Saturday, 7 March 2009

Keeping the kitchen tidy

I have a very small kitchen. It's new, but it is very tiny. I found it difficult to keep it tidy for a very long time, until I recently de-cluttered it and created a cleaning up system.

When I was single I lived in the same place, and it was easy then. I ate toast for dinner and had cooked breakasts in the morning before work. What I essentially did was tidy up once a day and it was easy. It was just me, and I wasn't very messy. I didn't have much stuff.

What makes it harder for me to keep the area tidy now, especially since I have a husband who is oblivious to his constant creation of mess and a baby who is forever going through my drawers, is that the kitchen is just inside the front door. It's the first room of the house. We live in the back of an actual house and our front (and only) door is at the side of the main house. This means that when my husband comes home from work he dumps his dusty work bag beside the refrigerator or in the doorway to the loungeroom. Ok, it is a small house, but it;s not so small that we can't put things away. We actually have an enormous bedroom straight off the kitchen which has more than enough space for his bits and pieces of an afternoon.

So anyway, back to the kitchen, the task at hand.

I cleaned up my kitchen a few weeks ago by doing the following:
-I got down on my hands and knees and emptied cupboard after cupboard until they were de-cluttered. I threw all the junk out. I organised where the saucepans should go, where the cleaning products fit under the tiny sink, and I threw away boxes of teabags I haven't touched for 2 years.
-Then I took all the clutter off the benches. After a while some things had just stayed on the countertops when they could have been put away. For example, I use my toaster now about once every 3-4 months, I'm just not eating much toast at the moment, so I put it in the corner cupboard next to the sink where it's no longer in the way. I kept my kettle where it was and now I have much more room to chop vegetables without the annoying toaster and the sugar container that I've since moved in with the teas and coffee I'm currently fond of.

On the other side of my oven I had a nice lot of bench, but it was constantly cluttered with muck. I had a tray I used for fruit but it just kept piling up with receipts and there was never much fruit around there anyway.
-What I do now is that I makes sure any important receipts, for returnables or clothes, go straight into my receipt drawer in my desk. And I have taken all the bits and pieces of clutter away, either put them in the bin or put them in pretty display bowls in my loungeroom if they were cute enough.

And a big problem I used to have was with washing up clutter. With my husband and baby girl here I just never got into a good routine before.
Now, I wash up after breakfast, and each other meal throughout the day, and as Flylady advises I make sure that my sink is sparkling before I go to bed. This way I wake up to a clean kitchen and I try harder then not to let it degenerate over the course of the day. I wash up regularly, I put the dry things away when they're dry, and the whole place just feels cleaner. I've found a home for everything and, most importantly of all for me, my benches are clear so that I can use the space better when I need to prepare dinner.

So, in summary;
-Keep your benches clear from clutter. Don't allow it to build up.
-Find homes for all your stuff. If you don't have room in your cupboards, go through and chuck out what you haven't used in a while. You'll definitely be able to clear up some space.
-Find a system that works for you, depending on your schedule. I'm home all day but if you can't wash up after breakfast due to shortness of time, at least stack the rinsed dishes neatly until you do get to them.

And try to sweep out your kitchen once a day if you can. The floor won't look half as bad when the crumbs and rice have been cleared.

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