Your Household Is a Container: How to Organize Your Home

Your Household Is a Container: How to Organize Your Home

My beautiful friend, podcast guest, and student Tia (of episode 1) asked me how I kept my household organized without it becoming a cluttered mess or a giant pain in my ass. How can it be organized, stress-free, easeful, etc. This was my response.

Your household is a container full of smaller and smaller containers.

And though I love the Container Store as much as the next organized person, I don’t mean physical containers – although they can be – I mean spaces to contain your life.

Your dresser is a container for your clothes, your under the bed bin for your blankets, or your pantry for your food. You might have a box you keep favorite cards or letters you’ve received, or a place for your jewelry.


I think that keeping healthy containers in your life – both physical space and boundaries – help increase your capacity or energy and allow you the space you need in your life to create.

You might have a container around your bedroom – no work happens in there, only sleeping! (Studies support this as a wise move, btw.) You might use a virtual Zoom background as a container to keep your work life and home life separate during the unprecedented pandemic. (If someone gives you shit about doing this, please email me and I will be your workplace advocate.)

All of these are containers! And household containers can support us or hurt us as much as boundaries can.

First and most importantly, please know that it is much harder to return things to a container if it’s not easy for you to do so. For example, short folks who have divorced their tall partners report taking years before they realize they don’t need to use the top shelf. Or in my case, I had a very complicated under the kitchen sink organizing system that was fine when I was single and sent me into a rage at 4 am with a very awake baby. Life changes, containers need to change, and assessing how they affect us can make our lives easier.

However, you can sometimes choose to make the container not easy for you, and if you do, the reason must be more important than the ease. For example, my father gave me an antique pitcher and basin when my husband and I moved in together. The basin is large. The pitcher is heavy. The whole set needs to be – dusted! Dusted, folks, I am not known for my dusting. I have always loved that gift though, and since my father passed away in January, I will *cut* anyone who gives that pitcher set even a side-eye. The pitcher and basin – they’re love. They don’t need to be ease filled because they are love-filled.

But on the flip side, I had a box given to me by a friend who ditched me and then burned me in the rona times. And that box got donated, thank you very much. It made me angry or sad every time I looked at it, and now, it’s bringing someone else joy. This was an effective container change for me.

If you too need to create more effective containers, most likely because the clutter of your household is getting to you when you cannot leave it in a worldwide pandemic – this is how I would tackle it.

Household Container Clearing Steps

1. Get real about your possessions.

No, I am not Marie Kondo. (Her drawer method is life-changing though, it really is.) American capitalism is always pushing you to need and want more and more and more, to the point that most people’s homes can’t even fit everything. If this is you, you will have to do some pairing down to fit into the container of your home. Or move into a new home, I’m not telling you what to do, just suggesting that this part is physics. Mary Poppins’ bag is sadly not available on Amazon.

This doesn’t mean you need to get rid of everything you own! It means you need to be intentional about what you own. Do you have clothes you hate? A hat too small for your head? Books that you read and hated but are still holding on to? Donate or sell, but clear the space.

And be honest with yourself. People tell themselves all sorts of crazy stories about everything under the sun, but no more than they do about their stuff. This blazer makes me a real executive (even though the button can’t close over my giant post baby breasts). This leather skirt makes me a real artist (even though I am scared to wear it because what if I spill?). Etc etc. Don’t bullshit yourself. If you need help, Zoom a straight shooter friend of yours for help.

2. What do you have that can pull double duty?

Ottomans! Shelves! Hooks! Drawers! All the natural containers you already have might be able to fill a dual purpose. I wanted a place to sit down at my front door and put my shoes on, and I had an ottoman that I had been using for toys for my Bean. I organized the toys in his room in a different way – on shelves installed in the closet – and took the ottoman for the door. Now I could sit to put on my shoes and store items near the door. Didn’t need to buy anything, didn’t add something new to the space, plus it serves dual purpose in its new role.

Do you have a need and an item that can be matched? For me, I had these shelves I loved but didn’t know where to put them and couldn’t find bedstands I liked that were in stock in the pandemic. Need, meet your match!

3. What can you replace with something that can pull double duty? Or even triple duty?

Do you have a chair that you don’t really like but an ottoman you do? Could you donate the chair, replace it with the ottoman and store the vacuum in there?

