Today I scheduled myself to blog about keeping my kitchen clean. I wanted this day to find me with a clean kitchen, but life has been crazy and things are not as I’d hoped.
Growing up, my mom always kept the kitchen very clean, even though she had a family of six to feed. I remember her wanting us kids to help with dishes after dinner, before we watched a movie or moved on with our evening. Back then, I wondered what the big deal was – why not relax and watch that movie that’s already on? I found out later just how challenging it is to keep a tidy kitchen, and that daily upkeep is a big deal.
I have had so many hours-long dish-washing marathons that I literally want to hyperventilate when I see dirty dishes crowding the sink and counters. The hours of my life cleaning the kitchen start passing before my eyes.
The sad thing? I used to think if I weren’t working a job, I could keep the kitchen clean. Guess what I found out? Not so much! When I quite my job, I found that being home more means MORE DISHES. And bad habits don’t magically change just because you have more flexibility in your schedule. (Who knew?)
An all-time low was hit when I had the (not-so-brilliant) idea to use a plastic butter knife to stir my potatoes (in lieu of a clean, more appropriate utensil). I accidentally melted the knife into the pan.
(Note: if this every happens to you, which is not likely, but just in case: put a little olive oil in the pan and warm it up. Take a rubber spatula and scrape off the melted knife part. It works like a dream!) I’m totally joking – you will NOT need this tip! Today’s blog is all about helping you feel better about your housekeeping skills 🙂 Is it working yet?)
My kitchen keeping is an effort in progress. I know that letting dishes pile up compounds the mess. Dishes not rinsed right away become harder and harder to clean as time goes by. A dirty kitchen begets bad habits: If clean dishes in the dishwasher don’t get emptied, or the dishwasher is full, dirty dishes go on the counter. If my preferred utensil is dirty, I’ll dirty more dishes by getting out a new new dish that may or may not be appropriate for the task (like a hot pink plastic butter knife for stirring potatoes, or using a very large fry pan to make two eggs.)
Daily maintenance using a solid routine is key. Based on my loonnngg experience with dishes, here is my strategy for keeping the kitchen clean:
- Run the dishwasher every night, and empty it every morning.
- Keep dishes picked up throughout the day so there is less mess to clean-up at night.
- Have a backup plan if I’m too tired to clean the kitchen after dinner, or have to run out the door. (Get up early to run the dishwasher).
- Ask family members to help with cleanup
- Rinse dishes right after we use them
- Rinse my coffee mug instead of getting out another one for my next cup of coffee.
- Have a designated water glass for the day for each family member.
- Avoid the pile-up: Don’t let a day go by where the kitchen isn’t entirely picked up and clean during at least one point in the day.
It’s painfully obvious that keeping a clean(er) kitchen is a big part of my goal in making our home more of a haven. My husband is so good about helping with meals, I want him to have a clean workspace and clean tools organized and ready. I need the same thing. We are more likely to grab something quick rather than cook if the kitchen is a mess.
If the kitchen is a mess, I feel like I’m a mess too. The house doesn’t feel in control. I feel like the kitchen should be cleaned before I do anything else. And if the kitchen clutter is overwhelming, it leads to me procrastinating.
On the flipside, a clean kitchen for me is a launching pad to getting other things done.
I really believe that the kitchen is the soul of the home – it’s the first place guests want to gather, it’s the place where we probably spend most of our waking hours in our home, have most of our conversations, make good food for our family, make lunches for the next day, and prep meals for friends or extended family members. These reasons are my “why” for getting the kitchen work done.
I will check back at the end of this month and let you know how my kitchen cleaning strategy goes!
My mantra lately has been “There is no peace without elbow grease.” Here’s to a little elbow grease and a whole lot of peace – in my kitchen.