Joyful, and on YouTube, we’re calling it Simply Joyful at Home. I’m going to be sharing a lot of the organizational tips that we use to survive the home renovation but also just how we incorporated some of the organizational systems into the design, as well as just home stuff. So here’s an easy meal, here’s some hacks. So a lot of home hacks, and life hacks, and mom hacks and whatever kind of tips.

I love helping people just with practical advice. I do. I’ve been married for twenty-two years. We’ve got five kids. My oldest is seventeen, my youngest is six. I’m still in throes of having little kids, but I get it. I also have older kids, so I’ve been doing this for a while. I love encouraging moms who are just at any stage in their parenting, just to see that there are simpler ways of doing things. Because too often we are stuck watching the same type of perfection on social media that we always see. I want people to step away from that and be like, “I can do this.” And this is how.

I love it. All right, Simply Joyful podcast as well, wherever people get their podcasts. Obviously, we’ll link all that in the show notes. Kristi, thank you. Love your energy, love your organization. I’m really surprised in the background of watching in the video, how messy your house is though. My goodness, the background is a disaster. All that laundry behind you and everything.

Oh, my goodness.

I’m kidding, I’m kidding. There’s no laundry behind Kristi.

There’s flowers.

Thanks for being on the show Kristi, I appreciate it.

Oh, of course. Thank you so much for having me on. This was really fun.

thank you!