Living Clutter Free Forever - decluttering tips, professional organizing, minimalist living

Do You Live With Someone Who Loves Organized Chaos? How To Let Them Be And Not Get Overwhelmed By Their Clutter with Jonnie Fielding #90

February 20, 2024 Caroline Thor - Professional Organizer - KonMari® Consultant
Do You Live With Someone Who Loves Organized Chaos? How To Let Them Be And Not Get Overwhelmed By Their Clutter with Jonnie Fielding #90
Living Clutter Free Forever - decluttering tips, professional organizing, minimalist living
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Living Clutter Free Forever - decluttering tips, professional organizing, minimalist living
Do You Live With Someone Who Loves Organized Chaos? How To Let Them Be And Not Get Overwhelmed By Their Clutter with Jonnie Fielding #90
Feb 20, 2024
Caroline Thor - Professional Organizer - KonMari® Consultant

Do you struggle to motivate your kids to tidy? Do you secretly enjoy being surrounded by clutter? 

Tune in as my brother Jonnie and I reminisce on our childhood and tidying as kids, as well as his experiences as a stepdad, and how he has had to navigate the difficulties of getting a kid to want to tidy up the mess they make. There are also his tales from Bowl of Chalk, his London walking tour business, revealing how even the most disorganized spaces can inspire the most detailed plans.

As a mom, I've been to battle with toys, laundry, and the mysterious items that seem to multiply in every corner of the house. Jonnie and I discuss the art of keeping a home in check amid the chaos of family life, offering up our strategies on maintaining sanity with simple systems and tidying games that make it a family affair.

We discuss how selective organization can mean letting go of perfection in one area to focus on where it counts.

Our quote frankly rambling conversation covers random topics like thank you card etiquette, the privacy of a teenager’s room, and the often humorous mismatch between a parent's vision and a child's reality when it comes to room organization.

My brother and I can talk for hours, so advance warning, this is a long episode! (and I cut alot out!)

For more tips and to continue your journey to a clutter-free life or a walking tour in London, check out the links below!
Join Caroline's Facebook Group HERE!
Check out Caroline's new podcast page HERE

Find Jonnie on Instagram HERE!
Find out more about Bowl of Chalk or book a walk HERE!


I would LOVE to hear from you. Text Message me here.

Thanks for listening! For more organizational motivation, support and free resources:
Join my online membership Clutter Free Collective
Join my podcast Facebook group Living Clutter Free Forever Podcast: KonMari® Inspired Organizing | Facebook
Visit my website www.caroline-thor.com
Come and say 'hi' on Instagram @caro.thor
Follow me on Facebook @carolineorganizer

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Do you struggle to motivate your kids to tidy? Do you secretly enjoy being surrounded by clutter? 

Tune in as my brother Jonnie and I reminisce on our childhood and tidying as kids, as well as his experiences as a stepdad, and how he has had to navigate the difficulties of getting a kid to want to tidy up the mess they make. There are also his tales from Bowl of Chalk, his London walking tour business, revealing how even the most disorganized spaces can inspire the most detailed plans.

As a mom, I've been to battle with toys, laundry, and the mysterious items that seem to multiply in every corner of the house. Jonnie and I discuss the art of keeping a home in check amid the chaos of family life, offering up our strategies on maintaining sanity with simple systems and tidying games that make it a family affair.

We discuss how selective organization can mean letting go of perfection in one area to focus on where it counts.

Our quote frankly rambling conversation covers random topics like thank you card etiquette, the privacy of a teenager’s room, and the often humorous mismatch between a parent's vision and a child's reality when it comes to room organization.

My brother and I can talk for hours, so advance warning, this is a long episode! (and I cut alot out!)

For more tips and to continue your journey to a clutter-free life or a walking tour in London, check out the links below!
Join Caroline's Facebook Group HERE!
Check out Caroline's new podcast page HERE

Find Jonnie on Instagram HERE!
Find out more about Bowl of Chalk or book a walk HERE!


I would LOVE to hear from you. Text Message me here.

Thanks for listening! For more organizational motivation, support and free resources:
Join my online membership Clutter Free Collective
Join my podcast Facebook group Living Clutter Free Forever Podcast: KonMari® Inspired Organizing | Facebook
Visit my website www.caroline-thor.com
Come and say 'hi' on Instagram @caro.thor
Follow me on Facebook @carolineorganizer

Speaker 1:

Hi there, I'm Caroline Thor, professional organizer, konmari consultant, teacher and mum of three. I started off my life as a mum feeling overwhelmed, disorganized and desperately trying to carve out some time for me amongst the nappies, chaos and clutter. One day, one small book called the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying changed everything and I began to learn strategies for making everyday life easier. Today, I have the systems in place that means life can throw almost anything at me, and I want to share them with you. If you're an overwhelmed mum struggling to keep it together, then this is the podcast for you. Grab a coffee and settle in for a quick chat with someone who gets your reality. Hello and welcome back to the Living Clutterfree Forever podcast.

Speaker 1:

Today is an episode full of firsts For many reasons. I will start off by letting you in on something that's been going on for a while, which is I've been having a new podcast page created for my website, and it has gone live today. So go and check it out caroline-thorcom forward slash podcast and you will be able to find out lots about me there, lots about the podcast, there's things to click on, there's a video that I've made for you, so go along and see what that's all about, and there's a link at the bottom where you can join my free Facebook group that I've put together especially for people that listen to this podcast so that we can connect and inspire and motivate each other in our decluttering and organizing journey. So I would love to see you there. I will include the link for that in the show notes for my website and for the Facebook group. And the second first today is that today I am talking to my brother, johnny, who is the first guy that I've interviewed on this podcast. I suddenly realized that so far only had female guests, and so it's a bit of a first today, and also the first time I've interviewed a family member.

