Tracy McCubbin is an author, CEO, and founder of dClutterfly, Los Angeles' premier organizing and decluttering company. She's also Co-Executive Director of OneKid OneWorld, a non-profit supporting education in impoverished communities.

399: Declutter! Making Space for Happiness 

Tracy McCubbin

Sometimes we get all excited to declutter and then the stuff just…comes back! We manage to re-clutter—especially with kids around. Why does it seem like spaces never remain decluttered for long? Professional organizer and author Tracy McCubbin helps us understand why this happens and how to interrupt the cycle for more ease in our homes and more confidence and connection in our lives. 

Declutter! Making Space for Happiness - Tracy McCubbin [399]

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*This is an auto-generated transcript*

[00:00:00] Tracy McCubbin: Your home is a tool. Your home is a tool that supports you, that gives you rest, that replenishes your family. And if the clutter is out of control, it's not doing that any.

[00:00:16] Hunter: You are listening to the Mindful Mama podcast, episode number 399. Today we're talking about decluttering and making space for happiness with Tracy McCubbin.

Welcome to the Mindful Mama podcast. Here it's about becoming a less irritable, more joyful parent. At Mindful Mama, we know that you cannot give what you do not have. And when you have calm and peace within, then you can give it to your children. I'm your host, hunter Clark Fields. I help smart, thoughtful parents stay calm so they can have strong, connected relationships with their children.

I've been practicing mindfulness for over 20 years. I'm the creator of Mindful Parenting, and I'm the author of the best selling book, raising Good Humans, A Mindful Guide to Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Parenting, and Raising kind confident kids.

Welcome back, my friend. Glad you are here. I know that decluttering is a fan favorite here at the Mindful Mama podcast world in Mindful Parenting. We talk about decluttering in our final module of Mindful Parenting because making your home environment a simplified, less stressed home environment makes such a big difference for your kids.

So I know that you are going to love this conversation. Today I talked to professional organizer and author Tracy McCubbin. She is author of the book Making Space Clutter Free, the last book on Decluttering You'll Ever Need, and we're going to talk about her new book Making Space for Happiness. And in today's conversation we talk about how the stuff just comes back sometimes, right?

We get excited, we're gonna declutter and the stuff just comes back that I could be raising my hand definitely for this one. We really managed to declutter. So today we're gonna talk about why it is that spaces never remain decluttered for long, and we're gonna talk about how to interrupt that cycle for more ease in our homes and more confidence and connection in our whole lives.

So this goes even beyond the home. I think you're gonna find this conversation really fascinating. I really found it really fascinating. I learned a lot about myself. I know you will too. Let's dive in. Join me at the table as I talk to Tracy McCubbin.

Welcome to the Mindful Mama podcast. So glad you can be here.

[00:02:51] Tracy McCubbin: Thank you. Thank you so much for having

[00:02:53] Hunter: me, hunter. So this audience, like my listeners, tell me all the time that we love love decluttering, simplifying episodes, and I love it too. So I am, I know you love it. You've written two books on it.

How did you get, become interested in decluttering and

[00:03:13] Tracy McCubbin: teaching it to others? I'm such a, I'm one of those people that my path to my passion was circuitous. I did a lot of jobs and I was like, oh, this isn't for me. I'd been a data processor and I'd been a secretary, and I'd been a personal assistant for two different people, and I loved it.

When I was working on my last personal assistant job, I would get calls from friends of the person that I was working for oh, can you help me? My business closed. I need to go through my paperwork. Like all these little jobs started coming. And a friend of mine was like, I think you have a business.

And I was like, what? But what do I do? And he is you get people organized. And I was like, this is a pay thing. So I created a website and as I like to joke, cause it was 15 years ago, my little flip phone started blowing up and I just took off from there. And one of the things for me that when I started my business, I never realized, which is hilarious.

I'm the child of a hoarder. My dad has extreme hoarding disorder. So I've spent my whole life watching someone navigate their relationship to their stuff. And so when I started working with clients, I very quickly was like, oh no, this is almost all emotional. This isn't about stuff. This is guilt about spending money or scarcity mindset, or if we don't look at the emotions about why we're attached to stuff and why we bring stuff in, the decluttering doesn't matter.

So that's my approach.

[00:04:42] Hunter: So when growing up with a hoarder, so did you, were you like really averse to stuff and clutter? Is that kind of, was that something that drove you? For

[00:04:53] Tracy McCubbin: sure. I, it took me a while to, to put it all together because we bury our, what's right in front of our face.

But definitely I like order, I, if I have a tough day or if there's something going on, you'll find me in my closet like color coding. It just calms me down. I think the interesting thing that it really gave me insight into and working with clients for all these years is that it's never about having a perfect house.

It's not possible. It's especially with kids and life. And my stepdaughter was just with us for six months and I was like, I'm not even going in my pantry. Like I can't even, so it's never about having it look perfect. It's about having your home work for you. Your home is a tool. Your home is a tool that supports you, that gives you rest, that replenishes your family.

And if the clutter is out of control, it's not doing that anymore. I don't care what it looks like. I want you to feel good in it and feel beautiful to you, but it's about making it functional. Okay.

