KC Davis, author of the new book HOW TO KEEP HOUSE WHILE DROWNING, tells us how to move beyond stepping on LEGOs, confronting towers of dirty dishes, and feeling overwhelmed with a gentler method for home care and self-care.
KC Davis is the creator of the mental health platform Struggle Care, where she shares a revolutionary approach to self and home care for those dealing with mental health, physical illness, and hard seasons of life. She is a licensed professional therapist, author, speaker, and advocate for mental health and recovery. Her new book is How to Keep House While Drowning: A Gentle Approach to Cleaning and Organizing.
Does just glancing in your messy playroom make you want to lie down and nap? We all get overwhelmed when we see our chaotic houses as endless "to-clean" lists that we never complete. KC Davis has simple and easy-to-implement strategies for making cleaning up functional--and giving you small wins along the way that really count.
In this episode, KC, Amy, and Margaret discuss:
Here's where you can find KC:
You can purchase KC's book, How to Keep House While Drowning, here.
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FT 77 - KC Davis
[00:00:00] Hello, everyone. And welcome to fresh take from what fresh hell. Laughing in the face of motherhood. This is Margaret and this is Amy. And today we're talking to KC Davis. She's a creator of the mental health platforms, struggle care, where she shares a revolution. Approach to self and home care for those dealing with mental health, physical illness and hard seasons of life.
KC began her mental health journey at 16. When she entered treatment for drug addiction and mental health issues, she has since become a licensed professional therapist and author a speaker, an advocate for mental health and recovery. TikTok account @ domestic blisters. You've probably seen that cause it has over a million followers and her brand new book is how to keep house while drowning a gentle approach to cleaning and organizing.
Welcome KC . Hi, I'm so glad to be here. Thanks so much for coming on. I. Loved this book. This is like I had the highlighter out and in the intro, we talk about it being [00:01:00] gentle for people in seasons and struggle, but it's also gentle for people like me who are just really struggle in this area of your life every day, which is just, I am a messy person and my house is often a mess.
And I feel a lot of shame around that. And I really enjoyed your. Viewpoint. You talk about housekeeping as care tasks. So can you bring us in by talking about the distinction between those two things? Yeah. So when I started making content and writing. In this space, the intersection of mental health and housekeeping, for lack of a better term.
Right now, one of the first things that I did was start to change the language that I was using around those terms. So instead of saying things like chores or housekeeping, I began to refer to them as caretakers. And that kind of helps us recenter, like what we're doing, because for so many women, especially those of us who were socialized [00:02:00] as women and present as women, we really tend to internalize our worthiness with how we're able to keep house, particularly as mothers.
Yes. And so housekeeping becomes this kind of performative act. Where it's the measure by which we're doing good enough. And that creates this coin and tends to put people on one side or the other. And that's why I say it's like two sides of the same coin either. We end up sort of exhausting ourselves, trying to keep everything perfect.
And we're sort of run by this shame that we know we'll feel if we let things get quote unquote out of hand. And so we never stopped. We never rest. We have anxiety, we're kind of irritable and fighting at people. And we're constantly sort of at odds with the people in our family because they're messing up the space.
Right. And we're trying to keep the space looking like a magazine cover because somewhere we got the message that is. [00:03:00] Integral to whether we're fulfilling our role in our family. I think that's right. You said we internalize it, but we also externalize it, right? Like I go to other people's house and I'm like, look at this perfect person.
They must be. Better person than me on some fundamental level. And then the other side of that coin is that same message that same internalizing externalizing, except on that side is someone who looks at the enormity of the tasks and just get so overwhelmed that they don't even want to start.
And so I call this sort of the under-functioning overfunctioning. Yes, which is okay, my house isn't working for me and I'm so overwhelmed by what it would take to get it under control that I just have sort of thrown up my hands. This is someone who maybe is struggling with mental health issues or ADHD, or, you know, they just feel like everything is so.
Just overwhelming that they just go, you know, I don't even want to start to snap possible. Well, this was a real [00:04:00] aha moment for me, KC reading this book because I mean, I think we all struggle with mass and the sort of unending ness of it all, but I've probably find it easier to keep my home. Neat. I look at my mother-in-law whose house is always spotless, but she finds relaxation.
Enjoy and keeping a perfect house. You know, she hums while she wipes her counters. She finds relaxation in that. And you talk in the book about, you have a friend whose house is always perfect, but she can't get her act together for her business. And you've got all the time in the world for your business, but your kitchen's a mess and that it's not better or worse.
It's where we find relaxation is not necessarily the same places. Yeah. And I say a lot in, you know, I think I mentioned in my book, but I say a lot, especially with my social channels. Sometimes there's so much pressure to be perfect and have everything look a certain way that they're sort of arises this backlash content where we say, actually messy is good.