Speaker 1:

And the reason I asked Johnny to be a guest is because there are lots of elements of his life where organization play a part and have in the past perhaps caused a few struggles and their things we've talked about together over the years. So I thought it would be interesting for you to hear what those are. And also because Johnny has an office the Jophice Johnny's office, as he calls it which is not particularly organized, that to the naked eye, would appear very cluttered, and I thought it would be interesting to talk to him a little bit about the psychology behind that and how he feels being in that environment and how it affects his home life and his business, as well as how it is for him being a stepdad to a gorgeous, lively eight-year-old girl and how helping her keep her bedroom organized has developed over the years. They've come up with an amazing strategy now, and I wanted for him to be able to share that with you as well. So, without further ado, here's our conversation. I'm warning you now it's a little bit long. So welcome, johnny. I curse.

Speaker 2:

Can I call you? Curse on here. You can call me.

Speaker 1:

Kaz on here, I think. Yeah, johnny has always called me Kaz ever since I've been little, and his stepdaughter calls me Kaz as well, which is a little bit unnerving, but anyway, so cool to have you here Today. The day we're recording is actually my birthday, and everyone's been saying to me what are you doing for your birthday? And I said I'm going to record a podcast episode with my brother, so what better way to spend my birthday morning than having a chat with you? So thank you for finding the time, and it's also a bit of a momentous chat today because you're the first male guest on my podcast. I don't know how I've managed to get so far into having a podcast and interviewed only women up until now, so you're setting history here. Well, I feel very honoured.

Speaker 2:

Thanks, yeah, you're welcome.

Speaker 1:

I couldn't think of anyone best to have a chat with. Anyway, the purpose of you being here today is to talk about organisation, in terms of, perhaps, how we remember our childhoods with organising, and therefore you're a good person to talk to about that, because you were there. And I would also like to talk to you about your experiences of helping a stepchild tidy up and get organised, because that's also something that you're an expert in. And then you also have a business Bowl of Chalk where you do London walking tours, and I would like to talk to you a little bit about your organisation for that as well.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, whether you are organised or not. So we will make a start having a little reminisce about our childhood. Do you remember at all what our family home was like as we were growing up? Would you describe it as tidy or disorganised? I think yeah, it was definitely tidy.

Speaker 2:

And it was something that I was thinking about actually Well, not just because of this, but I've thought about it before, particularly now. So just to reel back a little bit. So my girlfriend Kate came free with a small child and I was living a sort of hermetic existence on my own in a different part of London and then moved down to sort of fit in, you know, in their lives. So you know it wasn't my house, and then we were in a very small flat and then we've moved into a bigger house about three or three and a bit years ago.

Speaker 2:

So my thought with it was in terms of all that space and things, was that it kind of dawned on me that when we were kids or when we were kids, you live in a very adult house. You might have your room, that's your space that you can do what you want with, but the rest of the house is all your parents' stuff, pictures, ornaments, the way that they like it, and it's something that I hadn't really thought about. So I've often thought about whether we should try and not do the same thing. So we have some of my step-daughters' pictures up that she's done, that she can see, so she feels like part of it, and it is her house as much as ours as well. So I think that was just a sort of a that's just a sort of knock on from that.

Speaker 1:

Basically, that's interesting actually I've never thought about that. The fact that, yeah, your children are growing up on the ground floor to some extent, or certainly when we were kids, in an adult environment. I think perhaps there's probably been a generational shift in that a lot of people now will have lots of things for the kids in the living room. It's almost like a playroom. One of the biggest challenges that people I work with face is how do we get the living room back to an adult space in the evening, because it is so overrun with kids' toys and stuff during the day. So maybe there has been a shift, but certainly you're right, when we were kids it was an adult space.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean we just so my step-daughters, she's got your step niece, I suppose.

Speaker 1:

Yes, my step-niece.

Speaker 2:

And I always remember that it's that thing and I think it was also a bit of a throwback. So when other kids come round, it's like can I see your bedroom? Show me your bedroom, and that's the big thing. Your bedroom is your little domain. And so when we moved into the bigger house, one of the drawers as in, not a drawer as in one of the pool things that brought us there was that it had a room that could theoretically be an art room or a playroom.

Speaker 2:

So the interesting thing with that, which we can get onto, was that it just and that was her space. It became an absolute bomb site. We've aborted this whole idea after it's now a spare bedroom, now it's like a guest room for guests that come once a year. But basically the idea was great. It's like oh, this is great, she's going to have her own space. And then it became actually counterproductive because she couldn't get in there, because they were saying about stuff. She couldn't find anything. And then the other thing as well is that I think, although that she had stuff in there, she got stuff in her bedroom and she's got a big Barbie house or doll's house that I actually brought it down to the lounge a couple of days ago because she actually just even though she's playing and she's in her own little world, just knowing other people around, is quite nice for her. So to be part of the rest of the house.

Speaker 1:

I think a lot of kids love that. I know certainly one of my kids would always choose to play on the ground floor where I was cooking and I could see them in the living room, whereas another personality was quite happy to be up in their room on their own and wanted to be able to do their own thing without being disturbed. So that's very much, I think, a personality thing. But I hear there's a lot that kids want to be in the space where the parent is, or near where they are, so that they don't feel like they're on their own.

Speaker 2:

Yeah or another little thing is that we also just by the front door, because we've got a sort of little hall and all her pegs and her things are down low where she can get them, which we never had. You know, that wasn't a thing. You basically you were living in an adult house. So just to try and make it a little bit, I mean, I don't know, we haven't done it massively Well, but there's certainly more than I think when we were kids. So that's my main over-idy memory. It was very neat and tidy, I would say.

Speaker 2:

I don't really have. I know that you do, but I don't have a massively overwhelming memory of clearing up or Dramas involved with that. Maybe our mother would have a very different take on it.

Speaker 1:

But possibly we should have invited her to come and join the chat as well. I didn't think that Do you what? What memory do you have of your bedroom? Do you remember your bedroom being tidy, or do you not have any memory of that at all?

Speaker 2:

I Don't remember it being untidy.

Speaker 1:

I.