[00:05:59] Hunter: And so there's, so you mentioned already there's this emotional base for clutter and our goal with this is not about perfection, it's not about utter simplicity or minimalism or anything like that.

Instead the goal is we wanna have like functionality, we wanna have ease. We wanna have peace, we wanna have enjoyment. I love this already because I'm not a minimalist, like personally, like I, I've had a whole career as like a painter and I have like paintings and I have, I like interesting artistic objects and I feel sad if something's and a space that's too minimal, it just feels like devoid of life to me.

Sometimes I've been really inspired by minimalism and things like that in the past. Like it's really appealing, but at the same time, like it's just not me. Like I have an affinity towards interesting objects and a space that has some interesting objects in them. I guess I love

[00:07:01] Tracy McCubbin: that because to me that's a creative expression for you.

Like for me. I love clothes. I think clothes are art. I'm getting married in a month, like shopping for my wedding dress and the outfits for the weekend. Like I love it. So this idea of, oh, you only need five, a capsule wardrobe. I, for me, it doesn't work. I know it works for a lot of people, but where I think of minimalism, I think of minimalism as getting rid of the stuff that doesn't work for you.

It's not about, oh, you should only have 10 books and two pairs of shoes. It's about getting rid of the extraneous stuff. And look, your house should feel beautiful to you. You should just have things in your house that you just love for no reason that they make you smile. That's what I want your household.

I don't want your house full of stuff. You never use things that are broken boxes of paperwork that you just keep moving around. That's what I don't want in your house.

[00:07:59] Hunter: This sounds amazing. I want you to come to my house. Although my husband is really like pretty, he's like a very naturally he comes and declutters the house.

Like he, when he wakes up earliest on Saturday morning, he'll walk around and putter around and just declutter and tidy up. It's like the best thing ever. It's just, I'm like, for sending me my husband Bill who declutters.

[00:08:21] Tracy McCubbin: And it is, it's a real thing. Like I think that, I think the number Is when you add a child into your life, you increase your possessions by 30%.

And if you add the second child, it's not like it goes down to 15 cuz you use hand dance. Cuz what if you have a different gender? What if you, so by the time you have two kids, you've increased your possessions to 60%. And living a minimal lifestyle with kids, I don't know, I feel like they go outside and they're covered in sticky tape and then they come home with stuff.

You're like, where did you get this stuff? Where did it happen? I just sent you to school. So I think that understanding that it's a continuum and not a, this is the place we're supposed to be.

[00:09:07] Hunter: All right. I love that. I love that establishment. That's great. Okay, so what I really like about your book Make Space for Happiness, which I think is hilarious that you wrote it after you wrote it, was the title of your first book is, say It Again?

[00:09:20] Tracy McCubbin: Book, first book is called Making Space Clutter Free. The last book on Decluttering you'll Ever Need, ah oh, but I'm ready for this. But the make Space for Happiness is how to stop attracting clutter. So make space for happiness. We're not talking about decluttering, we're talking about what you're acquiring that's adding to your stuff.

So it's technically not a decluttering book. But you can't, I, I just realized after doing this for 16 years and writing the first book, I was like, we can't talk about decluttering. If we're not talking about acquiring. I

[00:09:53] Hunter: love this. Yeah.

[00:09:55] Tracy McCubbin: And then, and I have to laugh at so many big. People, women mostly in the organizing space, like all now have a line of products and I'm like, everybody's already reinvented that.

I don't see anything new. So I think that we're, we smooshed together in getting decluttered and organized that we have to buy all this stuff. And I'm like no. Let's go backwards. So why are we shopping? What's going on? Why are we shopping so

[00:10:23] Hunter: much? I think this is so helpful because I noticed this for myself.

Like my 16 year old, almost 16 year old daughter just convinced me like after Christmas to get a bread machine. We can make all this fresh bread and then. She realized like for her diet, that she has to cut out gluten and so this like red machine that she was gonna use is now hanging out with us.

It's a cute little red robot, but I'm personally like sourdough and I get it from the. Place that makes it really well and anyway so yes, it's I notice this in my own life. Like I go through phases of like decluttering and things like that, but then I'm acquiring because there are different things that are, I'm emphasized in my life I know it was a random example, but like for instance, like underwear, right?

Like about, five to seven years ago, my goal in underwear was like all like complete comfort and no seams. I was like comfort and no seams. That's all I want in underwear. These will be the last underwear I ever get. I'll always get these underwear. Forever and ever. And now. Some like underwear.

The hat is like a little sexy, a little

[00:11:37] Tracy McCubbin: underwear, a little, but that's the thing that, that's such you brought up. That's actually a great example because also life ebbs and flows and changes and not I'm calling her out with love, but, the biggest person in this space, Marie Kondo two weeks ago, was like, I had three kids.

I can't keep up. It's we all knew you were gonna say that. We've all been waiting for you to say that and so life changes and evolves and what you need and what you wanna buy. But for me, I think the important conversation is that when we get unconscious about what we're buying is when we get into trouble.

So if you're mindlessly online shopping at night, if you're, I told this story the other day to somebody. I went to the outlet malls with some family members, and it was emotionally charged for many reasons. I brushed it off and was like, oh, this is gonna be easy. I bought all this stuff that I got in the car.