Maybe you have 3 small shelves that make it hard for you to move around your kitchen, but if replace them with one long shelf with hooks, you could move around freely and hang your apron?

These can either be items you already have or items you can source, including buying. Sometimes I will put a new container on my wish list, and I will figure out another way, and sometimes, a friend just gifts me it in the mail.

4. How can these containers be easy?

If you only use something once a year, it does not need to be in the front of the closet.

If the cat litter box is in the closet, can you store the litter and scoop right next to it with the spare bags so it’s an easy chore?

Where can you store the laundry basket so it’s easy to handle? If you have a bad back, maybe storing it in the laundry room makes the most sense. If you have a bad back, maybe a laundry basket in addition to the hamper makes the most sense. Do what works for you and your life.

I have a basket on the kitchen breakfast bar as a COVID-19 catch all. Masks, hand sanitizer, wipes, etc. live there. My husband hates the basket, and he desires it to move. But it is the absolutely best location for it, and we can easily find these items related to our safety. Practicality combined with safety combined with ease of use make this container more important than the annoyance of having it on the counter.

Is this an overnight process? No. Sadly no. It took my years to find my container balance. But bit by bit, it got better and better, and easier and easier.

My only other tip is that after finding this delicate balance, you must work every day to keep it. I personally prefer to restore items to their home throughout the day. I would not say my husband and son agree. They usually pick up about half their items before bedtime, and I walk through once and finish the job. In theatre terms, I restore the home so when we wake up the next morning, we are ready to go, starting off on the right foot.

Is that emotional and physical labor? Yes. Am I carrying the mental load? Yes. But does it make everything easier for me in the long run, yes, it does. And I think we make incremental progress as a family pack all the time, especially in the pandemic because we get to practice every day.

If you try this process, let me know how it goes for you. May you feel lighter and grounded and ready to kick ass. Godspeed.

39. COVID-19 and Public Health Communication

39. COVID-19 and Public Health Communication

In this episode of The Notable Woman Podcast, I interview Dr. Karen Hilyard, a public health communication expert, on COVID-19.

This is our second episode focused on COVID-19. I wanted to start with Amy Simpkins and exponential growth because I felt like that was the first thing people were having a hard time wrapping their heads around, and now that you know how contagious this disease is and why that matters so much, Karen’s the next person we should all be listening to.

Karen’s an expert in public health communication and just so happens to be my friend. She was happy to get on and explain to me what we should be hearing from our local, state, and federal leaders, and what we should actually be doing.


  • What it’s like in Georgia, both personally for Karen and her larger area, which is rural and suburban (quite different than me in NYC, but also similar in how our healthcare systems will respond)
  • Briefly discuss exponential growth (check out Amy’s episode for more information on that)
  • What people are still doing that they shouldn’t be – like block parties and play dates
  • Plain language guidance about what we should be doing instead
  • History on the US pandemic response plan from George W. Bush’s administration
  • Amazing tips for organizations not sure how to communicate about COVID-19
  • What we can be advocating for in our own communities, like funds for people who are food insecure and halting evictions
  • Why we should be concerned about civil liberties and the best way to make sure we maintain our rights
  • Who is doing a good job communicating right now
  • The testing debacle

I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did creating it. You can listen now, right here from this webpage by clicking the play button below.

Prefer Apple Podcasts? Android user? Go to Overcast here or Google Podcasts here. Pocket Casts? Radio Public? Something else? And of course, if you loved the episode, a review is always appreciated! 

EPISODE RESOURCES INCLUDE (affiliate links included):

Today’s Guest

Karen Hilyard

“Without testing in place, we weren’t able to do that. And we were not able to sound the alarm, and it was a critical missed step in which we will never know how many people have actually had the virus. And we certainly missed some opportunity to take action when we could have perhaps slowed the spread.”

Hi, I’m Cristin, and you’ve found The Notable Woman.

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About Karen Hilyard

Karen Hilyard, Ph.D. is a behavioral scientist and communication strategist who trains and advises state, federal, and global clients on both routine and crisis communication.  Beginning in 2006, she was part of a CDC-funded team that spent three years training public health communicators how to implement the federal pandemic preparedness and response plan.  She has written extensively about social distancing and other government directives during a pandemic.   