Speaker 2:

I remember lots of Tubbs detergent tubs like personal tubs, the things that we reuse like big plastic things and all my cars went in or all my style wall speakers went in another and they all had their own sort of little place and I think I generally genuinely would, would put them all back. I certainly remember something that we've obviously carried on is that you don't get something else out until you put away the thing before. I sort of remember that as being a thing.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and your transformers.

Speaker 2:

Transformers, yeah, yes, which your, your son, now has some of, will probably has grown out of those now.

Speaker 1:

He does, he does still have them. Yeah, he does still have retro 80s, vintage Transformers.

Speaker 2:

I mean, I still have some of my Star Wars, because now, I mean, the amazing thing is is that I obviously kept them in pristine Well, not pristine condition, but, for instance, I've got a Darth Vader one who has a little lightsaber that comes out of his hand that was retractable and I managed to keep it for what like 35, 36, over, you know, 30 odd years, and then my stepdaughter got hold of it and broke it within about 20 seconds, you know, and it's, it's just like I've literally had, you know yes, but this is what I mean and that is very much a personality thing.

Speaker 1:

So that would suggest because your, your transformers, appeared when you gave them to my son. They were in great condition and I think you probably there's a couple of them that aren't in such great condition anymore because he really played with them, but that would suggest you really took care of your stuff as a kid.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I suppose, yeah, yeah, I think I did yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, because if things had been lying around on the floor and getting trodden on as has happened with one of my children To numerous toys, then they get broken very quickly. So that would yeah, that would suggest that you were picking stuff up and tidying them up and putting them away.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, and I think also the fact that I still have them says quite a lot, or that I had them to be able to sort of pass on and yeah, which you know maybe we'll get on to, which I think is a trait of just generally in Now I keep keep things, yes.

Speaker 1:

Yes, we will come on to that. We will. Definitely my memory of my bedroom as a kid. I always had a spare bed in my room, because my room would double up as the guest room if people came to stay and the spare bed for me was just Like my worst nightmare, because I would put stuff on it and it would pile up there and I would have piles of things on the spare bed. And then if I was asked to tidy my bedroom I've said this before in a previous episode my go-to was to get a plastic bag from the supermarket and stuff everything in a plastic bag and hide it under my bed. But then I never knew where anything was. I could never find it again.

Speaker 2:

I didn't do that, but why did you? Could you not be bothered? Did you? Did you not like the idea of having to tidy up? Was it? Was it because you were doing other things? I think with my stepdaughter is that it's so so many other exciting things that she could be doing and it's a waste of time, so I don't know whether it's yeah, yeah, possibly I think more with me.

Speaker 1:

I always was never quite sure when things particularly should go back to and I wanted it to be done quickly and if you're gonna make sure that things go back in a place, that takes more time. So it was just easier to put them in a bag and stick them under the bed and also it then looked like I've done a really good job. So I would then be told well done, you've done a really great job of tidying your room and my like. I had a built-in desk I don't know if you remember at the end of my room they were like those cupboards built in cupboards, and in the middle was a built-in desk and it had like drawers and stuff and I I mean there was just stuff everywhere. I used to have to sort of clear it to be able to do Any homework or let my hands to run around on there, because we look with surfaces Surfaces just so good just for sticking things on.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, I'll sort that out. So we got a new bed. That was a sort of it was a compromise from a bunk bed for my stepdaughter which was, and we couldn't actually for the room. It just wouldn't fit in anyway. So we've got a slightly raised one which now has an under bit which our cat actually loves hanging out in more than anyone else, but he's also great for just dumping stuff under there, out of the way, outside, out of mind.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, but it comes with a sort of little Desk table thing which she ideally would like to have a chair in that. But then and then Basically every surface is just now full of stuff. And then it's because it's right by her bed. It's a nightmare because everything gets knocked off while she's asleep and you get woken up by all this stuff Cascading off, you know, and have to try and move it before she goes to bed, but then there's nowhere else to put it. So, yeah, I think they're having places to put things is a good one. So the stuff that we've kind of been oh, I'm moving on now already have I that's okay, you can move on.

Speaker 2:

I think I was talking to Kate yesterday, my girlfriend, which I know that. You know that I'm yeah. And about some of the stuff that I might mention, and she's pointed out to me that all the things that we've implemented I think you suggested and I've, I'd forgotten that and I was very much under the impression I've done it all myself. Apparently, it turns out I'm not that clever and that you actually told us that this is what we should be doing and I'd forgotten. So thanks for that.

Speaker 1:

You're very bogus and what have you implemented that I suggested? I'm very fascinated.

Speaker 2:

Well, one of the things is Kate got one of those little little gun things that prints out sticker. You know little things. So we, we put labels onto things.

Speaker 2:

So all the Barbies go in one drawer or the Other. You know, so things go in particular drawers and so she can then see and I think because when she was very young we did pictures because she couldn't read, so it was just so she knew and in fact you know, to be fair, she really does like things having the right place and going into the right place and I think it helps her massively To the point that she actually got fed up with the fact that she's got a set of drawers. You know you each one's like pyjama, re stuff, pants and socks, leggings, and I never remember and she actually drew me a little picture, so I knew where because she got fed up with the fact that I was putting him in them in the wrong drawers. So then she did it back as, came down with a little plan of her drawers and where everything goes.

Speaker 2:

So, I would know. So that was one of the. That was probably, you know, one of the main things, that just things have a place and this is yeah, definitely so.

Speaker 1:

We've talked a bit about our childhood and how our rooms were, as much as we can remember. It's amazing what you forget, isn't it? So you're now running a business. Tell us a bit about your business and what you do.

Speaker 2:

I forgot to ask you about that at the beginning, so for 12 years or so I've been running my own walking tour. I Say company, very loose you know thing, enterprise which is just me on my own and I sort of wander around talking to people about London. It's called bowl of chalk, which officially is sort of cockney rhyming slang for walk, although there are a few different ones and I do every couple of weeks get proper cockneys writing to tell me that it's actually ball of chalk, ball of chalk mate. My name never said bowl of chalk, sorry, it's a bit cock cockney is there, which I knew that, but I just preferred the sound of bowl of chalk. Now I sort of regret that, but anyway, so there. So it's cockney rhyming slang.

