Kait Boal Schulhof is the founder of A Clean Bee, a blog focused on ways to live a cleaner life, naturally. She’s passionate about creating and maintaining a clean home, mind, and body, and shares easy tips and tutorials on how you can do the same. She’s also a new mom to her son Ford (stalk her on Instagram @acleanbee to see the cutest pictures of him), and lives in San Diego with her husband Tristan. I had the pleasure of working with both her and her husband at our first job out of college in NYC. Shout out to S&P Capital IQ for connecting friends and creating families.
1. What values and principles do you live by?
There’s only one principle I consistently go back to - The Golden Rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. I’m not always good at this, even though it’s something I always strive to do.
It’s not always easy and I’m definitely not perfect, but every scenario ends better when I really put effort to participate with a mindset of treating others the way I want to be treated.
2. What’s one area in your life you’re actively working on or looking to improve?
One area I’m actively working on is thoughtfulness.
According to the book, The Five Love Languages, there are five ways in which people express and receive love: gifts, acts of service, words of affirmation, touch, and quality time. My love language is ‘words of affirmation’. I feel loved and considered when others express their appreciation for me verbally or in written form. Because of this, I am also best at expressing my appreciation of others in the same way (“I’m proud of you” or “I love you” are sentiments that come naturally off my tongue when I am feeling them).
What I need to remember is that not everyone feels loved or cared for in the same ways that I do. Much like I don’t feel particularly “loved” when I receive physical gifts (sometimes I actually feel more burdened than loved!), I need to remember that others don’t always feel loved simply because I expressed my love for them verbally.
I need to get better at considering the love languages of the other people in my life when I’m trying to do something kind or thoughtful for them. Remembering to bring flowers for my colleague who loves gifts on her birthday, or bringing soup to a sick friend’s house who appreciates acts of service are examples of the ways in which I can and should be more thoughtful - even if it doesn’t always come naturally to me.
3. What's one new positive habit you've started that has made a big impact on your life?
The single most impactful habit that I have consistently practiced during the entirety of my adult life is gratitude. I will proudly tell people that “I don’t have many bad days” because it’s true! That isn’t necessarily because my life is any more awesome than the next person’s, I truly believe that it’s because I have become very good at keeping things in perspective.
When I feel myself getting frustrated at work, my mind is trained to immediately think, “I am thankful that I have a job that enables me to afford a comfortable home in a safe neighborhood with my husband and baby.”
When I am frustrated by my constant state of sleep deprivation… immediately I remind myself that I am grateful to have a healthy son and I am grateful that my body is able to nurse him back to sleep when he wakes up at night. I am genuinely grateful for those special one on one moments together, regardless of when they occur.
In my early twenties I had to be very intentional when training my mind to do this but now it is second nature! Easily my favorite habit.
4. What is your biggest challenge when trying to be the best version of yourself, and what has helped you overcome it?
A big one for me is patience. Like many other “Millennials,” I am not immune to the desire for instant gratification. For me, this mostly manifests in my desire to achieve personal goals as quickly as possible.
This can be challenging for a couple reasons. First, by setting such high expectations for myself I often set myself up for failure and disappointment. It can also be damaging because it adds a lot of unnecessary stress to my life. All of the above is now compounded by having a baby to care for, which is of course extremely rewarding (and I am beyond grateful!), but also limits my personal productivity.
One practice that does help is taking time to reflect on whatever progress I have made. Journaling is my favorite way to force myself to reflect.
5. What products or resources do you recommend that have helped you get to this point?
Therapy is easily one of the greatest investments that my husband and I have made together. One thing that I was very intentional about when I was pregnant was developing trust and building a relationship with a couples counselor.
My relationship with my husband is the number one priority in my life (and vice versa). Because of this, our relationship has always been very solid - we never fight (sounds ridiculous, but it’s true) but with our first baby on the way, I wanted to make sure we had a resource to go to in case we needed extra support. A new baby would inevitably mean less sleep, less “us” time, and more stress. Basically a recipe for testing any relationship - no matter how solid!
We found our therapist through a friend’s recommendation, and were lucky that we connected with her from the beginning. If we hadn’t, we were prepared to try someone new every month until we found someone who resonated with us.
I’m so happy we invested the time and money into finding someone while I was pregnant. After Ford was born, my husband and I were able to use therapy as a safe place to discuss our insecurities and challenges as new parents and learn how to set healthy and loving boundaries with extended family members. It sounds cheesy, but a bonus is that I seriously fall more in love with my husband after each session - I am so grateful to have a partner who is willing to be vulnerable in order to improve himself and our relationship!
I think for many people, the biggest roadblock to starting therapy is finding someone they can relate to and connect with. My advice is to be patient and meet with as many therapists as you need to until you find someone that works for you.