I had a, I had a buying hangover. I was like, why did I buy this? And I realized, The day was uncomfortable. And so I was like, let me spend money and see if this makes me feel better. And so I had to not beat myself up and realize that the next time I'm in that situation, give myself a budget.

What are you really looking for? Do you need, I, I don't need anything, but do you want a new black cashier sweater? Being Mindful about going into the buying process so all of a sudden you don't come home with all this stuff.

[00:13:17] Hunter: Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcasts right after this break.

I think that's, I think that's really helpful. So let's go back to the, like these reasons. Why we're acquiring, like you talk about different mindsets and emotional states that lead us to the, this acquiring. And I think this is and don't worry to the listener. I will ask Tracy about some decluttering tips.

But first, let, we gotta talk about this problem of the acquiring first. So can you lead us through some of the mindsets o of acquiring.

[00:13:51] Tracy McCubbin: Absolutely. So one of the things that I had been seeing this for a while, and then one of the things I really saw during the lockdown and pandemic and all that, when we were so out of control that, because I would get phone calls from clients and be like, remember all that stuff?

We decluttered I bought it and then some, and I'm seeing what's happening on my own front porch. But I think the way I describe it, It's as if a little piece of our soul has flown away. So we have this sort of puzzle piece shaped hole in us and we keep trying to put stuff in it to fix it.

So it's it's everything from where we don't have connection in our life. We've lost our confidence, we're trying to get free time. We're looking for that big love. We're look self-respect. We're looking for these things. So we're trying to fill this hole with stuff. We're magnetizing the stuff and it's not working.

So what I did in the book Make Space for Happiness was I identified the seven sort of big general areas where we're all think that stuff is gonna fix. It. Went through why it's not working, and then offered other suggest, suggestions about how to get that same feeling. When we shop, this is important for people and the people who are decluttering want the decluttering advice.

This, listen to this because it's super important. So we're hardwired to be hunters and gatherers. Neanderthal times or times when we didn't, before times when we came across an poetry in the wild or we saw a rabbit, we would get a big hit of dopamine to tell us to go after that stuff. We haven't evolved out of that.

So now we get that same hit of dopamine when we go to Target as if we had killed a wooly mammoth. So we haven't, we don't, we're getting these dopamine hit, but it doesn't last for very long. So then all of a sudden we're like, oh, that one package felt good. So maybe this next one will, oh, that trip to Target felt good.

So maybe the trip to Bed Bath and Beyond, I'll feel better. So I want people to understand scientifically what's happening and where there are better places to get that. I'm not telling you not to shop. You need to buy things. There is enjoyment in it, but if you understand that you are on a treadmill trying to do something else, so my favorite clutter magnet is number two, strong self-confidence.

And I see this mostly for women. If someone tells me anti-aging on a product, again, I'm going to. Pitch myself from the roof. I live in la I work with, I see beautiful women who are in their sixties, seventies. They haven't figured out the secret. It's we're gonna age and it's amazing. So this idea that oh, we're gonna buy this thing, this cream, this lotion.

It's gonna give us confidence. It's not, it's like the confidence comes from within and then yay. The lipstick

[00:16:46] Hunter: is fun. Okay, so for the listener who's listening to this and there are emotional drivers for this purchasing for the clutter that's coming in and I see it too, like the piles of Amazon boxes around the neighborhood and things like that, and.

We have these things that are magnets, we have these holes. What are some of the things the holes, definitely maybe self-respect, maybe one of them, but and self-confidence. But what are some of the holes like for parents who are struggling with the overwhelm of kids and balancing that with their own lives and

[00:17:24] Tracy McCubbin: self, et cetera?

Oh, this is great. So there's three of them. Number four, which is big love. And this one, you wouldn't think, but it's, I see so many parents, especially who feel guilty if they're working, that they just buy and buy for their kids. They'll love me, I'm gonna take 'em to the store. They get that new Ninjago Lego set, it's just this, I also see this for gra from grandparent like grandparents showing up with all these toys.

It's like just they bake cookies with them, and then what happens is these kids get trained to expect the present. So it's like this really unhealthy, not good feeling cycle. So looking for love by shopping, let's go shopping together, retail therapy. Another one is number three, free time, magnetizing, free time buying these gadgets that supposedly save you all this time.

I always joke that, the shampoo mixed with the conditioner. What'd you do with that extra 10 seconds?

And the funny thing is, a great way to save time is to be decluttered. Less stuff means you have to tend to it less. And the other one I see for moms a lot is clutter magnet number six, which is real purpose. A lot of times it's such an interesting journey and I watch it with my clients and my friends and my sister-in-law.

You know that when you become a mother also, what's your real purpose? Some mothers are stay at home and that fulfills them. Others are like, I need to work outside the house. I should do something. I see sometimes I see my mom's spending so much money on I'm gonna open a Etsy jewelry making business.

I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna, and they buy all this stuff for it without really exploring it. And in the book I talk about how to find your real purpose and. A real purpose may just be, the job you have or focusing on your family. We don't all have to have a side hustle. We don't have to.