Actually, this is real life. Actually, people who clean their houses all the time. Perfect [00:05:00] houses. They ignore their children. And I like to sort of avoid that pitfall because the truth is, is that there are people that can keep a very neat and tidy home, and that brings them peace and joy. And they're able to do that while being engaged with their family while being present for those fun moments.
Like in the book I talk about, my friend says, you know, I just kind of float around. Yeah, I just kind of float around my house, you know, engaging my family, picking up a little here, making a meal, doing a little laundry and you know, that works for them. And then there are people that are messy to the hill.
I would also say I'm happy. I'm happy. My house functions. I'm here present with my family. We'll deal with the paint on the walls later. And you could say the same thing and just sort of cock it to the other side and go. There are also people keeping a museum where they house that can only do so out of anxiety.
Not present with their families that are, do have families [00:06:00] begging them, just sit down and watch a movie with us, but they can't stay still. And there are people whose homes are messy and unfunctioning, that are in a lot of distress. Right. And so I always say like this isn't about whether having a messy house or a clean house is superior that's antithetical to my whole message.
My point is it's more. Neutral. It doesn't have this generalized connection to whether you're quote unquote, doing good or doing bad. It might be the case for certain individual people. But the reality is I don't care whether your home is clean or messy. I care if you're in pain, I care if you're in distress.
I recently that really stuck out to me in the book. And I recently heard this phrase morally neutral in another context, and it has been one of the most useful phrases that has been introduced to my adult life. I have some OCD tendencies. I like to touch things and keep things in order in my mind, [00:07:00] by counting, you know, bites and fours and you know, some OCD behavior.
And I was speaking to. Mental health professional about this. And she said, because I was like, it's crazy. The stuff I do, it's really nutty and it's crazy. And it's, and I was bringing all my, like, shame about it to her. And she said to me, everything you're doing is completely morally neutral. If it helps you to count bites and tens, or to touch the doorway, as you leave to help you feel safe, that's a morally neutral activity.
And when I read it in the book, I realized like I bring it. The same thing to housekeeping that like, I'm good when my house is ordered and neat, and everyone comes over and oohs and aahs about how clean it is, but I'm bad when it's a mess and someone stops by and they see eight coats on the floor. . Can you talk a little bit more about what you mean by morally neutral? So what I mean by morally neutral is that a thing is not good, bad, right or wrong in and of it.
[00:08:00] That your participation in it doesn't make you morally superior. Your struggle with it does not make you morally inferior. So if we take cleaning, for example, someone who finds cleaning very easy, someone who is often motivated to clean someone who has the time and energy. Bodily ability to clean in such a way that keeps all of their house clean.
That person is not a better character than someone who either doesn't like to clean or struggles to clean or doesn't have the bodily or mental capacity to clean. And I think when we recognize that it allows us to step back and say, who am I really doing this for? Am I doing this? Because I feel shame when it's not done.
And I feel like I'm worthy when it is done. Or am I seeing these as care tasks, just as things to do to care for me. And the big slogan of my platform is that you don't exist to serve your space. Your space exists to serve you. [00:09:00] That's the paradigm shift we're trying to make, because if I'm running around and I see my home as needing to be governed by these rules, right?
Laundry has to be done a certain way. Dishes should be done a certain way. The house should always look a certain way. And I'm basically just this little ping pong ball like it, or like the pinball machines. And I'm just constantly running around. Care tasks aren't done in this binary they're done, or they're not done they're cycles.
So we have to kind of constantly be turning these cycles. I always use dishes, for example, like dishes aren't done or not done, dishes actually have five different stages in the life cycle of a dish. A dish is in your cabinet. Ready to be. Uh, dishes out and being used or has just been used. A dish is maybe by the sink waiting to be cleaned.
A dish is being cleaned and a dishes waiting to be put away. And all of that he's allowed to be in any of those stages. There's not a stage that addition. And that means that you're doing [00:10:00] well. Right. It sounds funny, but yeah, when they exist in that stage, you're not, we really actually do this in our mind.
Like, it sounds ridiculous, but it's so true that we're like the dish on the table is a bad dish from a bad person. Like yes. We're anthropomorphizing a dish. Yes. Ditches don't judge. And. The point of, you know, your space is to care for you. So instead of looking at that, as I'm not allowed to leave any dishes out, and they're only acceptable places for a dish to be as maybe in the dishwasher or in the cabinet, if you see all of those phases just as morally neutral, then my job becomes to sort of turn the wheel in such a way that number one produces clean dishes.
