Most of this is a repost from last January, 2013. However, since I need to make room for all my new Pampered Chef goodies, I need to take stock of my kitchen and get rid of some things that are simply taking up space. Also, I am participating in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University at our church, and need to take stock of what’s in my cabinets and pantry as far as food goes. Groceries being one of the items I spend the most money on, I need to be sure I’m not buying things I already have. (For example, I have discovered that I have about 20 boxes of pasta. I don’t know why, but I do. I love pasta, but I don’t want to – or shouldn’t – eat it every day. So I will ignore the fact that Publix has it buy one/get one free this week and NOT add to that stockpile.)
So here is the post from last year that addressed the kitchen. If you’ve seen it before, pretend you haven’t. Okay? Basically, I’m preaching to myself with this one – just wanted to put that out there so you know. ~ Lynne
“Housework is what a woman does that nobody notices until she hasn’t done it.” ~ Evan Esar
Housework. Chores. Cleaning. I doubt there are many of you who see any of those words and jump for joy. If you do, I’m sure there is a meeting you can attend somewhere. I like my house to be neat and tidy. If I could twitch my nose or click my heels together and have that happen, I’d be totally cool with that. If a cleaning fairy came during the night so that I woke up every morning to a clean house – one without dust, dirty dishes, or laundry – I would not mind one bit.
Alas, I have never been visited by the cleaning fairy nor do I have magical heel-clicking abilities. So the “neat and tidy” chores generally fall to me. Now, my house is not spotless by any means. But I like to keep it pretty clean. If you called me and said you were on your way over for a visit, all I want to have to do is get the coffee pot going. I don’t want to have to fling things into the closet (which would inevitably fall on my head at some future point), close doors, or force you to visit on the front porch in freezing weather because I’m embarrassed for you to come inside.
Some of you may feel that way right now. If I knocked on your door, would you feign illness? Tell me you were under quarantine and no one could come in? Would you ignore the doorbell or knock and just pretend you weren’t home? If that’s you, well, then I’m talking to you, sister!
I’m going to use the kitchen as an example, but the “rules” will apply to all the rooms in your house. And like anything else, you’ll take it a little at a time. Kitchens kind of, sort of need to be usable. And clean. And preferably sanitary. Just saying. And they are the heart of the home…
NOTE: BEFORE ANY CLEANING PROJECT, GET BOXES OR BINS AND LABEL THEM “DONATE” AND/OR “YARD SALE.” You might also want a basket to put things in that go somewhere else in the house so you don’t have to stop and take them there in the midst of your cleaning frenzy.
Let’s say that Sally’s kitchen is a mess. She has dishes piled in the sink. Her fridge hasn’t been cleaned out since October. There are science experiments going on in there. Scary stuff. She believes she has a black counter top, but she can’t be sure. The tabletop looks like something exploded on it – papers everywhere, groceries that have no where to go – and the top of it isn’t visible.
I’m going to go help Sally, but before I’ll help, she has to take ownership of her mess (even if she didn’t make all of it) and she has to make a list of what has to get done to bring order from the chaos. She – not me. So Sally takes my sage advice and makes her list. It looks something like this.
1. Clean out fridge.
2. Run dishwasher or wash dishes until the sink is clear.
3. Clear off tabletop.
4. Uncover kitchen counters.
5. Clean out/organize cabinets and pantry.
(If your choose the kitchen as your challenge project for the week, I’ve listed where each day’s work will fall. If it’s a complete mess, each day may take longer than 15 minutes. Just work until the task you start is finished. If you don’t have time for that, set a timer for 15-30 minutes and work like mad. When it goes off, stop and go about your business. It will just be your challenge project for more than one week. That is perfectly fine.)
So, off I go to Sally’s house and she begrudgingly lets me in. We go to the kitchen. I do NOT gasp. I simply say, “Show me the list. Let’s get to it.” While the fridge is first on her list because it scares her the most, it won’t be the first thing we do. We will start with the dishes. We will load the dishwasher and start a load of dishes, then work on other things until it is finished. When the dishwasher is done, we’ll stop, empty it (and put the stuff AWAY), refill, restart, and continue with your other tasks outside the kitchen. Your laundry, for example. If you don’t have a dishwasher, stack the dishes on the counter (it’s a mess anyway), and wash, dry and put away until you’re done. Whew! But wow! How much better already. (If you have a sink FULL of dishes and they are spilling on to other surfaces, fill the dishwasher and run it. In the meantime, wash the rest by hand, drying and putting away as you go. Then….all the dishes will be out of the way! (If you chose the kitchen as your challenge, this will be day #1.)