[00:19:35] Hunter: Okay, so guilt free time and real purpose, these pretty deep things that are being maybe revealed by our habits with our stuff. As you have gone in and worked with people, helping them declutter. How do you help them deal with things like guilt, things like finding real purpose, like what kind of conversations are you having with your clients to uncover this kind of stuff?

[00:20:05] Tracy McCubbin: Very real ones. I, I always joke that there's a Beverly, there's a psychiatrist in Beverly Hills that's getting paid more an hour than I do. But having that con, I'm able to draw the correlation because I see this all the time, so it's easy for me to say, a lot of my moms.

We get to the point like as we're talking about it and especially when kids hit middle school and they're not around and don't seemingly need you as much, like what can you do? Is it time to start volunteering? It's, there's somewhere that you can be of service, like exploring that and understanding that is going to evolve and change.

A big part of my clientele also is women 45 to 70 and one of the things that a phone call I get. My kids are off at college. I don't have to go back to work, but I wanna do something. But I also realized I'm the only one who knows where everything is. I'm the only one who knows where the insurance policy is.

I'm the only one who knows the bank accounts. Really, like all of a sudden they realize as they don't have, I don't wanna say distraction, but they don't have the time that the kids take and, away at college, all of a sudden they're like, oh, if something happened to me, I would be the only one who knows.

It's interesting when that starts to come and what do they wanna do in this next chapter? Being an empty nester,

[00:21:31] Hunter: my mom is realizing that about the stuff, like if she dies, if my dad is we don't, he wouldn't know how to run his house, which is a little scary because of the clutter.

[00:21:44] Tracy McCubbin: Yeah, and it's so interesting. It used to be like my clients in their eighties and nineties, they're women that like, Was very different. Their husbands more took care of them and they, when their husbands passed, they don't really know what to do. But I have this whole generation of women are like, oh no, if I went, my husband would be lost.

Lost. So there's something to getting, organizing and getting right with your stuff to, make sure things keep going smoothly.

[00:22:14] Hunter: All right. This is great. Okay. So there's deeper, underlying things that we have to, and I can really see how. It would be hard to uncover, right? Because, you go through your day and you may have an unpleasant feeling, a little itch or whatever.

So what do you do? You. I dunno. Watch Netflix or you scroll through social media or something like that. Or you

[00:22:41] Tracy McCubbin: eat that second or a third cookie, or you have another glass of wine that we have all these, all these behaviors.

[00:22:48] Hunter: We have all these things. But then the ads pop up and the shopping becomes this oh, look how happy that person is with their seamless bra.

I really need one. Like I'm starting to. Whatever it is. And you could, I could see how that would happen where it's just our culture has this regular cycle and encouragement of for distraction, right? Like even if you have more time. So a lot of, a lot, I know a lot of you dear listener are just, you're, you have no time, right?

You're like, oh my God, I had read five minutes of a book today. I'm so thrilled. I know that's a lot of people, but. For some people who now you have more time, but there's such an encouragement in our culture to just distract your time away. If you have an unpleasant feeling, you're supposed to distract your and so it could probably take the building of the, the clutter, right?

It could be, it could take some time, of that distraction. So I guess what I'm asking is what are the signs that there is a decluttering that needs to happen and maybe an accounting of. What am I really needing in my

[00:24:00] Tracy McCubbin: life? Ugh, these are great questions, hunter. So one of the easiest things that I tell people, like a really good litmus test is can you tidy up a room?

Can you take a room in your house and get it back to looking the way you want it and functioning the way you want it in 20 minutes or less? And playrooms, that's can take a little bit longer. Those are, those are that at the end of the day, I'm always with my sister-in-law like, How do you do this every day?

20, 30 minutes if it's taking you that much longer to get things back. Then the clutter's got in the upper hand. And the other thing, and it's a very, it's very subtle, but when I say it to people, they're like, oh, do you feel like you own your stuff or do you feel like your stuff owns you?

Are you constantly managing your stuff and clearing off the table to have dinner together? Or not even clearing it off so everybody eats on the couch and at their desk, is your kitchen counter cluttered? So you're, you don't even wanna cook and you're ordering in all of a sudden just start to, it's, I always start with just an awareness.

Is your house working for you? What are mornings like, what are dinner times? What are go to bed? What? What is happening? And so many times I'll get called in and people are like, we need systems. I need systems to make this work. And I always start with, but how's the stuff working? Yes, we need systems keys.

Go here, shoes go here, backpacks go here. Of course. But when you have too much stuff, it's so difficult to put those systems into place.

[00:25:37] Hunter: Yeah. So we have to just. Think about that, reducing that, reducing the amount of stuff. Then we can have a system and then, thinking about that buying cycle, like why are we buying, right?

What is the feeling? Before you're buying, what is the feeling we should have before we buy? Like sometimes we get all caught up in okay, I don't wanna be buying cuz I'm feeling trying to fill a hole. But what should it feel like? I think one of the things I suggest to people, and this is a change, this is literally a change that people can implement right now.

[00:26:11] Tracy McCubbin: Stop saying I need a new pair of jeans, I need a new, jacket. I need a. I'm gonna guess 99% of you do not need a new pair of jeans. You want just start saying, I want, right? Because when you acknowledge that it's a want, not a need, you have so much more power over it, then you can shop smarter than you can find it on sale or find a different version.