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STOP Self-Sabotage Summit

STOP Self-Sabotage Summit

Do you have brilliant ideas, life changing, world changing ideas, but… you twiddle your thumbs.

You think about how things can be different, and maybe even pay for that coach or thousand dollar program and then… don’t follow through.


You might have never heard the word before or you might be a card carrying member for the “Self-Sabotagers Anonymous” Club.

Heck, you might even be the president!

There’s no time like the present to battle your self-sabotage so come to the:


There are 5 amazing speakers:
• Chou Hallegra
• Shannon MacFarlane
• Kathryn Mussell
• Naomi Gottlieb-Miller
• Rosemarie Wilson

Who are going to knock your socks off!


Please join us by clicking on the link below, which will take you to the summit videos in the Society for Notable Women Facebook group. (You must join the group to see the videos.)

How to Swap Sabotage for Success with Rosemarie Wilson

What’s your version of Self-Sabotage? Are you enjoying it?


What do you want in its place?

Are you wearing your self-sabotage like a badge of honour? Are you secretly proud of it?


Ok, well what do you want in its place?

Join me for this session on ‘How to Swap Sabotage for Success’

We’re all successful in our own right at different things

In this session I’ll focus on:

  • What might be detracting you and getting in the way of you being more of a success
  • What’s stopping you from enjoying and celebrating your successes
  • What you can also do when things aren’t necessarily going your way
  • How can you nurture your mindset to help you on this journey & swap self-sabotage for your version of success.

I’ll guide you through to help you find your answers.

Making Friends with Grief: How Stuffing it Bites You in the Ass with Shannon MacFarlane

Self sabotage often comes from a place of doubt and your own ability to see your worthiness. When you add grief on top of that, and it could be grief from any kind of loss, it’s tempting to stuff away the grief, tamp it down, and walk over it so it doesn’t come back. That grief is going to spring up when you least expect it (with power boosts from your self doubt and feelings of unworthiness) and take a huge bite out of your butt cheeks.

Making friends with your grief doesn’t mean that you love what has happened in your life. It doesn’t mean that the losses you have experienced haven’t impacted you. It means that you accept them, you learn from them, and you soften. You become sea glass instead of a shard.

Blasting through Barriers to Happiness: Conquering your Excuses and Self-Sabotages with Kathryn Mussell

We all have acknowledged reasons why we’re the exception to the rule, or why we aren’t allowed to be happy, healthy, wealthy and successful. This talk is to help you identify, recognize, admit and declare your acknowledged (and maybe some unacknowledged) excuses and self-sabotaging behaviors around why you’re not allowed to have exactly what you desire.

We all have acknowledged reasons why we’re the exception to the rule, or why we aren’t allowed to be happy, healthy, wealthy and successful. This talk is to help you identify, recognize, admit and declare your acknowledged (and maybe some unacknowledged) excuses and self-sabotaging behaviors around why you’re not allowed to have exactly what you desire.

When Self-Sabotage Looks Like Perfectionism with Naomi Gottlieb-Miller

If you’re inclined to be a little more on the perfectionist side of things, often you’ll use “not ideal” or “not exactly what I want” as excuses to avoid self-care.

I’ll share a few ideas on why you need to stop that line of thinking and how to do it!

How neglecting your emotional wellness will sabotage your business and your relationships with Chou Hallegra

Things we don’t pay attention to can become barriers to our personal growth, healing and success. Our emotional wellness affects every area of our lives and not taking care of your emotions will have a negative impact on your business, your health, and your relationships. Come learn how to take your blinders off and start prioritizing your emotional wellness so you can win in everything you do!

Positive Discipline with Martha Reddick

Positive Discipline with Martha Reddick


The Notable Woman is proud to present the Super U Summit, 30 empowering women speakers over 10 days.

In this Super U Summit Talk, nanny and teaching artist Martha P. Reddick presents Positive Discipline.


Martha Reddick has been a nanny and teaching artist in the Chicago area for over five years. She loves working with children and is both grateful and excited to blend her love of theater and education into her day job. Martha has her Masters in Education from the University of Tennessee and is in the process of receiving her Masters in Family Counseling from Northeastern Illinois University. Upon moving to Chicago, she discovered nannying and working with young children to be her passion! She loves finding new activities and adventures to engage children as they develop, and she has now created a new podcast to share her ideas with other nannies and parents.


