Welcome to the first room in our series, the Kitchen. Let’s start here, as this is both the heart of the home and where much work of the mother occurs. Before we dive into cleaning, simplifying, and making our kitchen beautiful, it would make sense to think about what we need our kitchens to be. If we think of our rooms as servants to the people who use them, how can your kitchen better serve your family?
Think through the annoying spots. That counter that is just NEVER clear, that drawer that doesn’t even open all the way and you have no idea what is back there, the cabinet where all the storage containers are in a jumble or the pots are jammed in… You all know what your least favorite spots are. Write them down. If you use one, this would be a great page in your bullet journal. Write down all the things that make your kitchen inefficient or unpleasant right now. Some of these we can work on this month and it will be so nice to look at this list after the problems are solved!
Related to this is also the idea of where do your processes have a bottleneck? Is one part of the kitchen where people are bumping into one another as they cook while no one ever seems to be in another spot? Maybe some rearranging is in order. We’ll discuss work zones later in the series, but it might be a good time to start thinking about yours and how you can arrange the things in your kitchen to accommodate the people who use them. In my home, I’d like my kids to unload the dishwasher with less help from me, but that means it would be nice if all the bowls and glassware weren’t on shelves they cannot reach. Perhaps moving the coffee maker and mugs away from the main cooking area to prevent morning traffic jams would help you, or creating a space where kids can help prep veggies without being too close to a hot oven is your need. Write down all your thoughts and possible solutions. Brainstorm here for a while because sometimes a very small change can have a big impact.
When the cooking is through, is it easy to clean? Do you have a system for getting the dishes cleaned quickly after each meal and the counter cleared as well? Is the floor swept and the table wiped so that if a guest were to drop in, you could bring them gladly into your kitchen for a cup of tea or coffee? Do you have a schedule for cleaning out those things that are not everyday tasks – the oven, the microwave, the refrigerator? Cutting time off of your cleaning means you can use it elsewhere so we’ll focus on this aspect of the kitchen too. Until then, write down a list of things that don’t get done as often as you like, and another list of all the people in the home who are able to do those tasks. Caring for the home is a family affair, not yours alone.
Switching gears, what do you love about your kitchen? Maybe you appreciate the ample cabinet space, or you love an apron that was passed down from your grandmother. Big or small, make a list of things that are great about your space. Good light? Charming woodwork? A lovely piece of art hanging on the wall? We’ll figure out a way to highlight these later and hopefully make the list even longer.
Lastly, I like to remember that when we make our space the best it can be, then it is up to us to improve our attitudes toward the space as well. I like to think of the fact that there are women who blog daily recipes and write cookbooks out of tiny kitchens. Ma Ingalls had no cabinets or refrigerator and she raised five children and cooked delicious meals. You need not live in or pine for some imaginary dream kitchen when the one you have now is where your life is being lived day by day. Amazing meals happen in awkward spaces and amazing memories are made in humble kitchens. Celebrate the space you have now, and let’s make it as pleasant as possible.