One thing I suggest for people to do, Is, people get so mad at me when I say this. They're like, what? But run your Amazon spending report. You can run monthly reports of all your spending and go through and highlight your purchases. Did you really need that? Or did you just want it? How was it? Was it worth it?

And all of a sudden when you do that you just start to think last night was a perfect example. I needed a little jack for my headphones and my husband was like, I'm gonna go and there's five for, three for five on wherever he buys his tech from. And I was like, let's take a minute.

We went through my tech box. We already had two of them, right? Like he was just in his, I gotta fix this mode. And so I think that getting honest with your purchases is gonna help you in the future. That's

[00:27:29] Hunter: so interesting. I, that's that's similar to sometimes in Mindful Parenting when I help people, like with their communications with their kids, I ask them to basically record themselves for 20 minutes in their interactions with their kids and kinda listen back to what are they saying?

Like, how do you know? And it's like this. It's a communication report, right? And this run your Amazon spending report. To me it sounds like, ooh, a little scary and you know what I mean? But imagine it's the same thing, but that whole idea about let's just be really honest with ourselves.

Let's change our language so that we can be really honest with ourselves and take it as it is. And also Hunter, we're humans, right? We do things, we make mistakes. We over buy This isn't about, it's not I don't know, there's a couple like finance bros out, personal finance bros out there that's all about, you're bad for buying a latte and it's, it then never works for humans.

[00:28:30] Tracy McCubbin: And it's about being aware and all of a sudden, if you find yourself, if your Amazon guy knows you, or gal knows you by your first name, there's like all of a sudden, if you find yourself at night, Shopping. Shopping. Take a beat. That's what I guide you through in the book.

What's really going on? The great, we're starting this client next week. Lovely. Older couple. So sweet, funny. She retired from her job of 35 years. The week before the pandemic hit, it was a super social job. She saw people all the time. She stopped being able to go to church in person, and she stopped playing bridge.

And self-admittedly, she is my shopping is out of control. I can't, I'm buying things for business clothes when I'm never gonna go to work again. And we just started to unpack it and I was like, we you know what it, we went through this and she was like I retired. And I'm like that's a whole social thing.

It's I don't go to church. I watch it on. Video and I'm not playing bridge. And I'm like, you just took all of your connections out of your life. You took 'em out. I was like, first thing, can you go back to church in person? Can you wear a mask? Go back to church in person. Can you start playing bridge again?

Her husband was like, oh, there's a bridge. There's a bridge game this afternoon. I can drive her. And so I think for parents really, when, especially when they're little, and you're just like trying to keep it all together, it just. It makes you have this sense of control oh, I bought these things on Amazon and they arrived, and so I'm gonna be okay.

So it's just like you said, it's just a mindfulness, it's a, the awareness comes first and then the change.

[00:30:19] Hunter: Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcast right after this break.

This is so great. I love talking to you, Tracy. It's so in alignment with with what we talk about in Mindful. Parenting. It's so great. Okay, so let's imagine that we are on board for having less clutter in our lives, like having more free time. Making, time for connection in our community and not necessarily like spending that time like shopping.

What about our family members, right? Like, how do we deal with the clutter of our family members and then all the like little stuff like kids bring home. So I was so frustrated with that. I remember when my daughter was little like, There would be just like so many toys and things that would come into the house, and I, it was overwhelming for her.

I remember she was actually, she, kids are actually like much easier to be around when they're not overwhelmed by their stuff. So we don't actually, it's not more is better for kids. Like I know that, so the for the listener was like, okay, I know this Moore is not better for kids, but help me with my family.

What do I do with them? Yeah, the, I always joke that the great irony in life is I met my partner later in life and he's so messy. I love him so much, and he's such a good man, and he is clean. Dishes are done, houses clean, but he's just, there's just piles everywhere. So one of the things that I say with families, and I ju I do not think it there, it's too early to have this conversation with kids.

[00:31:52] Tracy McCubbin: This idea of. Here's why we're organized, not because I'm telling you, but not because I'm mommy and I'm right. But because if your toys are organized and you wanna play with your army guys or your hot wheels, you know where to go find them. I will never forget we did this playroom, young mom of young kids, and I think they were like four and six and maybe they were four, five and six three.

There were three of 'em all under seven and all boys. And her playroom was just out of control. So we decluttered it, we got rid of the broken toys. We, put some storage units in and got one of those lake shore BI where the bins lay flat open bin so the kids can see. They're three layers.

They're all preschools. Have 'em and they have plastic bins and they're open. So the kids, it's great cause the kids don't have to lift a lid. It's easy to do it. Sweet. Stuffy's with Stuffy's and Army guys. With army guys. And cars. With cars. And it was all organized. And I'll never forget the little boy ran in and he was like, my guys, I haven't seen my guys.

It's so long. And it was like, and she realized being organized means that he can find what he's looking for. And then also that takes away the mom, where's my, so it's about having a conversation with the family. What are our goals? How do we want our house to be? And understanding that it's not. I'm right, you are wrong, but this will make our life go smoother.

If we take our shoes off and put them in the same place every day, when we get ready to go to school tomorrow, the shoes that you wear to school are in the spot. He's going the same spot that it's really doing it to make everybody's life better, not because people are right and wrong. Okay.

