Like I mentioned yesterday, the kitchen is probably the most frequented room in our house. That fact has its good points and its bad points. We can all gather together and enjoy the fragrant aromas that are wafting out of the oven (except during Lent, when I can't bake). We can learn new things together, like how to cook and what makes a healthy meal. We can explore cookbooks together and ooh and aahh over all of the delicious looking desserts. However, I have also noticed that we can all walk through the kitchen and set down our school books, our keys and purses, our jackets, our shoes, our socks, other various items of clothing, our papers, our colored pencils, the latest novel that we are reading, our birthday cards.......So, how have I come to grips with the kitchen being a dumping ground? A friend of mine told me that she had a small bin in her kitchen for each one of her kids so that they could put their small miscellaneous items in there. Since there are nine of us, I decided to go with those medium-sized, three drawer stackable bins. This way everyone has a drawer to put a bunch of their papers or books into and it doesn't really take up that much counter space. If it doesn't fit in your bin, then it is not allowed to stay in the kitchen. The person who is assigned to straightening up the kitchen has the job of distributing all of the rest of the stuff to the correct person's room.
Another thing that I try hard not to let pile up is the mail. I make a point of dealing with it as soon as it comes in, or, at the latest, by the very next day. I file my bills in the order in which they will be coming due, I throw away any sort of junk mail immediately, and most of the time I throw away any catalogs that come in. This way I'm not tempted to buy things I probably don't need and then my counter is not cluttered with catalogs I hope to get around to looking at. If there is a catalog that I think I might need, I have another spot on a shelf in the den that I put it on.
A big morale buster is letting the dishes pile up. Nothing brings me down faster than walking into the kitchen and seeing a pile of dirty dishes staring back at me. About two years ago our dishwasher broke. At the time we didn't have the money to get a new one, so we started assigning people to dishwashing, drying and putting away duties. Do you know what I discovered? I discovered that my kitchen stays much neater now that I don't have a dishwasher. Before I used to have to wait all day before someone would remember to empty the clean dishes. That meant that the breakfast and lunch dishes would be piling up. Here is how it works now: I am in charge of washing the breakfast dishes since I would rather have everyone else finish getting ready to start school. One of the girls is then assigned as lunch and dinner dishwasher for the month. One girl is assigned to clearing the table, one is assigned to drying the dishes and another is assigned to putting them away. My son sets the table for dinner, and the final girl sweeps the floors. Of course, a set up like this only works if you have older children. If you don't, then try to enlist the help of your younger children as much as you can. Start them young and make it seem like fun and you'll raise willing helpers that can take over in a few years.
Don't you just love the outfit?