When my baby was first born I got into the habit of letting dishes wait while I soaked in those first magical months with my little man. After that, things got a bit busy with breastfeeding, caring for the baby, and heading around town to baby play dates. The trend in the house was to keep up with the housework during naptime. I would always leave the dishes because I didn’t want the banging to disrupt his sleep. I would do dishes while he was in the carrier but it seemed like there was always something messy in the kitchen.
The messy kitchen bothered me constantly. I couldn’t feel like my home was clean unless the kitchen was clean. I also noticed that having a cluttered and messy kitchen started having other effects on our health as we were eating out more. It also caused me stress so I dedicated myself to keeping a clean kitchen and guess what? Everyone in our house has been happier ever since!
Here are a few ways our lives have improved with a clean kitchen.
We eat healthier: Having a clean kitchen makes it way more appealing to grab a healthy snack or cook a healthy meal versus ordering out. We now have way more cooking adventures and love that the cooking tools that we want to use are always clean and available.
We’re hydrated: The kitchen is the water zone. A messy kitchen makes it hard to find and access important things like water! There were days I would leave the house and buy water because I just didn’t want to deal with it. This created more waste both financially and on the planet and I felt guilty about that. I was also dehydrated a lot of the time and that drained me of some of my energy. Now that the kitchen is clean I drink so much more water! I feel completely rejuvenated and lively. I call it my healing juice. Each day in the morning I love going into my clean kitchen and starting my day with a refreshing glass of water. It sets the tone for hydration and self-care for the whole day!
We feel better: Now that we are eating more healthy food, and are hydrated we also feel so much more energetic and healthy overall. Eating out too much was leaving us unsatisfied, and lethargic. Being dehydrated made us feel old and tired. Living in clutter made us feel stressed. Now we have an oasis of health in our home.
We are able to plan ahead: Planning healthy snacks and meal prepping has helped us so much in being prepared for busy days. Having healthy snacks and lunches ready to go help take out that feeling of extreme anxiety when you don’t have food when your toddler says “I’m hungry” and there is no grocery store in site. Now we are able to pack healthy sustainable snacks and lunches for all of us so that when hunger strikes we are prepared!
We spend time together: Cooking engages all of our senses and is so much fun to share with my husband and our toddler. We love having a clean kitchen that we can make a huge mess in cooking fun meals we find online and introducing our son to new types of food and of course savoring all of our favorite foods as well. It’s become a place of community and we are able to be in the space in joy versus resentment or stress since it has become a clean and welcoming space for us together.
So, how did we go from messy kitchen clutterbugs to clean kitchen gatherers?
Well first things first, I have to tell you that I wouldn’t change the messy-kitchen phase we went through while my child was super young. Those first few months were absolute bliss and letting something go to share more of those moments was absolutely the right thing for us at that time. But, once I noticed my own stress levels rising while scrubbing down day-old food from plates I decided to make a change. And so this is what I do now:
I try to clean the dishes as I go. This means as I’m cooking, and directly after we are done eating. Cleaning the dishes makes a big difference to the kitchen space and encourages me to quickly wipe down any counter crumbs or spills to complete the look.
I try to ensure that the kitchen is as clean as possible two times a day. The first time is before we start to cook dinner. I ensure that all the dried dishes from breakfast and lunch are put away and that any left-over clutter is cleaned up. Dinner is our most elaborate cooking session in our house so having as much counter space as possible available helps us to make fun dinners without getting stressed when trying to put the more complex ingredients together. Because we are more efficient now we can even prepare multiple dishes if we are trying to bake or plan ahead for other days in the week. After dinner is the second time I clean the kitchen. This is the deep clean where I run the dishwasher and clean the counters, sink, and floors. This ensures that we wake up to a clean kitchen and keeps us motivated to continue the cycle of health.
I try to declutter as I go along. If I notice something we are not using or that my baby no longer needs because he has outgrown it I put it in a bag to be donated or sold. This helps to reduce the number of things in the way of the things we use and will make the cleaning and cooking process easier in the long-run.
I involve my family in the process. My toddler gets to hang out while I put away dishes and clean the sink. I try to play some fun music or have a fun conversation with my husband and kiddo as they snack on some fruit for dessert or just hang out with me. They throw in a hand also helping to put away dishes, vacuum, and mop the floor. My twenty-month-old gets into it with a rag or the vacuum and does his part to clean where he can reach. We all do our parts in the kitchen and it makes it a place we all put the effort in and get benefit out. There is no longer roles in our kitchen it’s more like a workshop for adventure that we take care of and cherish.
At our house, everyone is happier when the kitchen is clean. I hope this motivates you if you need a little extra motivation. I know there are times where I need it but when I put in the extra effort our lives are so much better for it!