[00:33:45] Hunter: I love that. I think that's so important that why conversation, especially with our kids. But what about our in-laws and our own parents?

[00:33:57] Tracy McCubbin: I am a big proponent, and I got dragged on social media. The majority of people agreed with me, but a few people came for me when I posted this.

I want to normalize asking people what they want for gifts, telling people what they want for gifts. We are not mind readers. We do not know. I think it's this idea that someone should just know what I want and surprise me, especially for kids. Kids change what they want so fast. So I think it's a clear and kind conversation.

Hey, we're trying to manage the stuff in our house. The kids love you. You do not have to bring them a gift every time you come. In fact, you know it would be better. Write down your favorite cookie recipe and make cookies with the kids. They wanna spend time with you. They don't want the stuff, and you are training them to expect the stuff.

I want them to have experiences with their grandparents and just be on like, they wanna know you, do a little sewing project. Do. That's what they want. That's what kids want. And so I think it's having a really honest, and also to be able to say look, we're, we've been struggling a little bit this year financially you know what would mean the world, the kids sports uniforms, I know it's not a giant Barbie house under the tree, but we need this help.

Just think, we have to stop pretending that we don't, that we can afford things that we maybe can't. And by the way, Susan Orman said this 30 years ago, and I stand by this, if you buy a gift for someone that you have to put on a credit card that you can't pay off, and it's not a gift. And it's not a gift to, if buying a gift for someone puts you in a bad financial spot, that's not a gift.

So I think it's just having a really clear. Clear conversation. I agree with you grandparents. If they're, listen, they're the worst offenders. I'm like, what are you doing?

[00:36:01] Hunter: And just see, I could see how it happened. My neighbor, my daughters are like gonna be about 13 and 16 now, and my across the street from me, my neighbor is having a baby, in a couple months. And all of a sudden I'm like, we were in a little town and walking their little store and there were these amazing little baby things and I was like, oh, I have someone I could buy this for now.

[00:36:25] Tracy McCubbin: But Hunter, what's really going on in that moment? And this is where the awareness comes in. Is that you wanted to relive when you, when your girls were babies, it was such a lovely time, right? And you're like, babies are so cute and they're so cute. And these little, look, I have two nieces and a nephew.

I am the worst. I'm very Mindful of it. But it's so fun, right? And you're like, oh, dressing a baby. And, but also it's going over to them and saying, here's a cute onesie, but can I bring you dinner one night? Can I take your garbage cans out? And I think back to my grandparents.

I was very close to all them, especially my, what? My father's mom very close, spent a lot of time with them. I can't tell you. Except for a car. My grandpa split the cost. My first car, my grandpa split the cost with me. I can't tell you one thing they ever bought for me. I sorta remember clothes, but I can tell you learning to sew with my grandmothers, learning to cook with my grandmother's baking family recipes that I can remember.

I, I honestly, I can't. I don't think I can remember a single thing they bought. Okay. I'm so with you there. Actually I've had one set of gr one grandmother, I remember sitting at the piano with her and another grandmother said, and mother, grandmother was like giving me like way too much stuff that I got rid of from Marshall's.

[00:37:45] Hunter: But what about those things that actually are valuable or the things like my aunt gave me this quilt that was like knit by like my great-grandmother, my great-great-grandmother or something. And I just never, I didn't ask for the quilt. I don't, but now it's sitting in a box in my room.

What am I doing that I feel so


[00:38:11] Tracy McCubbin: about it? Yeah, this is great. I know I deal with this all the timely. So first of all, we gotta talk about the word valuable. There's financially valuable, which honestly there's not a lot of things in this world that arefin financially valuable me is what someone's gonna give you cash for today.

No one's probably gonna give you money for that old quilt. So it's not valuable. Now, it may have sentimental and family history tied to it, which is, that's really about, we wanna know where we came from and that the people that came before us mattered also. Like she decluttered it to you, cuz she didn't want it in her house anymore.

So she just p she just kicked that can down the road, I'm telling you. So here's the thing, if you don't use it and it sits in a box, it's no different than if it wasn't even in your house. You're not gonna all of a sudden pull it out and use it. So take it out. Do the girls want it? Would they ever use it?

Is there someone else in the family? Or maybe it just goes away. Maybe it just goes away. And I think people have to understand that when we hang on to things and put them up in cold storage, it's exactly the same as just not having them. Yeah,

[00:39:21] Hunter: that's true. That's a good point. And when we're in that process, if I go and get the quilt, And I bring it to Goodwill.

It's just a mental processing I have to do and maybe I bless it and I say thank you or whatever and something for me to let it go. Cuz you're right, it is a absolutely the same if it's sitting in a box and what's gonna happen, my daughter's gonna find it someday and be like, there's a quilt.

[00:39:48] Tracy McCubbin: I don't know. Yeah. And also like over time it's gonna start to disintegrate and it's just that thing. And I think this idea. I had this woman one time that still dis haunts me so much. She had three sons and they were all married and none of her daughters-in-law wanted her.

China the mother of the all the husband, the none of, they're like, it's not our style. You can't put in the dishwasher. We'll never use it. She was so mad that she wasn't speaking to her children's wives. Just cut off communication. How dare they not want this? And that's an extreme, but I've seen people do that.

