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Welcome back!!  Yesterday we went over some ideas for planning an organizational overhaul.  Today, let’s talk about the busiest room in the house…the kitchen!  While mine is small and plain, it still happens to be my favorite room.  It is where I prepare the food that nourishes my family, and it seems to hold a bit of “magic”.  All I have to do is open a jar of flour and the kids are all over me like flies on honey!  I like to think of it as my secret Mom powers, but the reality is I have 5 hungry boys…and they’ve trained their sisters to eat like them!

There are a few things to keep in mind when setting up or reorganizing a kitchen.

  • Efficiency:  Place like things together.  I keep my potholders in a drawer right next to my stove and my dishcloths by the sink.  This seems like a no-brainer, but I’ve been in many kitchens where so many steps were wasted trying to round up needed items.
  • Little helpers:  If you have children, particularly those who are young {and short}, keep them in mind as you set things up.  For years, I kept our cups and dishes in a lower cupboard to enable them to be more self-sufficient when helping in the kitchen.  Putting away clean dishes or setting the table is so much easier and rewarding for them when they can do it on their own.
  • Reduce clutter:  Inventory your kitchen items and determine which are truly keepers.  If you have 25 water bottles but only use 2 of them, weed them out.  We now only keep one cocoa mug for each family member which has helped me reclaim almost an entire cupboard!
  • Keep counters clean:  I only keep out that which is used pretty much every day.  For me that includes a covered cake plate, which gets refilled with muffins or some other treat a couple times a week {and only lasts about an hour!}; a toaster; a knife block; a trifle bowl that doubles as a fruit holder; containers by the stove that hold table salt, kosher salt, and raw sugar; and cutting boards.  This will look different for each person, but those are the items that I use on a near daily basis.  My vitamix, crockpot, etc. are stored until needed.
  • Think outside the box:  I’m not a big fan of the microwave, and rarely use ours.  In order to save counter space, we’ve placed it carefully on top of our refrigerator.  Our dishes and silverware are kept on shelves in a corner of the dining room, which not only frees up cupboards space but also makes them handy for setting the table.  After years of battling the spices in the cupboards, I moved them to drawers next to the stove.  This simple change has saved me so much time and frustration!
  • Use baskets:  I love baskets and somehow managed to collect far too many!  They just sat around collecting dust until I realized I could put them to work.  I use them to hold dry beans, potatoes and onions, baggies and tin foil and cleaning supplies.  It keeps things orderly, but also makes the cupboards restful to look upon.

Here is a 5 minute video tour of my kitchen.  I apologize in advance for the poor recording…I was using my son’s tiny video recorder with no zoom.  And I use the word “basic” a few too many times. 🙂

Once your kitchen is set-up in a way that works best for you, you’ll naturally want a plan to keep it that way.   Here are a few things I do to maintain order:

  • Schedule a kitchen day(s):   Three times a week I focus on the kitchen.  One of those days I clean the fridge, on another I straighten cupboards, and on the final one I wipe down appliances and walls.  This way nothing ever gets too out of hand and I never have to spend more than 30 minutes on it.
  • Enlist help:  Assign chores and make sure everybody knows what is expected of them.  If your 4 year old is unloading the dishwasher, you’ll want to be certain she isn’t randomly assigning homes to your dishes.  Check behind them, specifically when they’re first learning or after you have made changes in the set-up of your space.
  • Clean your messes:  After a long baking day, the temptation is strong to let some things slide.  But cleaning a mess immediately and getting the kitchen back to it’s proper condition leaves it ready for the next meal prep.  There is nothing more draining (okay, I’m sure there is, but anyway…) than walking into a messy kitchen to start supper.  You may not always feel like doing up the dishes or putting things back where they go, but choosing to do so will strengthen your resolve to keep up with your plan.
  • Keep things light:  I love being in the kitchen and my family loves to join me there.  They crowd around the counter to chat and observe.  We’ve spent many hours getting to know each other while I’ve been busy preparing food for them.  They like to get involved and I often have more help than I know what to do with.  My husband rolls up his sleeves and works right beside me, not because I ask him to, but because he enjoys being there.  Keep the kitchen pleasant and cheerful and you won’t have to beg for the help to keep things running smoothly!

Join me here tomorrow and we’ll talk about the Family Room.  And don’t forget to check out what the 20 other bloggers participating in this series have to say on their own subjects!  Click below to see a list of topics!

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