Speaker 2:

Fit your walk, unless you're a proper cockney and it's not, and that's what I do. So I just walk around and I do private tours for people on holiday or people visiting London and Might meet them at their hotel or where they're staying or you know all that kind of stuff. I also do corporate tours for businesses or exploring around their offices or you know, pub crawl things or whatever Families. And then I do group walks on weekends. So I'm currently doing two weekends a month. I had been doing more and I do about six walks a weekend and a lot of Londoners sort of seem to come on, come on those. So yeah, so I think in a nutshell, that's kind of what you do sort of it really busy.

Speaker 1:

Are these days really busy? How do you find Organizing everything for your business? Because I know you've got your office space at home and for those people, what you're listening nobody can see because I haven't put the video out so but I can see Johnny sitting here talking to me and there's a window sale to the right of him and it's piled with stuff, piled books and papers all mixed together, and then there's like a guitar propped up against a bookshelf that's got books higgledy-piggledy all over the place because he's got so many books he's not got room for them all. So I mean that physical organization in the room I don't think probably is a reflection of the sort of mental organization, if you like, that goes into running your business. So would you say the two things are very different. Are you mentally very organized when it comes to running the business, but with stuff it's a bit more chaotic? Or how would you describe your organization?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's interesting actually. I actually had thought about this prior to our chat and I think generally most people would assume that a messy, chaotic looking space means that doesn't equate to that person being organized. But I don't think the two are mutually exclusive or inclusive. Whichever one I mean.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I totally agree yeah, and I have selective organization, if that's a thing and it basically is the same with anything else in my life which is that if I'm interested in it I'm on it and if it doesn't interest me I don't care. So, for instance, you know, I've been collecting old postcards from the Victorian period up Edwardian period and so you know up, and I sort of very diligently put them into little plastic sleeves, label them into which monarch you know reign its from, I kind of write out, try and work out what they've written and write it out myself so I could although no one can read my hand writing anyway, but it better say that I could, so I can read, and they're all very nicely catalogued. But if I get a letter from the bank I probably won't open it.

Speaker 1:

That is Johnny, that is so common, that is so, so common.

Speaker 2:

So and it just depends, and it also in my business, in my work, I have to be very organized because I'm dealing with people on holiday. I can't mess up, I can't double book, I have to get to places on time. And also it's a confidence thing as well, that you know. I need to know what I'm talking about, I need to feel confident what I'm doing, and so I'm, you know, super organized in a quite an old-school way. I still I do everything in little notebooks and I write lists and I cross everything off and and similarly. But with finances for the business, I'm fine and I would keep all my receipts and I have noted everything down and all my, how much I earn for tax things. All this you know, that's all fine, but generally you know how stuff bills really. You know, sometimes people ask me like, oh, who's your internet provider, who? I have no idea how much you pay for a thing I don't know. But fortunately Kate has more interest in that. Well, maybe she doesn't, maybe she just has to pick up the the reins a little bit, I don't know. But so it's definitely selective organization. I think a little bit about it as well, which I know.

Speaker 2:

Obviously your whole thing is very much about keeping things organizing, and I have, you know, gone through stages where I've thought, well, maybe I don't, you know, I just, it's true, I don't need all this stuff. I don't need all these things and obviously, having moved house a lot over the years, one of my big things is boxes and boxes of books, many of which I will never read ever again, and I cart them around and he's like, well, you can get all these on a, on a Kindle. Now I can get all my music on a phone. I don't you know whatever, and but I kind of, I just I think I'm some. Maybe I just I'm now making it up on my own behalf, but I think I've some someone who I like to feel connected to lots of different things in different parts of my life. Now, that's just an excuse, isn't it?

Speaker 1:

anyway, but you know and I like to.

Speaker 2:

I like layers, so in light in London, I like talking about the different layers of London. I like the fact that you can walk down a street and if you know where to look, you can see something you know within a few steps. There's something Roman, there's something medieval, there's something Saxon, there's World War two bombed out church, there's a modern building. You've got all this stuff and I kind of you know, just have all these little bits of history and things knocking about.

Speaker 2:

Maybe, you know, maybe I've just made that up now, but maybe all, but I don't know, maybe it's. But the other thing as well, is it so to give you a night? You know you discuss the joffice, which is the room that I sort of sit in, but in the general house I'm very tidy and Kate might disagree, but I don't think she would like I do. You know, in terms of making sure always do the washing up, always then try and clean around, try and keep the house neat in the all the communal spaces. But this is kind of like my own domain and I think a great way of encapsulating it was a little kids who's a became friends of ours. We've got two little kids I can't remember how old he is, he might be three or four and my room's right by the front door and Kate generally tries to shut it so no one can see when here when they come in. And the door was open and he just wandered in and he looked around and he said is this where all the lost things come?

Speaker 2:

oh, bless him and I just thought, yeah, that's kind of it, isn't it?

Speaker 1:

you just nailed it, mate so they're not lost because they belong to you and you know that they're there. I want to just go back to something you said right at the start of this, this bit that we're talking about, which is that some people think if you're in a very disorganized space, then it's not possible to be organized, and I totally agree with you. I think some people can be in a space that to everyone else would appear to be totally disorganized, but they themselves function very well in it and they almost need it to be like that to function. It makes them feel uncomfortable if they haven't got their stuff around them and that is almost like a cocoon that they've. They've got around themselves and then you, they know where everything is and that's fine.

Speaker 1:

I think the problem that I see, especially with a lot of people in my membership at the moment, is that they have a disorganized space but they're not enjoying it. They don't feel comfortable in it, and I think those are the two types of people because when the clutter because I wouldn't necessarily say that what you've got around you is clutter, because it's stuff you've chosen to keep, if that makes sense clutter, I think, is stuff that we have lying around that actually serves no purpose at all for us, whereas you have held on to things for a purpose, even if that's just because you like the connection to them so there is.