And number two allows me to enjoy my life. That's those are the two goals. Right? And so when those are the only two goals, then I can kind of go well, okay. So if I'm [00:11:00] experiencing some barriers to turning that cycle in the quote unquote normal way, in what ways can I get creative or out of the box to create a dish system that works for me?
And I did this in really small steps for me. So the first thing I said was, you know, I have a tendency to leave dishes everywhere. Like there are literally two cups on this counter from, we see them right now. People you can't see KC , but she's holding up to, I believe dirty dishes. Oh yeah. They're dirty.
One of them has a smoothie in it, so that's going to start smelling really good. Yes. Calcify too. But the first thing that I was like, okay, when I'm done with the dish, do my best to just bring it to the sink. That's it. That's the only thing I'm asking of myself and that actually. Increased my level of functioning because things weren't getting left out as much.
And after I did that for a while and it became automatic, I thought, well, but here's, what's frustrating is that I'm finding that whenever I get a lot of dishes in my sink, I don't have access to my sink and it makes it harder to clean things. It makes it harder to cook. And so then I started stacking them up on the side.[00:12:00]
And then after a while I was walking through an Ikea and I saw this dish rack and I have a dishwasher, so I've never used a dish rack and I saw it and I just had this sort of idea. You know, one of the things that's always really helped me when I felt overwhelmed by dishes was like organizing my dirty dishes before I started to clean them.
And I realized that if I were to get this dish rack and I were to sort of instruct my whole family, like, Hey, when you're done with a dish, you don't have to clean it. You don't have to put it in the dishwasher. You don't have to do any of this, just come and put it on the. Um, and so as we go throughout the day, we put our dirty dishes on this rack.
And so what happens is at the end of the day, they're organized because I realized that my barrier to dishes was feeling overwhelmed at all of them down in the sink. And if I organized them, I didn't feel overwhelmed. And so now at the end of the day, I'm not really procrastinating as much putting those dishes up because we'll there, they are, they're laid out.
It doesn't look like so much anymore. And I actually bought a second silverware catty. Like I looked up the [00:13:00] brand of my dishwasher and I got a silverware caddy because the other barrier for me is I hate to unload the dishwasher. I procrastinate it. But then of course, that's the stop gap, right? The bottleneck that gets everything up.
And so I put this second catty on the side of the dish because I also realized that when it came to do the dishes, what I was hating was sticking my hands into that gross water and having to fish out the silver ones. Oh, yes. So now when we're done with dishes, we put the dirty dish in the rack and we put the silverware straight into the extra caddy so that when it comes time at night to do what I call my closing duties, I unload the dishwasher and then I can literally just switch the caddies out.
And then I'm not overwhelmed by the organized dirty dishes to stick them straight into the washer. And this is something that I never would have come up with how I believe that my job was to work for my space because dishes have rules. You don't put dirty dishes on a rack, you know, dirty dishes are wrong.
Look at what a mess. This is [00:14:00] when I realized that the only purpose of dishes is to serve me and my family and create clean dishes for us, then I could kind of go, you know, My barrier is I don't like to unload the dishwasher. I feel overwhelmed with a lot of dishes on the sink and I don't like to get my hands gross to go for the silverware.
And instead of judging those barriers, like I'm not allowed to have those, or I shouldn't have them, or I should just push past it. I should just figure it out. What if I just took a step back and went, okay, that's the barrier? What if I just pretended that was a legitimate barrier? What if that was as legitimate as I broken my arm?
Is there a way I can create a ritual or routine that just circumvents that hard stuck part for. Sometimes there's not. And I have to find ways to sort of push through. But as human beings, we have a limited amount of push through. Like, I've got like 10 push through points a day. Right. And there are more important things that I'm going to have to just like grit my teeth and push through.
So [00:15:00] anything that I can eliminate needing to use those points on. Is going to increase my functioning, my satisfaction of my life and in our house remaining a calm and respectful parent is I need to save the majority of my push through points for that, because I'm trying to do the work. I go to therapy.
I do these things, but the reality is sometimes I just have to bite my tongue and walk away in order to not scream or be mean. I want to put a fine point on that. We are talking to KC Davis, the author of how to keep house while drowning, and we're going to be right back.
I think this idea of dishes are they're done, or they're not done like breaking this down is actually like a total revelation that like we, our dishwasher broke recently. And so we've been having, like, we've basically followed into complete chaos. We're basically like the sun has gone out. Like we do not know how to function without a [00:16:00] dishwasher.
And this idea of like the dishes are piling up and. It's the story just starts to percolate in your mind of like, we can't function. Everything's out of control. We have lost control. And it's just like, what if you were able to break it down? And one of the things we finally did was move to compostable plates.