Then we will move on to the tabletop because we’ll need a place to sit things while we work in various areas of the kitchen. So the table top needs to be visible. We will sort, toss, shred, put away…whatever needs to be done to whatever has made its way to the table. Important papers (little Susie’s permission slip for her field trip…we just found that!) will go into a folder, basket or box labeled “Immediate Action Required.” Mail and other papers that need to be perused and sorted go into a separate basket, box, folder, or container of some sort; when the cleaning is done, we will go back and take care of the paper stuff. Just get the really important ones separated from the not so important ones. Put groceries away. Things that don’t belong in the kitchen go at least as far as the room into which they do go. We aren’t conquering the world here, just the kitchen. (This is day #2 of the challenge.)
When the table top is cleared – and this may sound counterproductive – we take all the stuff off the counter and put it on the table, sorting as we go. The coffee pot, the toaster, MORE papers (put them in the appropriate files/boxes, etc.). Hey! Sally’s counter top is brown, not black. Just thought you’d like to know. We don’t put the things that belong on the counter back just yet. It’s the next “staging” area. (This is day #3 of the challenge)
Cleaning out the fridge is scary if you don’t do it regularly. Leftovers turn into…well, I don’t even know what they turn into. I just know chili isn’t supposed to have green fuzzies on it. So we work on the fridge. It’s easier if everything comes out of there. So the newly cleared counter top next to the fridge? Yep, that’s where the fridge stuff is going. We pull the trash can on over to the fridge. Anything out of date or unidentifiable gets trashed. (Recycling is very important; if you want to take the time to do that now, do so. If not, we will not judge you this one time.) Wipe down the inside of the fridge completely. Scrub out all the sticky places. How nice it looks. Now…put the stuff back in where it goes. Keeping like things together makes it easier, at least for me. Jams and jellies in one place; designated spot for leftovers; fruits and veggies in the produce bins. Whatever works for you…it is your fridge after all. Well, Sally’s fridge – but you get the picture. (Day #4 of the challenge)
Once the fridge has been cleaned out and order restored in there (no green fuzzies in sight!), will restore order to the cabinets, drawers, and pantry (if you have one). Go cabinet by cabinet, removing things that don’t belong there AND things that you don’t use. Ever. If you have three electric can openers that you got as wedding gifts – 15 years ago! – and they are still in boxes, put them in the “donate” or “yard sale” box and move along. Hey, there’s your crock pot! It’s dusty. Honey, get it out of there and put it in a place where it’s easily accessible. You’re going to use it! (I’m sending you telepathic messages about how awesome your crock pot is!) Wipe out your cabinets as you go and put the things back where they belong…glasses with glasses, plates with plates, serving dishes with serving dishes. You get the picture. Move on to the drawers. (This is day #5 of the challenge. And possibly day #6 and even #7 if you have a big kitchen.)
Note: You do not need a “junk” drawer. You made need a “miscellaneous stuff ” drawer for batteries, pens, notepads, etc. If it’s junk, don’t put it in a drawer; put it in the trash. The TRASH not the drawer!
On the final day (now that Sally has seen me every day for a week – lucky her!), clean the counter top with whatever your cleaner of choice may be. Make them shine. Return necessary appliances to the counter. The fewer things on the counter top, the cleaner your kitchen will appear. But, yes, I do believe that the coffee pot belongs there – in a place of honor. But that’s just me. Mine is on the counter underneath the cabinet that has the coffee mugs and coffee “fixings” in it. Find a cute container or jar and put frequently-used utensils (spatulas, etc.) in it next to the stove if you want. Get a pretty little potted plant and sit it next to the sink. Reward yourself with some cute new dishtowels. Even if you don’t have granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances for your kitchen to be awesome. I certainly don’t.
Now that you (and Sally) have nice, clean kitchens, sit down at your newly clean table and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. Let me know, and I’ll sit at my table and have a cup here to celebrate with you. Any time…I can drink coffee any time.
Hope your week is blessed beyond measure, and that you have a sparkling, clean kitchen when it’s over!