Speaker 2:

There is a lot of clutter as well. Okay, that's got to come in. I'll let them through the door window.

Speaker 1:

Johnny's just letting the cat in on dude this is Milo just coming in. It's cold as well. It's cold outside, so he needs to come in here. He comes, here he comes there's always cat, there we go Milo across the camera, fantastic okay.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, I do have a lot of clutter. I did have a plan for the new year I always think it's good to start the new year in a new frame of mind afresh and I basically have piles. I write things on bits of paper and I have piles and I don't need them all, so they're all right, right here, and a lot of all this stuff behind I don't need.

Speaker 2:

So I can clear out all that and I do periodically do that yeah it's painful, but I would probably secretly like to keep all of it just in case, and I also have loads of little tubs and things that have come in a jar or and all that will come in. Oh yes, so keep that. I've got those everywhere as well.

Speaker 1:

I think it's really interesting the two different types of personalities, those people like you that actually feel comfortable in that space, and then those people and I would class myself as this type of person that I can put up with a certain amount of disorganization and things lying around, and then I get to a point where it starts to make me feel overwhelmed because I don't know where things are and that bothers me. But I get the feeling that actually you know where things are. Yeah, space, wasn't there a thing recently with your stepdaughter that she came in? She'd taken something?

Speaker 2:

well, no. So she comes in and removes things from my office. I basically do not. I do crafting, but I make cards and I make things and I draw stuff and I have some nice, you know, like a nice cutting board and I've got the colored pencils and I've got nice pens she's I keep using the word nice and I've got my own glue and I've got all this stuff and then nice nice stuff yeah, and my and my stepdaughter, you know, just come and borrow it and then I'd never see it ever again, and then she wouldn't know.

Speaker 2:

So I've periodically bought her all of her own ones, like all of her own things, and she's then still comes like I will where's your cellotape? I don't know, there's no idea, or the lids been left off and it's all ruined. You know, yeah, drives me nuts.

Speaker 1:

So that's very normal with kids. Johnny, oh, yeah, yeah yeah, yeah, but.

Speaker 2:

But she was basically saying that she will come and take something. And she was saying, as soon as you walk in, you go where's my cellotape? Right, where is it? You know she's a. How do you do it? So, from her point of view is that it looks like an absolute mess and that she can't possibly understand how I can notice one little thing that's gone.

Speaker 2:

But the other thing as well is that I'm a weird mix of being very don't want to say the word creative, but I have lots of things going on and I guess, ideas and things happening and but I like, I love structure, so it's a weird, it's a weird mix of things and so I absolutely really like structure and knowing things and when things are happening and all this kind of stuff. But I keep saying stuff, but I also will always put things in the same place. So Kate, for instance, will quite often not be able to find her keys when she's leaving the house. She won't remember where her phone is and she'll be getting stressed. I put everything in the same place as soon as I walk in, my phone goes in the same place, my keys go in the same place, everything within all that mess, things are in the exact same place, where I don't have to think yeah, that's really good.

Speaker 2:

I don't like having to think about things that I don't find necessary to think about. So, for instance which might annoy Kate, where basically wearing the same stuff every day don't have to even think about that. I even went through a year of a year or so the same thing every day, so I didn't have to even think about that. So this is something I found quite difficult with family life is actually having to think about food, eating something different every day. So why, you know? Just eat the same thing, it's fine.

Speaker 1:

No, so it's nutritionally a bit dodgy though, johnny, I hope our parents don't listen to this episode, johnny, yeah so so I do, yeah, I do know where things go?

Speaker 2:

I do, you know, that's cool, I'm the same.

Speaker 1:

I've got a place where I come in, I put my bag, I have a place for my keys. Always the thing I can never find ever is my phone, because I very often have got it with me and then perhaps something happens with one of the kids. They need help with something, so I just put it down because I don't want to be looking at my phone when I'm talking to the kids yeah, yeah, yeah go off and deal with the kids.

Speaker 1:

My phone's always on silent so I'm not particularly bothered about it a lot of the time. But then when I come to need it, the amount of times I have to call everyone and say, can we all look for my phone because I need to leave the house, it's turned into that. So that does annoy me that I I can't ever find my phone and I'm not great with my glasses either.

Speaker 2:

I do the same. I started wearing them last year and I do the same thing now, but take them off and then, yeah, all enough to hide they are.

Speaker 1:

They're small enough to hide, definitely. So we've sort of already touched on this, but how has your experience of helping a child keep their space tidy been? And my second part, I guess, to this question would be do you think being a step-parent has had any effect on that? I don't know if effect is the right word, but, yeah, do you think it's influenced it or changed how easy it is at all?

Speaker 2:

So I'll probably start with the step-parent thing first, and obviously everyone's experience is different and it also depends on the age of the kid. So my step-daughter had just turned two, so she was very, very small. So I was sort of thrust into this environment of, well, two year olds and everything that is involved with that. So the other thing as well is that I think initially she probably thought, and so she now doesn't, she doesn't remember me not being there, I suppose. But it's the change in the relationship. So you start off as she was probably thought I was. You know, her mum had got me around literally just to play with her and I was this sort of fun guy who came around and was a bit silly and stuff. And then it's how the relationship changes into more of a parental role and then the sort of upshot of suddenly asking her can you do this, Can you do that? And just sort of negotiating that. So that's been the main thing.