Cause we're just like, oh, we can actually solve this another way without dishes becoming completely overwhelming. Another thing that I love that you talk about in the book is. Being kind to your future self, because it's not, when I picked up the book, I thought it was going to be like, let it go. It's fine.
Don't worry so much about it. And it's really not. It's like, here's a practical way to get some of this done. So talk to us a little bit about being kind to your future self. So I always thought about doing things around my house. Almost just like punishment for having lived there, like, correct. That is so well said, like, okay.
[00:17:00] Yeah, that was nice that my kids and I got all the paints out and painted butterflies to decorate for spring, or that was really nice that I let them play in the sand. And that was really nice that we had this big, nice dinner, but now I have to pick. After it's time to pay. And so everything was picking up after ourselves cleaning up after ourselves.
And it was like the reward and the payout already happened. And it's so much harder to then sort of rally to client on Ohio. Cause everything is after. And it also put me in this reactive state of, you know, something happens and now I have to do this or we have to do this. So that was part of it. And then the other part of it was.
You know, there were times where I'd be sitting there and I'd be staring at the dishes in the sink and I'd think I'm going to hate myself tomorrow. If I don't do that, shame is motivator. And it was just this, like, I feel shame at looking at those dishes. And so I'm going to let that shame just sort of like berate me until I move into action.
And I had this moment for a [00:18:00] long time. My husband would wake up really early on Sunday mornings. And this is what I talk about in the book and wake up with our kids so that I could sleep. And even though I would struggle most of the nights to get care tasks done. For some reason, when it came to Saturday night, I always found myself being like, well, you know what?
I don't like doing dishes, but I know how frustrating it is to wake up with the kids and not be able to find like the cups for their meals. And like having to like go under the, you know, couch and get like the curdled one. And then you're like furiously hand-washing and the hottest water you can find while they cry.
And so I would think, I don't want him to go through that. So I'll make sure that I at least load up the milk cups into the dishwasher and I'll make sure that he has enough counter space to make breakfast. And I realized that I was doing these things out of a motivation of kindness. Towards him because I love him and I appreciate everything he does.
And because I want to relieve some stress from him and it just kind of hit me one night as I was doing this. Why is it that my attitude towards my husband setting up this, [00:19:00] the area for success for him was from a place of kindness. But when it came to setting up the area for success for myself, it was from a place of shame and obligation and, you know, almost berating myself for having lived.
And what's funny is that I find the motivation of kindness so much more motivating. And so I started realizing, you know, what, if I were to think that way about myself doing a few things in the evening to sort of shut down the kitchen as a way of being kind to morning, me and I called them closing duties because I used to work in a restaurant.
I was going to say, that's waitress terminology, right? Yeah. It is, and everyone who's worked in a restaurant has had the experience of coming in, in the morning, ready to go and things aren't set up for you. And you're like,
and so I found myself, it's like the same thing. Like I would wake up in the morning and I look around, I'd be like, Ooh, clothes last night. And that'd be like, oh, I [00:20:00] did. And so this idea of what if I were to think of doing things in the evening as a kindness to morning, Because I'm the opener and I deserve to be set up for success.
I deserve to function in my own space. And so I started calling them closing duties because that almost took the morality out of it because I would think about, well, I'd never had trouble doing my closing duties at work. Right. You can want to do them or not wanting to do them. They just, you had to them before you could go home.
And you just did them, but why is it that it's so much harder for me to do things like that at home? And so I started sort of unpacking that. And part of it was the terminology. It was the closing duties feels morally neutral, cleaning your kitchen feels like an obligation and a duty. And if you don't do it, you're bad.
And then the second part was that closing duties was fine. There's only, you know, a list of five things that you had to do, and then you were done, whereas cleaning my kitchen or picking up the playroom or cleaning my house felt infinite. Like you could clean for six hours and probably could still find more things to clean in your kitchen.
16 [00:21:00] hours. Yes. For sure. Yeah. And then the third part was this idea that. You end up sort of doing them quickly cause you want to go home afterwards, you clock out afterwards. And so I started doing this. I started thinking, okay, what are the things that I absolutely need first thing in the morning to function because I actually don't need the crumbs vacuumed up from the stove to function.
First thing in the morning, I just really need like a clean trashcan, like a clear, like a new bag. I need enough dishes to do breakfast. I need enough counter space to safely prepare food and I need to be mentally stable. So I need to take my medication. And then I just made this list of like five things.
If I did these four or five things in the evening, I'd be set up for success here. And I started doing them. My husband would. Our kids to bed or kids to bed at like 7, 7 30. And while he was doing that, I would start doing these closing duties and it only took me about 25 to 30 minutes. And I'm finishing at seven [00:22:00] 30 and I'm clocking out.
