I have been baffled with my inability to keep my kitchen clean over the last few years. I grew up with our family cleaning up after each meal. I have plenty of memories of job wheels rotating through who swept the floor, wiped the table, and put dishes in the dishwasher. I know how to clean a kitchen.
My kids take a long time to eat so after 20-30 minutes of sitting with them I usually get up and start cleaning. Loads of experts have suggested to clean the kitchen sink first. I start washing a few dishes, then run over to help with some food situation at the table. Then I realized I could start putting away some food and then wipe up a spill. I head back to wash a few more dishes while trying to reinforce you can’t leave until you are finished.
By this time the youngest needs a nap and when I return the table is still covered with dishes/food, the older kids are off playing (usually after the oldest clears her dishes – we have been working on making this a team effort after all…), and I’m ready for a nap myself. Times this by 3 meals/snacks and by the time Andrew gets home I’m trying to convince him and myself that I spent so much time cleaning the kitchen even though you can’t tell.
About a month ago I had a breakthrough: Start with the kitchen table. The second breakthrough was realizing I have three children 4 years old and younger and I’m the only one with the vision of a clean kitchen and the skills to make it happen.
This means the kids and I all have one goal. I ignore the dishes in the sink and the spills on the counter. We get to work putting all the food away, clearing the table, wiping it, and if we are really on a roll we sweep too. In a matter of minutes we have the equivalent of 6 kitchen sinks lined up totally cleaned. BIG WIN and huge confidence booster.
We basically have one room downstairs for all of our living needs, and having at least one quadrant looking good helps to spill over to other areas of the house by the end of the day. And even when it doesn’t I can at least admire the one area.