There’s a lot of buzz around Positive Discipline and all it has to offer, but this is a childcare gamechanger! Positive Discipline can help get you out of power struggles with your kids and helps teach instead of punish. If you’re feeling at your wit’s end with a child’s behavior or if you’d simply like to build a better relationship with your little ones, this talk is for YOU!


Please join us by clicking on the link below, which will take you to Martha’s video in the Society for Notable Women Facebook group. (You must join the group to see the video.)

A Parent’s Role in Education

A Parent’s Role in Education


The Notable Woman is proud to present the Super U Summit, 30 empowering women speakers over 10 days.

In this Super U Summit Talk, early education adviser Melissa Droegemueller shares practical tips related to a parent’s role in education.


Melissa Droegemueller is an elementary school teacher–turned–homeschooling mom with over ten years of teaching experience. She has taught grades 1st through 4th, with a few years working with preschoolers, toddlers, and babies sprinkled in. She is passionate about helping busy parents connect with their kids through play, and she dreams of a world where all children are excited about learning and are being equipped to use their unique gifts to make a big difference in their communities.


We all want to raise children who are confident in the classroom. During this summit talk, former elementary school teacher Melissa Droegemueller will walk us through the three stages of the educational journey and share tips to inspire, empower, and encourage our children from Kindergarten to graduation.


Melissa’s free gift for you is her Bringing Learning to Life Workbook. You can check it out here.


Please join us by clicking on the link below, which will take you to Melissa’s video in the Society for Notable Women Facebook group. (You must join the group to see the video.)

Spark Your E.P.I.C. Year

Spark Your E.P.I.C. Year


The Notable Woman is proud to present the Super U Summit, 30 empowering women speakers over 10 days.

If you’re ready to reset your year, this Super U Summit Talk will prepare you for a truly E.P.I.C. year!


Mother’s Quest Founder, Julie Neale honors both the meaning and the mess of life and parenthood and believes our children and youth challenge us to grow into our best selves. She is on a mission to live a truly E.P.I.C. life and, through her example, inspire her children to do the same.

Her “for-purpose” venture, Mother’s Quest, provides inspiration, coaching and community so that mothers, and those who work with young people, can connect to support and resources, fulfill their unique purpose, and live their E.P.I.C. lives.

After a 20-year career as a leader in youth-serving non-profit organizations, Julie turned her focus to coaching, training at the Coaches Training Institute, and facilitating a process known as “reflection” for youth development professionals.

Through this and her parenting experience, she realized that mothers, and those who mother, need an opportunity to reflect on their own growth, dreams, and plans and created Mother’s Quest to champion them.

She writes about the transformative experience of parenting in her own life at and in the Mother’s Quest Facebook community and hosts the Mother’s Quest Podcast, which launched in December 2106, recently releasing its 50th episode.

Julie received her Masters in City Planning, Community Development from UC Berkeley and a BA in Communication Studies from UCLA, where she met her husband. She currently lives with her husband and two boys in the San Francisco Bay Area.

When she’s not wrestling with her kindergartener or driving her teen to basketball practice, you can find her squeezing in ten minutes of yoga and meditation (believing something is better than nothing!) and staying up way too late to watch a double-hitter of Game of Thrones and Super Soul Sunday.


Anyone else feel like they need a spring reset to their year?

Several months ago in the Mother’s Quest community, we declared February the new January and facilitated a Mother’s Quest Workshop/Virtual Milestone Hike experience to help us all start again.

Using photos from my favorite local hike, I took a small group on a virtual journey to:
Reflect on our last chapter (as we ascend)
Decide what we want to release (using an image of a big bad bonfire!) and what we want to carry forward
Then, set intentions along the E.P.I.C. guideposts for our new chapter.
There’s a special planning sheet we created to guide you and help you document the whole process.
?Truthfully, we can start fresh any time we choose. You can declare the month you’re in the new January!


Julie’s free gift for you is her E.P.I.C Life Planning Sheet. You can check it out here.


Please join us by clicking on the link below, which will take you to Julie’s video in the Society for Notable Women Facebook group. (You must join the group to see the video.)

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