So it doesn't matter if the playroom's a mess. If the laundry is not done, if this is that. And the other, when I finished my closing duties, I clock out as a mom. I don't get more things. I don't clean more things. I don't do more things. I use the rest of the evening to rest, to recreate, to have fun with my husband, to watch TV, to do something that I like to do.
And so it was this like all in one whammy where I was reclaiming some adult time as an adult. I was having this time to be who I was as a person outside of my role as caretaker and my family, I was being kind to my future self and setting myself up for success. I was allowing myself to have less stress in the morning and it start all of this started with one task.
Like I didn't jump right to five things. It started with one task, which was to unload and reload my dishwasher at seven o'clock every evening. And even if I ate afterwards, like I would frequently do my closing duties and then make dinner for me and my husband and then dinner dishes would wait until the next night at seven o'clock.
I was [00:23:00] that like, I wasn't rigid, like I had to be, but it was like that. I felt like, no, I actually do get to clock out at seven 30. And if you eat a bowl of cereal at 7 35, it goes on the dirty dish rack and it waits until. And I think that's, it's so mentally important. We, I was just doing an episode about kids' bedtimes.
And I said, for me, I don't really care when your kid goes to bed, but I knew that if I didn't know when my kid was going to bed, the night could go to 11. O'clock like, I need to know my clock-out time. I think that's right. And I love that idea of closing duties. Cause it is it's your clock out. Can you tell us a little bit about the five things tidying method.
I love this because I wrote it on a post-it and I put it on my wall. I mean, this is a game changer folks. Listen up. Yeah, it's a game changer. I like, I tidy any space because I get overwhelmed very easily. And I first want to explain, like, why that's overwhelming for me, because I think a lot of people can relate and it helps sort of elucidate how powerful the five things are.
So when I look at a space that's [00:24:00] really, really messy, really, really cluttered. And I think, oh my God, there are a thousand things here. So I have ADHD. I had some postpartum depression. And both of those things really affect what we refer to as executive functioning. It's the part of your brain. That's responsible for time management, working memory prioritization, task initiation sequencing, and ordering tasks.
And there are lots of other things that can do that too. Sleep deprivation and stress. So chances are almost everybody listening has at least having periods of their time when their executive functioning is sort of struggling, not so good. And so I would look at this, oh my gosh, there's a million things.
And I'd be like, I'd make myself do it. And it would feel like it was all of a sudden I become a thousand pounds heavier and I go and I make myself pick up a thing and I pick up. So first I had to make a decision to pick something up. What do I pick up first? I don't know. Just be okay. I've now made a decision.
Now I'm holding this thing and I have to look at it and I have to decide what this thing is. So, you know, information has to travel through my eyes, into my brain and go, [00:25:00] oh, this is what. Then I have to go, where does this book go? And if this book has a place to go, I then have to walk to that place, which might be out of the room, but that place up, and then I might see something on the way that also needs to be done and get distracted.
And then I have to decide, Ooh, am I going to keep going? Am I going to do that thing? What should I do? I've already made about 15 decisions and I'm in like major decision fatigue. Right. So, and God help us if it doesn't have. Because then I'm going to stare at it and go, where do I put this? And I'm going to go, well, maybe I could put it in this closet and I opened the closet and it's a mess.
And I go, well, maybe I should reorganize the closet first. Well, in order to do that, I really should decide which of these coats fit in which don't. So I started trying on coats, right? So I'm not moving very fast. I'm not seeing a lot of progress. So I want to quit the whole time. I don't feel like I have a roadmap I'm having major decision fatigue.
So here's what I started doing that really, really helps this. When I see the thousand things, I tell myself, there are not a thousand things in here. There are only five things in any room. There are [00:26:00] trash dishes, laundry things that have a place that are not in the place and things that don't have a. And I start category by category in whatever room I'm in and I don't leave that room.
So before we even go into the room, I go get a trash bag and a laundry basket and maybe an extra basket. Right. And I get my trash bag and I walk around and I just look for tracks. And it almost makes me feel like those video games, like where you're a drone and it's like di di di di di di di di di terminals.
Terminator. Yeah. Yes. And it's like locking in. So I'm automating this process. There are really no decisions being made, except is this trash is this trash is this trash and I'm throwing things away in the bag that I'm holding. So I'm not even walking back and forth to the trash can. So I'm going trash, trash, trash, trash, trash.
And while I'm doing that, I fill out the trash. And then I just set it down in the room and then I get my dishes and I started picking up my dishes and putting them in the sink. You could even put them into a bus tub or something like that. If you're in a different room. [00:27:00] And then, and I don't do the dishes, I just get them down.
