Greetings, fellow cyberspace citizens! Perhaps you have noticed that I haven't been quite so responsive or around so much lately. This is due to many things such as working twice a week, babysitting extra kids a lot, and other things. One of the reasons, though, is directly related to my new obsession. Allow me to elaborate. And yes, it gets long, but please humor me and at least read the headings.
About a month ago, I hosted a Pampered Chef party. The morning of said party, I realized with horror that I was going to have guests--including a near-stranger-- in my kitchen! I decided it was really time to dig into my kitchen and clean it out. As I cleared the counters, I was horrified and embarrassed as I really opened my eyes to what was there. Some things had no business being there, really, and lots of those had been there way too long. I tidied the clutter, I scrubbed the backsplash walls and stove, and generally spruced it up. When the kitchen was shining, I was so proud of myself. I was more than happy to welcome people into my kitchen.
Only two guests came: one of my best friends and my mom. (I got lots of outside orders, though, thanks!) The party was totally worth it for my clean kitchen.
The next day, I had dirty dishes in my sparkling kitchen. I just couldn't let them spoil the effect, so quick as a wink, I stuck them in the dishwasher. And guess what? The kitchen was still clean! When we ran the dishwasher, I emptied it quickly so we could refill it instead of letting them soak forever. The kitchen was still clean! It made me so happy that I put a chart on the wall to track "Days of a Spotless Kitchen."
They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit. That was a month ago. As I said, this obsession has taken me away from my computer more, but it's not because I'm spending more time doing dishes. I'm spending more time enjoying other leisure pursuits that I used to neglect because my computer was the best place to spend time where I could close my eyes to the messes that surrounded me.
Now I want to share with you a few things I have learned this month. First of all, I used to wait for the Dish Fairy to come do my dishes. Logically, I knew this wouldn't be the case, but I waited for her just the same. She didn't ever come. By cleaning all the time, though, I have learned that while there is no Dish Fairy, the same cannot be said of her nemesis, the Dish Demon. He comes all the time when dishes are left out. He dries the food on and makes the job harder than it was in the first place. I am a big believer in the Dish Demon, and I really want to avoid giving him opportunities to visit again.
Second, I feel like I spend less time doing dishes. I can't actually say for certain whether I spend more time doing dishes now than I did before, but I can say, that it's nice to have it broken up into several small sessions instead of one mega-session. I do have to do less hand-washing because I know exactly when the dishwasher is going to be full instead of guessing how many of the dishes in the sink will fit.
Third, there is more time for baking!!! This is one of the reasons I can't gauge time. Since my kitchen is always clean, I can actually make goodies more often. When I used to get the urge to bake, I'd walk into my messy kitchen, and one of three things would ensue. Sometimes I'd bake in it anyway, more often I would have to clean it first, which meant I lost my window of opportunity, or I would just walk away and give up. Anyway, this in turn generates more dishes, but instead of walking away, I drop them into a sink of soapy water as I go and wash while stuff bakes. Goodies and clean kitchen. Win-win!
Fourth, the bar and table are clean enough that I don't panic if kids set down their homework. And I actually have work space on the bar instead of having that pile at the end growing, growing...
Fifth, I am so much happier. This has really been a blessing in our home, especially with me working two afternoons a week. I used to feed all the kids lunch and run around getting them ready for the switch to the babysitter/home. (I swap with the parents of the kids I watch in the morning.) I'd think I was in too much of a hurry to clean the kitchen. So we'd all come home about 5:30 to a messy kitchen and still have to make dinner. Hello, take-out! That gets expensive. I cannot describe how nice it is to come home from ANYWHERE and have a clean kitchen. With this priority shift, we have been late a couple of times. This is unusual, because punctuality is very important in our family. It is taking time to learn how to clean the kitchen and still be on time, but it is worth learning!
Sixth, I get more help! Even 3-year-old Buster is getting in the habit of putting his dish in the dishwasher every time. It was confusing before. "Are the dishes in the dishwasher clean?" someone would ask. They never knew if they should put their dish in the sink or the dishwasher. I wasn't consistent at asking for help because I wanted to procrastinate cleaning, too. It's a lot more effective to pull your kid back after 3-5 minutes down from the table to put away that pesky dish than it is to ask them 2 hours later--or during their nap.
So if you aren't one of the people who has already learned all this, I suggest you try it. Am I always so prompt? I'm as prompt as I can be. Sometimes it's upstaged by a stinky diaper or a fight, but I really don't sit down to relax anymore until my kitchen is shining. And I love it!