Speaker 1:

What's your experience been of trying to help her tidy her rooms? Is there anything that, over the years, have been difficult?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I suppose. Well, first of all, I guess, coming in like having I mean, I guess no parent has any experience apart from when you've already had one but literally coming in with no expectations or thoughts about how things work, and I think one of the things that sort of blew my mind a little bit, which is silly, but is that you can't just say to kids can you just sort out your room, and I'll come back in 10 minutes and expect it to be done, yeah, and sort of micromanaging you having to be there, be present, and it's quite annoying. Or getting ready for school and saying you know, right, make sure you've got your socks on, make sure you've got a jumper and have done your teeth, and I'll meet you downstairs. So that's four things. Yeah, none of them will happen. You're not going to be busy playing, or and it's just like, oh, yeah, I have to actually be here. So, and then the other thing as well, is that just the not really ready for how problematic just clearing a room can become. Yeah, and we also, you know, generally the thing which is, you know, now absolutely avoid, is that it was a sort of final thought of the day, sort of just before bed. So you go oh God, hang on, we can't get to bed because the room set, and then you're not, you know, you then have to start on that. Then that goes very, very badly, then that leads to a bad bedtime. Everybody's in a bad mood, you know, and it's just a massive no, no, yeah.

Speaker 2:

So one of the things was introducing tidying the room earlier, which generally you know, go, oh, you've got, you know, maybe making dinner or whatever, and then she'll on board, what can I? Well, again, just make sure your room's tidying and it's done, and then that will be a no, so you can't add, and then it's. What we generally do is, maybe if we have a sort of little family game or doing something just before bed or something's going to happen, but nothing can happen until the room has been tidied a little bit ahead of bedtime. And then the other thing as well is that which was I thought I'd realized this, but apparently you told me this which was the overwhelm of being overwhelmed by so much stuff. So I think I do this anyway myself, just to bring it back to me here but which is that I compartmentalize things and I break things down into little bits, and so it's like she's.

Speaker 2:

Obviously she was faced with this absolute tornado of a room with things everywhere and is unable to go hang on. If I just do Barbies, then I just do all my clothes and I do all the notepads and then I put that but needs, needs, help, needs guiding through it, which I think is what you said told us, and so we've set up this little role where I can't remember the term, but I will always be the director of tidying consultant consultant consultant.

Speaker 2:

So, and then also it was that, can you go and do it now, you know, and okay, so it have to be, I will come with you, which is always a good one, but I'm not going to do it, because then you go up and she doesn't do anything and you end up doing all the time and then you get even more frustrated that if she had had a meltdown, because he's literally, and the thing that also amazed me, how quickly the mess can be made, but then how incredibly slowly she puts it away, yeah, methodically and in pristy, everything in tiny, like just put it away.

Speaker 1:

Let's just throw it in a bin.

Speaker 2:

So then, and she actually really responded well and appreciate someone coming with her or me going with her and being her tidying consultant. So we stand and we look at it, and then she actually then becomes very eager in, actually then classically doesn't even listen because she's soon, as you mentioned, the first thing. She's then on to that. So no, no, no, no, let's you know. So then. And then, so is that really so just breaking it down for her into, it's not as bad as you think it looks bad, but it's not. It's actually going to take you no time at all. And but if you do it like this, so just just only do Barbie stuff, only then do this, then do that. And before you know it, if there's anything that's too high up, I can do that, I can help with that. You know, hanging things up, generally I'll be a hanger. And then the other thing, which was the timers timers, coloured timers, and giving her challenges.

Speaker 2:

Do you think you can do it in five minutes? And then, and then she can actually visually see. Yeah unfortunately she never worked out. You just have to return them back over and then it starts all over again. But Tell her that you can.

Speaker 1:

You can keep extending that five minutes for as long as you need to.

Speaker 2:

So there's that. And then the other thing that you mentioned, I think, putting music on. And I get it, I completely understand that, but for us that wouldn't work. That would become too distracting. The music and dancing around would take over it's. Although I can see how it could work, for us that that I don't think would work at all.

Speaker 1:

No but, then maybe for someone like her who is very high energy, then having this thing of when, when we finished our tidy and consulting and we've managed to do, your room will have a dance party. So it's like the carrot for after, because she does enjoy dancing and doing silly stuff with you.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, but quite often that would be sort of in the evening and you maybe don't want to ramp it up too soon, that's true.

Speaker 1:

Yes, I absolutely love the fact that you have become her tidy and consultant. I think it is so cool, not only because of the fact that her room is getting tidied without there being this big conflict, which is what, let's face it, we're all trying to avoid, but also it's a chance every day for you and her to have a connecting point, like you're doing something together. She sees that you're supporting her, so it's an amazing connection that you're having through tidying.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I hadn't really thought of it like that. The other, the other thing that we did, which is this different type of tidying, but which became a thing we haven't done it for ages, actually which was litter picking around the area oh cool, and I basically just because I have a thing about people dropping litter, so I was doing it myself and I got myself one of those sticky things to pick up a litter picker, that would be it, and I just didn't.

Speaker 2:

I didn't even think about her that she would want to, and when she found out I was doing it, she wanted to come and obviously it was far too big and it was just it was. It was incredibly painful experience trying to, you know, get the stuff into a bag and she was missing and it was blowing everywhere. And then so I got her her own small child one oh how cool and we go off and do a little circuit around our area and she, she really loves doing that and doing litter picking. That's so cool. The other thing as well, which which I haven't tried is a room tidying strategy, but brings me on something else that I do remember from our childhood, which isn't necessarily tidying but doesn't fall into that category, but it's a similar kind of vibe, I reckon, and so and this was literally last night so she'd got a Polaroid camera from her granny for Christmas time and then yesterday her granny also, which I think was one of these things that had taken ages to write, with some accessories for it. So a little case and little album things and little any.

Speaker 2:

And then obviously she watches, or has seen, sort of YouTube videos when people talk through unboxing stuff or this is the thing, and she likes doing that. So we did it. She laid everything out very, very neatly on a, on a little thing, a tabley thing, and she said right, I'm going to do this thing because Kate was out, I'm going to do this thing, I'm going to do it in American accent and I don't want you to say anything. I'll ask any questions, I just want you to watch it. And then I saw I was like okay, because she does everything in American accent.

Speaker 2:

because everyone's American, she plays in an American accent.

Speaker 1:

Lots of kids do that because they've been watching stuff, so anyway.