And then I get my laundry basket and I put all of the laundry. And maybe shoes too into that laundry basket. I put that down and now I kind of even take it smaller. So then maybe I'll walk up to my desk. And once you've removed trash dishes and laundry, the only things left on that desk are items that need to be put away.
And some of those items have a place. And so I start there. Picking up anything that has a place and just putting it back immediately because there's no thinking involved there. And then I ended up with a pile of things that don't have a place. And I just leave that pile there and move on to the next space.
Okay. Here's this bookcase, here's this one corner of the room in the end. What I've done is in a very, very quick manner, made the space very livable. I've given myself multiple little finish lines that feel good and rewarding and productive to cross. And I'm left with this pile of things that need a place.
This is the real things that I have to think about that are frustrating. They get me easily distracted and some days I just choose to put those things in a [00:28:00] basket and set it to the side and be done and go on with my life. And some things I go, okay, let's put on a Netflix show and sit down and really start to figure out what can this, can I get rid of what can I sort of purge?
What can I find a permanent space for? And so this is the way that I go about tidying up and it's really shortened the time. The other thing I love about it is that I've heard so many people that struggle with care tasks. Talk about that struggle originating in childhood. When their parents would yell at them about a messy room and close the door and go clean this up or else, and they're sitting in their room and they're looking around.
And they don't know what to do. I mean, we assume that tidying up is so intuitive, but here's a child looking around and they're overwhelmed and they don't know how to start and nobody has showed them. So they don't know how, and I'll never forget the time that my daughter took all of the diapers out of her diaper bin and they were spread all around and I got really frustrated and I said, put the diapers back.
And she said, I can't. And I was like, yes, you grew it. Right. [00:29:00] So we'd get into this argument because she's saying I can't, I can't, she starts crying and I'm thinking. Yes, you physically can pick these diapers up and put them away. And we go back and forth until she finally burst into tears and says, but there's too many.
I can't hold them off. And I realized that what she thought I was saying was pick them all up at once and put them into this bin. Like kids are so literal and kids don't have the same kind of flexible thing. And problem-solving so that, because that seemed like the only way to do it. And she didn't feel like she could do that.
She felt like she couldn't do it at all, which is funny because that's honestly what we do. Right. And so I realized she's not unwilling. She's just overwhelmed. And we are too. Yes. Baby. You don't have to pick them all up at once. Pick up one, pick up one diaper. And so I broke it down to these tiny steps. I said, pick up one diaper.
And she picked up one diaper and I said, put it in the bin. [00:30:00] And she put it in the bin. I said, now pick up one more diaper. I literally had to walk her through it like that. She went, oh, like in that little, two year old voice. Right. And put them all in. I actually, actually, she might've been three at the time.
And so a lot of people actually have these childhood experience. And one of the great gifts of the five things tidying method is that my children understand it. So the other day I began picking up and my daughter says, you know, can I help? Which if we're all being honest with ourselves, when they're very, very small, their help is not actually help.
And there's something about that phrase that just like sets off alarm bells, because number one, we feel like we have to say yes, Again, just be like such a bad mom would be like now, but number two, we know that we're just like, oh, okay. You just like doubled your workload. Cause you have to do what you were doing and like teach someone how to do it, include them at how to do it.
And like probably they're going to make it take longer. We're going to take a break there. And when we come back, we're going to talk about including kids in the five things method we're talking to [00:31:00] KC Davis. Okay, we're back. And KC , one of the positives of the five things method as we were talking about before the break is that this is the way you can introduce kids to helping clean.
Talk a little bit about that for us. So it's a lot easier for children to understand like one step at a time. And. And first of all, I want to say it's totally valid to sometimes say no to kids when they ask if they can help. Like, we're really not like morally obligated to say yes, every single time as important as it is for me to include my child and my children into care tasks and show them how it's done.
It's equally as important that I be modeling what boundaries look like, and what's showing up authentically. It looks like because how many of us would say, oh, we're pretty good at serving others, but we're not really good at saying no. Right. So I actually want my daughter to see me go, actually, I'm too frustrated to do this genuinely right now.
Actually [00:32:00] I'm a little. In a Headspace where mommy just needs to feel productive. So I love you, but no, I would prefer you go play while I do this and having that good balance. That's right. Because we hear from people all the time, like, oh, well mate, have your kids clean up and have them do it. I think that's a really interesting pushback that it doesn't always have to.
But I'm going to take the other side of that, but we had, Michaelene do cleft on the show and she makes the argument, which I think is valid that a two year old really wants to help and participate. And an eight year old doesn't and it's a pain in the touch to have the two year old help. But if you want an eight year old, who knows how to help, then you have a two year old, you get them involved while they can.
