Monday, September 2, 2013

Cleaning the Heart of the Home - Part 2, The Kitchen

Right now, I am considering the physical heart of my home to be the kitchen.   Since this is where three meals a day are prepared, it is easier and more enjoyable to do so in a clean, well-organized kitchen, it can set the pace for other things that happen in the home.  When my kitchen has clear, clean counters, I am more inclined to cook a fresh, healthy meal rather than put a frozen, store-bought meal in the microwave.  And those days that I am too fatigued to do anything other than put that meal in the microwave oven, there is very little clean-up to do, so it is a win-win situation.

Cleaning Hints for Today: The Kitchen 

Set your timer for 15 minutes (Do not go over 15 minutes, Rest if needed or work on another task.  I usually use this as a time to do something sitting or rest, depending on how I feel that day.):

  1. Start with putting things away on your counters.  Work on one area or counter at a time (cans to pantry, dirty dishes to sink or dishwasher, trash to trash can, papers and directions in a basket--until you decide where  they belong.)  Basically, you can use the 3 rule method:  throw away, put away, give away.
  2. Wipe off your counters and the splash board, as well as wiping under the small appliances, and wipe off the small appliances too.  Follow the directions for your counter surface.  My counter surface is old and light-colored, so I used bleach to get stains.  Bar keepers friend is also a good product to use for some stains, and it does not have the odor of bleach.  
  3. If you have cleaned off one counter, you may want to go ahead and wash your dishes that have to be washed by hand.  If you have already wiped down your counter, you don't worry about setting a few dirty dishes or pots on them, so you have room to wash.  It will be easier to wipe the counter off after it has been wiped off once.  Note:  FlyLady likes to start with the sink, but I chose to start differently this time, because I had actually run out of room to comfortably prepare food.  I knew I could heat up the oven while I was cleaning the items that had been left unwashed.  Also, I wanted soapy water to wash some of the items that belong on my counters.
  4. If you deal with post-exertional fatigue, do not get too enthusiastic and overdo.  Baby steps will get the job done, if you don't keep adding clutter to the area you cleaned. 
There is another psychological factor about having a clean, organized kitchen that is well worth mentioning.  It seems to set the tone for the rest of the house.  Even when the rest of the house could use some attention, a  clean kitchen says, "I care."  Does this ring true with you?  Have you tried working on the kitchen first, before other areas in the house are cleaned and organized?

These are pictures of areas that are bothering me.  Take into account that my kitchen is no modern show kitchen.  I have had a variety of kitchens in my life, and this kitchen is an old kitchen in an old house.  Also, we no longer own a home--we rent.  So, I am not going to spend money on anything other than cosmetic changes.   However, the one thing that rings true in any kitchen is the messy factor.  I don't care whether you have the fanciest kitchen or the most modest kitchen:  no kitchen is a pleasant, productive area when cluttered.  However, even the most modest kitchen can work when cared for.

 The area on the right side of the stove does not give me much room for food preparation.  Organization is needed here.  For those of you who feel like your kitchen is hopeless, the picture to your left, which also is on the left side of the stove, was much worse than this.  However, I wasn't going back to where it was before I got to it on Sunday afternoon.  It had scattered coffee grounds and stains that I knew I could get off if I  applied myself.  I had wiped the whole counter on this side, and I had put things away, but I confess to a little staging here to give you an idea of what it looked like before.  However, I could not bring myself to dirty the counter again.  

By the way, I am planning on some kitchen reorganization, according to how I use items in my kitchen.  I will post more on this later.  I wish I could say my kitchen always looked perfect, but often fatigue gets the best of me, and I have to stop midway in cleaning.  I try to come back, but sometimes that doesn't happen until the next day.  Also, I have to admit that once I leave that area and my mind starts focusing elsewhere, it is easy to conveniently forget. 

Sometimes, it seems I have to get to the point the kitchen is really irritating before I take action.  See, I told you I am not perfect;  and, I know there are probably hundreds of books that have been written to encourage keepers of the home in this area, but I still find this challenging.  The thing is I think it helps the rest of the family become more cognizant of keeping the area neat when we can jump in and get the area organized--no matter how long it takes us.  

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It's always lovely hearing from you. xoxo, Deborah