And I have to say is that if you're buying grandparents, I'm looking at you, to get something back from the kid. What's going on with you? What's going on with you that you need to do that? Can you it was funny. I, like I said, I'm an auntie and I show up and I tuck things in my suitcase.

And the last two times I went to visit my nieces and nephew, the first thing they like jumped on the suitcase to see what was in there. And I was like oh no, this stops. So I, the last couple trips, I haven't brought anything. Just nothing does not change the quality of our trip. We have the greatest time.

I love seeing them. They wanna show me what's in their playroom. We wanna take a big walk. The guy had to check myself and the outcome was great. And again, let's go back to this. Kids do better with less stuff. More toys isn't better. It doesn't foster their imagination. This I want.

It's also teaching them to soothe themselves with things they don't do. My nieces and nephews nephew, my little niece and nephew, they're eight and six now since they were three and four. Every time I've come, we play rocket ship. Their dad works for NASA and they love it. It has gotten so sophisticated now that when I show up, they've already taken boxes and cut it out and made their own rocket ships and they have their CO and it's like it's evolved into this thing and it's literally made from boxes that the milk comes in and it's so amazing they don't need toys.

They don't need them. Like that memory first thing, when are we gonna play rocket ship? When are we gonna play rocket ship? I play command control. They get everything. And this is five, six years we've been doing this and it's just, it's so beautiful cuz we talk and we spend time and we laugh and it.

It's about what they create, not what we bought.

[00:42:27] Hunter: I love that. I love that. That's exactly like the what we're going for. Okay. So there were all kinds of questions my team had free, like about transitional items and things like that. But let's just boil it down to how do we decide if something is worth is clutter or if it's worth keeping?


[00:42:45] Tracy McCubbin: this is so exciting. I'm gonna tell you, but also if you go, if people go to my website and sign up for my newsletter, tracy, you will get this in PDF form. It's a freebie for you. So it's the five questions to ask is should it stay or should it go? So first of all is do you use it on a regular, semi-regular basis?

So for instance, the example I always give, I have a giant Turkey platter. It's a little hard to store. I found a place for it. I use it every Thanksgiving. I've used it for 20 Thanksgivings. Two, three times a year it gets used. But if you haven't used it 4, 5, 6, 7 years or never, maybe you don't need it. Is it something that's helping you make money?

But what I mean by that is, is it part of your generating income, not talking about you. Maybe someday are gonna sell it on eBay or maybe you're gonna have a garage sale. I'm not talking about that. Is it something that makes you money? Can you reasonably buy it again or borrow it from someone else? Is it costing you more to store it than to buy it?

Again, if you have an outside storage unit, people listen up. If this is you, I can tell you I have been in hundreds and hundreds of storage units and I have never found anything inside a storage unit that people, that is worth more people have paid to store it. So can you reasonably buy it again or can you borrow it from somebody else?


[00:44:12] Hunter: Yeah. That reminds me of like where do you keep your extra toilet paper? I keep it at the store. Yeah. Great. Exactly. Totally. 1000%. Like also, if you have an outside storage unit, you're not using that stuff. You're not running over there to get it. You're just not.

[00:44:33] Tracy McCubbin: You can't argue this with me. I have been doing this for so long. Then number four is, do you have a place to store it? Exactly what you said. Can you, do you have space in your house to shop at Costco and get 24 rolls of toilet paper? Or maybe you're just in a little one bedroom and you don't have space.

Then keep it at the store. Exactly. And then the last one, which is such a good full circle, hunter, do you love love, love it. There are just some things in our house that we just love. Just make us happy. Happy to look at like that. There's just things like we're not. Wiping our houses of those things.

There are things that are beautiful and remind us of all sorts of things. So there's that. But this is a great, should it stay or should it go? You sign up on my website. You can get it as a free downloadable pdf.

[00:45:24] Hunter: That's a perfect place to end. I think that sounds like a perfect list to help us check off.

And dear listener, I've really been enjoying make space for happiness. Really helpful. So if you are in need of some of this work I totally recommend it. Is there anything we missed, Tracy, that we need to touch on and where can, of course, people can find you at your website you just mentioned, but, I think we all need to be kind to ourselves and I think in the theme of Mindful Parenting.

[00:45:56] Tracy McCubbin: Be Mindful of our own behaviors. Just pay attention. Just spend the next couple days when you're on Amazon, what are you feeling? What do you thinking? What do you think you're gonna solve? Don't beat yourself up. Just start to pay attention and be aware. And then tracy Also Instagram. I'm at Tracy underscore McCubbin.

That's my big platform. I love it. We do, I do these five minute decluttering challenges, which are perfect for busy parents. Perfect. Perfect. I get three dms a day that are like, I did all your videos and now my whole house is decluttered and I didn't barely notice it, so that's great. TikTok.

TikTok and, but Instagram's my big platform, so I'd love to see people over there.

[00:46:40] Hunter: Awesome. So dear listener, if you got something outta this episode, tag me at Mindful Mama Mentor and at Tracy underscore McCubbin, two Cs and two Bs. Tracy, it's been such a pleasure to talk to you and I really enjoyed it and I've really appreciate that you're, you take, you've taken your hours of.

