Kitchens are usually regarded as warm and welcoming spaces that bring the whole family together – but they’re also the rooms that get messy the easiest given their intense usage.
Even if you’re not cooking every day or entertaining frequently, the kitchen still seems to attract dirt, clutter and chaos much faster than any other areas of the house. Add one or more young children to the mix and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster!
The truth is that it’s difficult enough to keep a kitchen clean and tidy when you’re on your own, let alone when you’ve got kids running around the house all day. And if you also like to prepare delicious meals for your family or enjoy spending time in the kitchen and putting your culinary skills to the test, things can get even more complicated.
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One minute you’ve got a clean and perfectly organised space, and the next you’re surrounded by piles of unwashed dishes, kitchen utensils, dirty counters, toys and all sorts of other objects lying all over the place.
As busy mums we’re all too familiar with this scenario. So how can we use our kitchens to the fullest and still maintain them in a relatively clean and tidy state? The secret lies in how you deal with the mess. You may not be able to eliminate it completely, but you can certainly learn how to keep it under control.
5 ways to keep a clean & tidy kitchen with kids
1. Clean as you go
When you have a full house, multitasking is a skill that you come to develop naturally since you have to clean and pick up after your kids all day long while also doing a number of other tasks at the same time. You can also use this superpower to prevent the mess from taking hold of your kitchen.
Do a bit of cleaning and put stuff back where it belongs while the food is cooking. Put dirty dishes in the dishwasher as soon as you or your kids are finished eating and always keep a cloth or a towel on hand to clean spillages as soon as they happen – and we all know that with kids around these incidents occur quite often.
2. Set up a cleaning schedule
It’s one thing to have a little mess around the kitchen and a very different thing to have it constantly looking like a war zone. Unless you only use your kitchen sparingly, which is almost never the case when you’re raising a family, you’ll have to come to terms with the fact that there’s always going to be some disorder and messiness to deal with and that’s perfectly fine.
But you can prevent things from getting too out of hand by sticking to a kitchen cleaning schedule. Make a checklist with all the cleaning and organising tasks you need to accomplish daily, weekly and monthly, so you don’t have to do it all at once. Separating tasks into tiny bits and spreading them throughout the entire month will make it easier for you to stay on top of kitchen maintenance. This is the most effective way to avoid grease and grime build-up and deal with the general jumble, while also helping you extend the life of your cabinets, appliances and fittings which occupy the most space in a kitchen.
3. Get everyone involved
The kitchen is a communal space that everyone uses for different purposes. And since all family members contribute to the mess and clutter, they should also help with cleaning and organising. So, you don’t have to do everything on your own and wear yourself out cleaning and tidying up after everyone.
Instead, you can use this as an opportunity to teach your kids responsibility and the value of cleaning up after themselves. Start by listing different kitchen cleaning tasks and then delegate each member chores that are appropriate for their age, while also making sure you keep an eye on them when performing their duties. Getting the whole family involved is going to make the kitchen cleaning routine less daunting and even turn it into a fun experience.
4. Create extra storage space
One of the reasons kitchens get so messy is insufficient or inadequate storage. When you have too many things and not enough room to store them, there are only two things you can do: either get rid of some of the stuff you own, which isn’t a bad idea considering you probably don’t need all of it anyway, or find ways to get more kitchen space. Or both.
Consider replacing your kitchen furniture with one that is more practical and has a larger storage capacity. These days, you can find cheap kitchen units in a wide range of colours and styles that also provide ample storage space. But you can also create more room for storage in your existing cabinets by integrating easy-access storage solutions. That way, you’ll be able to put all your kitchen utensils and equipment away when you’re done using them and not have them piled on top of each other on your countertops.
5. Organise your kitchen into zones
A lot of things happen in the kitchen, apart from cooking and eating, when you have a busy household. The kids might use the kitchen as a playground or a space where they can do their homework. When you have friends over, the kitchen turns into an entertainment venue; and when you want to work from home, it transforms into an improvised office.
It’s understandable that using one room in so many ways can lead to clutter and disorder. But you can keep the chaos in check by separating kitchen space into different zones. For example, you can have a zone for food prep and cooking, one for food storage, one for cleaning and one for entertaining.
You have to accept the fact that the only way to maintain a perfectly clean and organised kitchen as a busy mum is to never let anyone use it, which is not a realistic scenario. So, in real life, you can only do your best to keep your kitchen neat and safe and go easy on yourself when things are not perfect if you don’t want to lose your sanity.
This is a collaborative post.