Speaker 2:

So it was great. And then I ended up getting involved. I was called Sandy turns out and we both did it together. So no, we weren't actually filming, no one was filming anything, but we just pretended that we were doing it and we were having a thank you card making week.

Speaker 1:

Oh, don't get me started on thank you cards.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah. So this is something I do remember. So we have been doing them. Yours is, yours is waiting to Go in the post. I've got to go to the post office, so, anyway, and I say, well, how about, as a, we do a similar things, we need to make these. And then you do it like you're. You're doing a tutorial about how to make a thank you card. So that's how it did. Take a little while, but that was mainly the amount of things got stuck on it in very laborious way, but she does really like the being a sort of teacher role or telling people and explaining. So that's another kind of game, is you know? And I suddenly thought of it in terms of room tidying. Maybe maybe we could be doing a fake YouTube tutorial whatever the word is on how tutorial, tutorial on how to tidy your room and turn it into To that, because she really enjoys it and even if it involves an American accent, it will get it done.

Speaker 1:

That's fantastic. I love that.

Speaker 2:

I'm going to try that I Rex at some point.

Speaker 1:

I'm going to add that to my list, I think.

Speaker 2:

And she does. She does like things being you know, we've got some shelves and she does like things being neatly put away. So she's got a Tony box with the little figures which you've got her some of, and they were all ended up in a thing. So we've got this special shelf which actually has little magnets on, so just for the Tony box that fits in her face and she loves them being up and they're just slightly out of the way. So she's banging her head like just by her bed and then, and then she, you know, she, she likes things being in a nice, a nice place. So on the thank you card note, that's something that I find quite interesting, which is that obviously I have horrendous memories of writing thank you cards. In terms of your handwriting is not right. You've made a spelling error. You literally like nailed to the dining room table, kitchen table or whatever, until you'd gone to had them all done, and it was horrific.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And I think that's the most important thing, and I don't want it to become a horrendous experience. Yeah, for that reason, I have never encouraged my children to write, thank you cards.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, Because I just yeah, it has bad memories and then I've never thought about it. And also we live in Germany and the Germans do not send thank you cards for anything. No reason not to be the change you seek, as in the world.

Speaker 2:

Sorry, as Mahatma Gandhi said, be the change you wish to see in the world. Yeah, exactly, and also when they were little. They only write in German. There was no you sending them to the world.

Speaker 1:

If they're all written in German. So it's just something we've never really got into or that I have particularly encouraged, because it's something that I personally will try to avoid at all costs. So Fair enough, I get that. I just think you know I'm sort of coming from.

Speaker 2:

I think it's nice to acknowledge when because she also has a birthday, just because there's a whole load of stuff, yeah, and it doesn't just disappear into a melee that she actually thinks about it and thinks who's given her these things and has thanked them. But I don't want that to be, which I think is important, but I don't want it to be a horrendous chore.

Speaker 1:

So we've all the thing I've never understood with thank you cards is when you've actually seen the person and said thank you, like actually on the day, why you would then need to write to them again afterwards that that never made any sense to me at all. Fair enough, yeah, so yeah, but we love receiving your cards because they are very creative and fun and that's really cool, even if you can't read my handwriting, yeah, and that sort of.

Speaker 1:

That sort of leads nicely onto my last question that I'd thought about for you, which is how do you navigate the balance between maintaining sort of organization and order in her room and allowing for her to have personal expression? Because I think sometimes as parents we're guilty of trying to impose what we think is system and order and tidy on a child's room where actually that makes them feel uncomfortable or they don't feel comfortable. I don't know if we have found a balance.

Speaker 2:

I think it feels like we're sort of firefighting a little bit more than anything else and just trying to clear some space. The other thing I was sat there because when we do story times, so sometimes Kate will be on, do stories on the bed and someone will be sitting on a beanbag, and vice versa. And I was sitting there the other day looking around her room, which is an massive tip, and all the shelves are just crammed with things that she has no idea, and then I went well, it's just like my room. I basically now sort of tried to impose on her something that I'm not doing myself in my own space, which she knows because she comes in here. Yeah, that's very true actually. So no, we haven't, we haven't found.

Speaker 2:

So I mean, the self expression thing probably comes under her art room that I was talking about earlier. That ended up horrendous, and then she refused to do anything about it, yeah, and so it ended up sort of aborting the whole idea really. But she was actually really up for it becoming a sort of guest room and which we were really surprised about and really wanted to get involved with helping with that and how it would be painted or what the curtains would look like and stuff. So it might. She still has stuff in there, but it has to be kept to one bit. So it might be that we thought that she would like to have an art room, but actually maybe she didn't herself and it was down on another floor and it was away from everyone else, so it was actually detrimental, so it didn't really work and she would actually rather just be in the lounge or where someone is.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I think that's something that a lot of parents do is we? We assume this is what the kids want, so we get the thing, or we create the thing, or we organize it so they can have it like that, without actually thinking about whether it's actually what the child would like and going. Going back to self expression, my kids rooms were generally really tidy when they were younger because we would have tidy up time each evening just before dinner and they would get their rooms tidied up and at that time we had a winter garden on the back of the house and that was a bit more like a playroom. All that would get tidied up every day. I sort of had control over that, if you like, because it was something that we did. But now that they're teenagers pretty much all of them and they go up to their rooms when they come home from school and then I won't see them again until I call them for dinner. They sort of come out of their caves and then go back again afterwards.

Speaker 1:

The level of mess sometimes is phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal, and I had a very funny well, I don't know if it is funny, but an episode last week where one child they have a sofa bed in their room so that if Pete friends come to stay. So they've been putting their clothes piled up on the sofa and I was like you have a wardrobe, you have the chest of drawers. Would it be possible that maybe the clothes are kept in there? Well, I can see them here, you can just pick them up. So okay.