Dealing with stuff and steward terms and all that stuff and you're helping turn it into something really beautiful for the rest of us. I really appreciate that. So thank you so much for coming on the podcast.

[00:47:12] Tracy McCubbin: You're so welcome. And I just, my whole goal is to make everybody's lives a little bit easier.

And I know your mama's out there. You can anything to make it a little easier, I'm here for you.

[00:47:32] Hunter: I hope you enjoyed this conversation with Tracy and McCubbin. Are you inspired to declutter? I am. I've been doing some spring cleaning here at the Mushroom, which is what we call our house here in the forest. So yeah, I've been doing some spring cleaning, doing some decluttering, and. Yeah, there is the thing about things coming in, and you know what, I think I talked to Tracy about the bread machine that Maggie convinced me to get right before she had to go gluten free.

And I've been using the bread machine, so I don't know. I don't know if the bread machine is faded to last long here at the Clark Field's household. But anyway, I hope that you are getting a lot out of it if you get a lot out of it. Please leave a rating and review a Spotify rating in review, an Apple Podcast rating review.

It just helps the podcast grow more. We have grown to where we are through you and you sharing the podcast, sharing it with your friends, and leaving those ratings in review is and they matter. So much. So please do that. And if you get something cool outta this episode, tell me about it. I'd love to know, we post about all the podcast episodes on my Instagram feed app, Mindful Mama mentor and comment.

Tell me what you thought about it. That's so cool. I love to hear your thoughts on it and so let me know and keep an eye out. The pre-orders are open for my new book, raising Good Humans every day, listen. Dear listener, I'm so excited about this book. I think it's maybe better than Raising Good Humans, which has done so well all around the world.

It's been finally translated into Spanish too, which is so cool. But if you like the podcast, if you like raising good humans, please do me a favor and pre-order because it really makes a difference for the whole fate of the book, and it's a super way to support. The mission here by helping this book get to more people and more ears.

So please do that. Go to anywhere you wanna buy books. In fact, what's really good if you go to your local bookstore and pre-order there, and that is a really great way to do it because it counts differently. I dunno, it's a little confusing all the ins and outs of it, but that's actually like the best way to do it.

So yeah, go on a mission with your kids to the local bookstore. Find. The remaining logo bookstore and pre-order raising good humans every day, and it's a great way to support this podcast, support the books and the work that we do here at Mindful Mama, and support yourself and your family. It's a really great book I'm so excited about.

It's 50 short chapters. It goes above and beyond raising good humans to talk about environment like we talked about today with Decluttering Band. We talk about communication and lots of very specific tips and skills, and I think of it like something you're gonna leave on your bedside, you're gonna practice maybe one of these skills or mindsets a week.

And so it's bit by bit like gentle change. You don't have to change everything overnight. And it's a great book for your, maybe your family or your partner to read too. So I like to communicate things in a really simple, practical, accessible way. And that's I really think this book gets to that.

So it's raising good humans every day. Pre-order it wherever you can. And listen, have a lovely week. I'm so glad you're here. I wish you happy, decluttering. I wish us all, peaceful, connected moments with our kids and joy in the little things this week. So thank you so much for listening. I will be talking to you again next week.

Oh my God. Next week is our 400th episode. Wow. That is so cool. So 400th episode is really special and exciting. We have something cool planned, so make sure you tune in on that Tuesday for that. And I'll Hi to you then. Okay. Thank you so much for listening my friend.

[00:51:34] Tracy McCubbin: I'd say definitely do it. It's really helpful. It will change your relationship with your kids for the better. It will help you communicate better and just, I'd say communicate better as a person, as a wife, as a spouse, it's been really a positive influence in our lives, so definitely do it. I'd say definitely do it.

It's so worth it. The money really is inconsequential when you get so much benefit from being a better parent to your children and feeling like you connect. Acting more with them and not feeling like you yelling all the time, or you're like, why isn't things working? I would say definitely into it. It's so worth it.

It'll change you no matter what age someone's child is. It's a great opportunity for personal growth and it's great investment in someone's family. I'm very thankful I have is you can continue in your old habits that aren't working or you can learn some new tools and gain some perspective to shift.

Everything in your Parenting,

[00:52:38] Hunter: are you frustrated by Parenting? Do you listen to the experts and try all the tips and strategies, but you're just not seeing the results that you want? Or are you lost as to where to start? Does it all seem so overwhelming with too much to learn? Are you yearning for community people who get it, who also don't want to threaten and punish to create cooperation?

Hi, I'm Hunter Clark Fields, and if you answered yes to any of these questions, I want you to seriously consider the Mindful Parenting membership. You'll be joining hundreds of members who have discovered the path of Mindful Parenting and now have confidence and clarity in their Parenting. This isn't just another Parenting class.

This is an opportunity to really discover your unique lasting relationship, not only with your children, but with yourself. It will translate into lasting connected relationships, not only with your children, but your partner too. Let me change your life. Go to. Mindful Parenting to add your name to the wait list, so you will be the first to be notified when I open the membership for enrollment.

I look forward to seeing you on the inside, Mindful Parenting

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