I don’t know about you, but I find it impossible to cook and prepare food in a messy kitchen — well if I'm being honest, I can't function in a messy kitchen! With two kids running underfoot it’s not always easy to have a spotless kitchen. But I believe there are small things you can do to help keep things tidy when you’re short on time or don’t want to spend a lot of time cleaning each evening. Check out these six tips and tricks to help your kitchen flow and stay tidy.
If you’re like me, you have a baby, toddler or preschooler who still needs a bib to catch the mess at meal times. Bibs come in all shapes, sizes and material most of which take up precious drawer space in your kitchen.
Tip: Attach a large plastic hook to the back of the booster seat or high chair. After you’re wiped or washed the bib hang on the hook. You’ll always have it handy and ready at meal times.
Over the past several years I've learned that baby wipes aren't just for wiping your baby's bottom during diaper changes — there are many uses for baby wipes all around your house. Aside from the versatility, baby wipes are safe for kids to use and won't irritate their skin like a harsh chemical-laden disinfecting wipe. You'll save money stocking up on baby wipes versus a disinfecting wipe while achieving the same job in the kitchen.
Tip: Keep a package of baby wipes in your kitchen to use to wipe kids' faces and hands after meals, wipe up the small mess under the chairs or on the table. I also use a baby wipe to give the high chair a quick wipe down after each meal. As your baby grows into a preschooler and big kid you'll find they can wipe up their own messes, helping keep their area clean and your kitchen tidy.
I was gifted with the Cadillac of hand vacuums and quickly realized its value in my kitchen. My children are messy eaters, much to my dismay. We practice appropriate table manners and utensil holding, but somehow the food and crumbs end up everywhere after a meal. It's not always feasible to drag out the big vacuum to give the kitchen a thorough vacuuming so the hand vacuum is the next best thing.
Tip: Keep the hand vacuum close by for quick and easy clean up. If you have an older child or preschooler, teach them how to use it to help save time and include them in the cleaning. My daughter loves to use the hand vacuum and it saves me time while I clean up the baby's mess. I even use the hand vacuum on the high chair to get all those little crumbs that seem near impossible to wipe up.
It goes without saying that once you have a mobile child all your unsafe cabinets and drawers get child safety locks to prevent an unfortunate accident. I quickly learned which safety locks worked best to keep my very strong toddler out of the “chemical cabinet”. I also learned that curiosity is my toddlers middle name. He loved to explore the other cabinets in the kitchen including the spices, pots/pans and glass baking ware cabinets. After cleaning up salt and pepper off my floor for what seemed like days I realized that I may need to toddler proof my kitchen as well; not because all the cabinets are harmful but there isn't time to clean the massive messes a small toddler can make.
Tip: Put safety locks on cabinets that you don't want your kids to have easy access to. For example I lock the spices, pots/pans and glass baking ware. Why, you ask? I didn't want a heavy pot or glass baking dish to fall on tiny toes or worse, break and injure a small child. The spices when found by children can make a massive mess in no time. To save time cleaning and keeping a tidy kitchen I find it best to avoid the problem all together.
When we moved into our house I thought I found the best system for organizing the kitchen . However, over the past several months I realized I needed to make some changes. I moved items around, purged what didn't get used and found new homes for all the kitchen items. This drove my husband crazy because as soon as he'd remember where something went, I'd move it. While I am home the majority of the day and take care of the majority of the household chores, I still have quite a bit of help from my husband and other family members. I certainly don't expect everyone who enters my kitchen to know where everything is kept and I'm not always around to answer the question, “Where does (fill in kitchen item) go?”
Tip: Take a few moments the next time you're unloading the dishwasher and throw a small label on the inside of your cabinets to aid in your kitchen organization. For smaller utensils, kid items and not-so-obvious kitchen trinkets label the drawers or cabinets so everything finds its way back home.
I love a clean kitchen floor and I'll admit a dirty floor can give me a twitch, but I cannot be on my hands and knees mopping my floor after every meal. And remember those messy eaters I live with? I'd be mopping my floor all. day. long. A few years ago I asked for steam mop as a Christmas gift and didn't realize its value until I had to feed my messy eaters.
Tip: Run the steam mop through your kitchen at the end of the day. The steam mop not only cleans up the sticky spots but also disinfects without using chemicals. It takes a minute to heat up and another five to mop my floor! About once a week I add a little vinegar to the water in the steam mop which leaves a fresh clean smell and an added level of disinfecting.
Photo credit: adapted from Jim Larrison | Flickr