Speaker 1:

And then for Christmas they got some new instruments which they're really into electric guitar, ukulele so everything was cleared off this sofa bed to make space for the instruments. And when I went in later that week the big pile of clothes was now on the floor in the middle of the room and I just sort of looked at them and said wardrobe, chest of drawers or the bed would be preferable. No, they can't go there now. And that's now where the instruments go. And you're sort of thinking, okay, there's no logic to this whatsoever. But I do think as well, they've got to the age now where they have a right to choose what their room looks like and how they set it up. And if they're happy to have all their clothes on the floor in a big pile, then that's their problem. Well, that's where.

Speaker 2:

I put mine. I just have a pile on the floor and that's where they go and I'm very happy with them there. And yeah, I think the other thing as well is that, you know, living in a shared space is that, say, in our bedroom me and Kate's bedroom having things she thinks that she doesn't think are appropriate on the shelves, like, oh, I don't like tools and you know things that really should be in a shed or somewhere else, and I'm very happy with them around. And it drives her a little bit mad about all these things that just I have to see all the I don't want them here. Why are they? And then stay there for ages?

Speaker 1:

I'm so glad I don't have to live with you, Johnny.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean, that's just the tip of the iceberg, isn't it really?

Speaker 1:

Fantastic. Well, it's been so cool talking to you today. What a great way to spend an hour of my birthday. So that's very cool. Where can people find out about you and can you tell us about your subscription, because I just think this is such a cool thing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so if you look up bowl of chalk B-O-W-L of chalk C-H-A-L-K bowl of chalk, that is bowlofchalknet is the website, and then I have an Instagram account, which is at bowlofchalk, and that's where I've been over the last year posting some fun London facts. Sort of become the fun London fact guy you have. Not fact guy, fact guy, and now I have. And then it went. We went a little bit mad last year.

Speaker 1:

It snowballed a bit, didn't?

Speaker 2:

it. And then I, and what happened is I got been approached by a few people about basically advertising for them, and it's something that I'm not entirely sure I mean not that I would write it off, but it has to feel right and they just didn't really. And then also, having seen a few people who like sort of similar to myself doing that, and it's just like they're basically you're just being paid to sell something to someone you know, your followers or whatever and so I decided that I would rather keep the fun facts for everyone. That's why I would rather subscribe, to mail me a subscription at the huge price of 99 pence a month, where, where I post other I hate using the word content I prefer London East stuff, so other London videos and things, and Then I'm Wherever I Comes in from.

Speaker 2:

Now I'm splitting and I'm basically gonna have a sort of a London based charity each Year. That is my main one, and this year I'll see how it goes is the London's air ambulance, which is a they. They get no government funding there. It's an entirely charity based thing and they've got two helicopters and they need to replace them at a cost of 15 million pounds. Wow, they're incredible really. They, they.

Speaker 2:

A lot of it is trauma stuff in London or obviously, you know, in some cases, violence and things, but a lot of traffic accidents and stuff, and it means that I think people assume that it means that the, the, the people get taken to the hospital, but actually it's the medics, the paramedics they have and the consultants that work for them get to the scene that much quicker. Yeah, they have the ability to perform lots of things on the side of a road that no one else can, so it might be that after that they have managed to save them and then they get taken an ambulance and I think they said to me something like only five percent actually then go back in the helicopter, so it's actually more to get there quickly, anyway. So I'm gonna be sort of helping, try and promote them and hopefully raise a bit of money for them, and I just love the idea of making London videos for people in London and elsewhere and then doing something positive For a London based charity was my plan.

Speaker 1:

Very cool. I love that, and I think you're right. If you're going to promote something, it has to be very aligned to you, and so doing this, I think, is just perfect for you. A 99p a month, I mean, that's peanuts, isn't it?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah that's, that's like you. Yeah, yes, exactly. Everyone route around under your sofa cushions and you'll be able to afford a subscription To Johnny's bowl of chalk Instagram, which would be very cool. Well, thank you very much. I'll put all the links in the show notes so that people can find you. It's been so cool to have a chat with you about all things Organizing and life in general today. It's. It's always fun talking to you. I know when we get talking we we can talk for hours, so this is quite short for us today, so I hope everyone has enjoyed it and they've found out a little bit more about me as well, so that's not a bad thing, and people found out a little bit more about you, which might be about Well, if I find a final, final thing on your note, I've just suddenly remembered which is about your tidying, which was that you used to hide Wrappers in your girls world head.

Speaker 2:

I did that. No one could find them or know all the evidence that you'd been secretly eating.

Speaker 1:

Yes, I used to sneak the chocolates out of the kitchen and then hide the evidence in my girls world head. Yeah yes, you see, I was tidy.

Speaker 2:

I will have a good rest of your birthday. Thank you, I was to speak to you.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you too, and yeah, speak to you again soon. Well, if you've made it to the end, congratulations. I hope you found many elements of that conversation useful. I think it was so interesting to hear how Johnny actually feels he thrives in his joffice with all this clutter and seeming chaos around him Although for him it clearly isn't chaotic and I think it's so great how he and his stepdaughter have found an amazing solution to help Organizing and tidying her bedroom be something fun and also a great way for them to connect and do something together.

Speaker 1:

If you are interested in following Johnny on Instagram, I will put the link in the show notes. You will be one of many, many followers. He's got a ridiculously large following on Instagram, so shout out to you if you're one of those people and please do subscribe to his Instagram if you would like to help support London Air ambulance. It's such a brilliant cause and you get the added benefit of having some amazing content from Johnny as well about London. I will also include the link to his London walking tours bowl of chalk, in case you find out you're going to be in London and you fancy booking a walk with him.

Speaker 1:

Okay, all the links from this episode are in the show notes. As I said before, and as usual, until next time, if you've enjoyed this episode, please send the link to a friend you know would appreciate it, subscribe and leave a review. I look forward to bringing you more organizing tips next time, but if you can't wait until then, you can go to my website or find me on Instagram, at carothor, or on Facebook at Caroline organizer. Thanks for listening and I look forward to guiding you on your journey to find your clutter-free ever after.

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