April 13, 2007
One of the most frustrating things in the life of a stay-at-home mom, part-time working mom, married woman, career woman, or homeschool mom has got to be the dirty dishes in the kitchen.
Kitchen clean-up is one of those things we do over and over and over, even on our days “off.” A SAHM friend once told me she felt like she was always washing dirty dishes. She said five or six times a day she’d be in the kitchen cleaning up. And from time to time I’ve found myself rinsing dishes and thinking how I’ll never get to “retire” because we’ll always have to eat. (As I look back, there was usually some other issue going on that was overwhelming me, but still.)
So how do we handle this most boringest of chores? For those of us whose kids are still a little too young to rinse heavy stoneware dinner plates (where was my brain when we picked those out?), is there anything we can do to get control?
Make the timer your friend.
We touched on this briefly two weeks ago with our two-minute drill. (How are you doing there, by the way?) And Elizabeth mentioned in the comments section that she sets the timer for fifteen minutes a day while her kids clean their room. She said they’ve understood it’s not a long time, and so they don’t complain.
I happen to know how old Elizabeth’s kids are, and believe me, we’re all a tad bit older than them. So if they can figure out that fifteen minutes isn’t that long, so can we!
Here’s a new routine for you — after each meal, set the timer for fifteen minutes. When it goes off, stop cleaning your kitchen.
Of course, odds are that you’ll be already done or pretty stinkin’ close.
Part of the reason my kitchen falls behind is because after eating dinner, I want to take a break. And too often that break turns into the rest of the day!
Instead, when breakfast is over, set a timer for fifteen minutes. Honestly, it probably won’t take you more than five minutes to clean up, unless you make huge breakfasts from scratch. Which wouldn’t be me. Remember, I’ve timed it, and it usually takes less than two minutes.
So woo-whoo! Breakfast dishes are gone.
Don’t forget to wipe your counter and table. That’s part of it, too. Put away any recipe books you used and make sure trash is thrown away.
Doesn’t your kitchen look gooooooood?
Do the same thing at lunch. Again, for me, fifteen minutes is probably overkill. It might take ten to twelve.
Now dinner might be a different story. That’s the big meal I cook most days. Like Thursday’s dinner. We had salmon, sun-dried tomato alfredo sauce with fettuccine, salad, and croissants. (I impressed myself, too.) That’s dishes for four, a skillet, two sauce pans, salad bowl, croissant plate, and a stone to clean. Actually not that bad — no cutting board, no prep bowls, although I did transfer the fettuccine to a serving bowl.
I set my timer and went to work. I had just finished wiping down my counter when the timer went off.
Now why is cleaning right after a meal so important?
Consider this — you’re not coming to the end of your day with breakfast dishes in the sink with food dried on them like superglue. Lunch dishes aren’t cluttering your counter, and you don’t have to wipe up crumbs just so you can make dinner on your counter and dirty it all up again. You’ve kept up with the task, and so it has become bearable.
That’s the big secret — keeping up with the task. And how do we keep up with any task?
By making it routine.
Yep, it all goes back to those
pesky precious little routines!
So make a committment for the next week to spend fifteen minutes cleaning up after each meal. And relax your night away, knowing everything in your kitchen’s under control!
- Next Friday — special guest interview. Did our wedding vows include the vacuum?
- Don’t forget — leave a comment for a chance to win Sharon Dunn’s Death of a Garage Sale Newbie or a free critique from Affordable Novel Critique Service. (In your comment, please specify if you’d like a shot at the critique.)