But it's also, I would agree totally valid, but like that it is often much easier to do it without them, but here's why I'm so excited because that is true. But here's the counterintuitive. Place to make that true in order for me to say yes with enthusiasm, I have to say no with confidence. So if I feel obligated to say yes, every single time, my kid wants to help, [00:33:00] I'm going to be doing.
From this sort of lackluster. Okay. And then I'm going to get impatient and then I'm going to be frustrated. And so for me, what I have found is that I have to model both an enthusiastic yes. And a confident no. And that if I'm finding myself not able to say the enthusiastic yes. What that tells me isn't that I need to try harder to be the nice mommy.
It's actually a check-in for me that maybe I'm not saying no enough. I'm not taking care of myself enough. And so I need to be able to be saying no with confidence because they can pick up on that anxiety when you're like, ah, I just, I'm sorry, honey. Sometimes I do. Instead of going, you know what, sweetheart?
No, thank you to. So that tomorrow when you ask, cause first of all, you don't want to pick up on that anxiety because they want to know it's perfectly okay to ask. So tomorrow when she asks I can go. Absolutely. Yeah, let's do it together. Right? Cause tomorrow you have the bandwidth to do the lesson on the diapers.
It's not every time, but what happens then when you have an eight or [00:34:00] 10 year old who is no longer, can I please help you clean the kitchen when they stop asking? And you want buy-in, how does this five things methods. Is there a family expectation that everybody. At an age appropriate level, I think. Yeah.
So what does that look like? So I think for the reason what the five things tidying method, because even at the age of eight, you know, you still don't have the brain formulation to sort of figure out this process by yourself. So, but I can tell a child we're going to pick up all the trash, everyone go find the trash.
Right. Or you can put on a song and say for this song, we're finding the trash. You can go, we're all gonna race. And whoever gets, you know, the right, the biggest amount of trash items and, you know, okay, now we're going to do it. So walking them through that process category by category, by category, children can grasp that children can get into that built full overwhelm.
And the other part is that my child wants to do things with. And if I capitalize on that at this age, then [00:35:00] she will begin to associate doing things with mom as having that quality time with mom, which is why it's so important to me, that I preserve that as a time when I can be patient and engaged. And I don't actually, I don't play a lot.
I'm not a mom that plays pretend I don't really play with toys. I dislike it. I'm not good at it. And I find that I in. What would naturally be unfolding in their play. And so I'm not a mom that plays, pretend I will sit with you. I will watch, I will ask questions about your play. And instead, I try to funnel those really important connective playful moments into the care tasks that we're doing about our day.
So as we are making dinner together, as we are sitting and eating together as I'm cleaning and we're talking and we're, so that. My kid isn't having this experience of playtime is fun, but when mom makes us clean up, that's the real drag, because that I think can make this impression of you. Aren't eight, 10, and 11 year old, and you [00:36:00] have that aspect of fun is fun.
And then we clean. After ourselves, as opposed to trying. And I don't do this perfectly by any means, but this is sort of my value is that playing is fun and cleaning may not be as fun, but it's not this like burdensome. This is when mom gets angry and starts throwing things, because I don't want to imprint this anxiety around cleaning with my kids.
And I also want to say that, you know, for the first. Probably three years of my youngest lives. I didn't ask my kids to do anything. And there were times when I would feel this shame. Cause people would say like, well, you should be teaching your kids to clean up after you. But the reality is, is like when it was a pandemic, I had just had a baby.
I was overwhelmed. I had undiagnosed ADHD and postpartum depression and it was already a lot to try and just keep our home functioning without the added burden of. You know, [00:37:00] crappy mom, because I'm not teaching them how to do this and realizing that just because I'm not teaching them right now, doesn't mean I'm never going to teach them in their whole life.
Right. Just because in this postpartum period, or even in this year, I'm not teaching them. Doesn't mean I can't teach them next year when I'm in a different place. And one thing I want to underline because it made so much sense to me in a kind of, I can't believe I haven't thought of this before way is that my kids are now 13, 12, and 10.
And I often say you guys clean the living room. I'm going into work on the dishes. And then I come back out and it's still messy and they're sitting back around and I'm like, I told you to clean in here. But if I went in, if I broke it down to five steps where I went in and I say, Okay. While I'm doing the dishes, I want you to pick up every piece of trash.
Then I could come in and say, oh, I see two pieces of trash that aren't done. Okay. Let's do that. Then I come back and I say, okay, anything, that's laundry, there's a basket in the corner that breaking it down. It's not that it makes it cause I w I'm worried [00:38:00] about being like, cause it makes it fun. It doesn't make it fun.
