Why hasn't my kitchen been cleaned? First Marian turned off our refrigerator Saturday last week. We discovered this delight on Sunday. Sunday afternoon was spent dumping all the spoiled food out of their little saving containers. Some of this was long overdue anyway. I've been meaning to clean out the fridge for months. Monday, I washed all the regular dishes and about half of the junk from the fridge. On Tuesday I washed the regular dishes and the other half of the junk from the fridge. So maybe everything was clean last Tuesday? It's hard to remember. On Wednesday I decided to take the plunge and tackle the fridge. I dismember shelves and drawers and cleaned every surface I reach as well as I could without getting out the toothpicks. Believe me, I had to resist the toothpicks. Good enough is good enough, right? This job took all of my post-supper cleaning time on both Wednesday and Thursday, which means I didn't wash the regular dishes on either night. On Friday, I was gone almost all day long, night too. On Saturday, I washed about 40 percent of the build-up from the past three nights. I intended to catch up on Sunday, but time change and evening plans made my day quite unproductive. On Monday, I stayed up until 1am making cookies for our parish's St. Joseph Altar. Tuesday, being exhausted from Monday, didn't work out well and I was gone all evening to put cookies in bags for church. Now it's Wednesday. Dishes are everywhere and I am hiding from them by writing this post.
But hey, my fridge in the kitchen is clean. We won't discuss the freezer side or the refrigerator in the garage or the deep freeze. We are pretending those don't exist right now.
One of the problems I have had is getting the children involved more with the daily chores. I feel like they are a mountain to climb everyday and I haven't figured out how to teach the children while I am barely hanging onto my own grasp of the situation. It always feels like it is about to spiral out of control and turn into, well, the way it looks now. How can I let them help when one false move means a carefully stacked piles comes crashing to the ground?
Anyway back to Leila's post. She has one paragraph that stuck out to me and has me puzzled:
Another thing: Figure out where you will stage things.
You can’t handle a sink full of dirty dishes and neither can a kid. You need a place where you will put away food (that’s someone else’s chore, by the way!) and stack things so that they are scraped and ready for the dishwasher or soapy basin.It is true I cannot handle a sink full of dishes. It is so overwhelming--I'm writing this post instead, remember. But how do you develop flow in a kitchen that has no room for staging?
I have found over these months that you can do one thing at a time in here. You can cook one or two dishes, but not more than that or it gets hectic. You can clean, but trying to cook at the same time is difficult. Let's just say having the dish backlog along with regular meals plus the cookie baking just about sent me over the edge. Lots of ill-tempered phrases were uttered. Lots of inefficiency from making trips all over the kitchen just trying to find a blasted clear spot to set things down.
How do you stage without a staging area? We have one small countertop where the dirty dishes are stacked. We have one smallish countertop where the drying rack is kept. An aside: I don't understand how people go without drying racks or even take them out and put them away fourteen times a day. Something is always wet here and wouldn't it take an eon and a half to dry everything by hand everyday? Moving on: We have one countertop where most of the mixing and chopping happens. Sometimes this spills over onto the kitchen table and then setting the table to eat becomes problematic. And we have one countertop that is a staging area for the drinks/stovetop. We pour drinks here and keep all necessary stovetop items here like salt, oil, spices, spoons, whatever. Most of all that gets put away everyday, but while cooking is happening, it's out and then it gets shoved around to make room for glasses.
So then we need to eat. There is no good place to serve so we make a dozen trips back and forth to the table with individual plates or we take the pot to the table to serve. Because we are classy. After supper, we put items on the small countertop next to the sink until it is full and then what? The table isn't clear. There isn't room to stack on the other countertops with out cleaning them up first. There isn't room to put the leftover food into storage containers. There really isn't room for more than two people to be working at once.
I am at the point where I need 20 minutes to clean the kitchen before the kitchen is in a state where it can be cleaned. Good luck getting the children back after that.
So how do I approach this? Is this something that gets better with experience or when, finally, the kitchen is totally rearranged? Or is this something I just have to live with because there is no good workaround? How do you find flow in a kitchen that makes you want to shake the house designer?