Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cutting down the cleaning

My Mom joked after a visit and said it seemed like I never left the kitchen. Sometimes it does feel that way. I cook/prepare every meal, fix snacks, bake treats, make sandwiches for Bry to take to work 4 days a week, and then there's the clean up after anything made in the kitchen. Any Mom can relate to the feeling of living in the kitchen. : ) 
I have been putting the kitchen cleaning off because I don't want the kids having to wait while I load the dishwasher or tidy up. I'd rather be with them and I know they appreciate that.  But later on in the evening it still needs to be done because waking to a dirty kitchen stinks! And when Bry comes home from work I like him to see a clean kitchen and clear counters. 

So the older girls and I brainstormed what would get me out of the kitchen a bit more and make cleaning the kitchen and cleaning up after meals much easier. 

To reduce cups we have been using the Klean Kanteens (color coded for each family member) for many years now. The kids each have two so one can be washed while the other is in use. We drink water so this works for us very well. Klean Kanteens are BPA free and made of Stainless Steel. Kids often have a drink of water near their beds and with the Kanteens they take it up with them at bedtime and it comes back down with them in the morning to be used again (after rinsing from Mom for the little ones and the other girls rinse their own). 
As the kids and I were talking, I remembered reading in an unschooling loop about a Mom getting her kids special plates per person and tossing all the rest. So we decided that special plates might be a good idea worth trying here too. We decided to order Fiestaware place settings for each family member. First we just did this for the kids, and it was working so great that Bry said we should get a set for each adult also. 
: ) Fiestaware is lead free! This is a set which contains a mug, bowl, salad plate and dinner plate. The kids took turns picking out the color they liked the best:
Skylar - plum
Summer - scarlet
Decklin - peacock
Ember - turquoise
Bry - cobalt
Me - marigold 
The kids were so excited when Amazon delivered their special plates. If we have something like iced tea or milk, the kids can use their lovely matching colored new mugs for this. Skylar and Summer volunteered to wash their own after each meal, as well as a younger sibling and then dry and put them away so they are ready for the next meal. 
Having the lovely plates has cut down on running the dishwasher. It used to be 3 plates per child a day (not adding in bowls for snacks). We have 4 kids, and then add in the adults also to the dish tally. So that was a lot of dishes needing washing. We used to run it twice a day. Now we run it once every other day or every three days, huge difference! 

Ways to cut down on time spent in the kitchen:
  • Menu plan, using a menu plan to know what you are making for each meal helps the kitchen run smoother and lets you plan anything that needs defrosting, or dough needing rising, etc. 
  • Special plates that one person uses for each meal. Choose lead free for health reasons. 
  • Let each person pick a special cup or for water get a water bottle (BPA free) or Kleen Kanteen in their color choice. 
  • Serve from the stove (verses using serving pieces placed on the table).
  • Ask for all hands to help in some way cleaning up after a meal. 
  • Have a mini dustpan for dusting the table crumbs into. 
  • Have a dog who will happily eat any crumbs that fall out of the dustpan. : )
  • Clean as you go, instead of saving it for after the meal. While food is cooking, wash anything you are done with or load it into the dishwasher.