It makes it functional though. It makes it. It makes it doable. Which to me, that's the chasm that I'm often, even though I've had my kids helping clean up since they were little, this is a chasm. We have trouble crossing. This is a great solution. And the other thing that I did, especially for my kids, cause they're really young is when we talked about that idea of play as play and then there's cleaning up after ourselves.
I don't make my kids clean up at the end of the day. I don't make them clean up a mess right after they make it. I actually, especially for really little kids, I flip it. You can play and make a mess all day long. I actually will wait until there is a functional reason that they will be able to internalize give us an example of that.
So I let my kids be as messy as possible. And then my kid will trip or she'll step on a leg. Where she won't be able to find somebody should be looking for the costumes. She can't find it. It's in the mess. Yeah. And that's when I take the opportunity to [00:39:00] come in and go, oh my gosh, I'm so sorry. There's a lot of Legos around here before we play this game.
Let's get up all of our Legos. So we're not stepping on them. So I'm connecting the functionality and the care of self directly to this task and small children don't have. Called delayed gratification. So the idea of clean up the room tonight, so that tomorrow it'll be fun. They can't really put that together.
So I'm really shortening that gratification of, yeah, we'll play a game in about 10 minutes, but let's pick this up because you just hurt yourself. And I want that to be their internal sense. And that may not pay off immediately. And I always say that, you know, if I raise a kid that never cleans their room in 18 years, but then when they hit 26 and realize it matters to them to have a functional environment, has the skills to do so.
And an uncomplicated relationship with care task, to be able to carry it out, I've succeeded. If I raise a kid that cleans their room every single day til [00:40:00] the day they're 18, but then leaves and doesn't ever do it again because they don't really know how to do it from their own sense of motivation. And they don't have the skills to break it down.
That to me, isn't success. And I'm not saying it has to be one or the other, but just, I'm just using the extreme sort of do that. And so putting that before. You know, allowing them to have some consequences, you know? Okay. You left the cap off that marker. Oh yeah. See, he's like a stride up. And then I create some boundaries around that.
So like outside, I got tired of telling my kids don't take the sand out of the sandbox because I was feeling this anxiety of I'm going to have to buy more sand. Right. Right or I don't want to attract him. So what I started doing was telling them, you know, what, like, it actually is important for their development to have like a yes space where they can do whatever they want.
They're getting so creative with the sand. So I started telling them, right, here's the deal, babe. I will refill your sandbox twice. I will do that for you only twice a year. I'm not going to spend, you know, $30 every month to refill it. So you need to start thinking about, [00:41:00] you know, if you want to take all that sand out of the sandbox and not return any of it and spread it all over the yard, and then you're gonna have an empty sandbox.
And even though they're really little, and they're not going to be able to necessarily pace themselves, they're going to experience that. Result of, oh, I don't have any sand now and I'm going to tell them it's not a punishment. It's just a matter of fact, like, yeah. Right. It's just a natural consequence of your behavior.
Yeah. And little by little that will allow them to begin to think about, well, I really want this sand cause I want my kids thinking about the functionality of their space and their enjoyment and their care.
Not just thinking about, am I following the rules? Will I get in trouble? Will mom be mad at me? Obviously that's a part of it because we're human. Sure. But I really want to teach them. And I have to tell you, teaching them in this way does make for a messier house right now, it does make for more whining because they don't have sand.
It does make for a little more work. And that's why I say, like, I'm [00:42:00] not even telling you that this is a morally superior way to do it because if you're in a really tough spot and you're just in survival mode, like I was for three years, I wasn't doing any of this for three years. Because I just had different priorities.
I had priorities of survival and kindness. And once I got a little more capacity right now, I'm in therapy, I'm on meds. I started working some which really helps me with myself. I got better childcare. Now I have the capacity to think about some of these higher level things about how can I teach them to one.
You know, tasks, we always have to prioritize what we need to do in our seasons and friends. This book is chock-full. There are so many great tips. KC , tell us where we can find the book and where we can find.
So I am at domestic blisters on Tik TOK. This is the channel that I post every day on. Fantastic guys. I love your tick talks. They're great. Thank you. I'm also on Facebook and Instagram under struggle [00:43:00] care. A good sort of centralized location is my website, which has struggled care.com. From there. You can see all the places where my book is being offered.
All of the different retailers. From there, you can link to my socials. You can check out my shop where I have some different workbooks. I have a care task template there for children that my kids use, where they have little icons that they kind of move it. When they're done like a little baby closing list, You can get things like decluttering lists. I even have an online course for cleaning. Crushing house, which takes you step-by-step. So all those things are really on my website is a great sort of starting point and some free resources for care tasks.
Fantastic. I can't say enough about this book guys. I loved it. Check it out. And KC , thank you so much for talking to us today. Thanks, KC . Thank you. .