Julie Lyles Carr: Kitchen Chaos

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Kitchen Chaos


The kitchen.

Wow.

Of all the rooms in our home, the kitchen is the most used, most abused, most trafficked, the most trashed.

Ten people, all on crazy schedules, with different times of meal prep and consumption. One pesco vegetarian, one gluten-free/dairy-free, one gluten-free/dairy-free/all organic/low-fat, one six-foot-tall-plus seventeen year old who needs to eat every fourteen minutes...you get the idea.

Our kitchen is an all-night, all-day diner. Except there's no management on site for every second of that schedule.

Certainly our kitchen condition would be mostly remedied if we gathered for a quick breakfast and clean-up, ate away from the home for lunch and circled back at an appointed time for a family dinner. But that's not how it works around here. Some of the crew leave at varying times each day for college classes and work. Some won't be getting up until later because of late dance rehearsals the night before. Some of the crew is at home at a reasonable dinner time...and most aren't. And then there's the reality of homeschooling in the midst of all this...the kitchen is always open and the pantry is always sacked.

Yes, the ideal would be if everyone simply and obediently took care of their own cooking debris.

And I want a purple unicorn too.

One of the great statements I heard years ago and wish I had author credit for was an anonymous quote that went a little something like this: You can't expect what you won't inspect.

Yep.

And that's the hiccup in the Kitchen Chaos Theory.

It's tough to be constantly inspecting in a household that is always on the move, always on, always in motion. Add to that equation that Mike and I are in and out of the home for work commitments and you see the natural order of things.

Things tend toward chaos. Especially in the kitchen.

But it gets to me. It really does. It's so defeating to leave a kitchen fairly clean and wake up to a visage that looks like a frat party made pancakes in your kitchen.

So.

What to do.

I finally recruited Mike to help come up with some solutions~~and he came up with a great one.

Kitchen Days.

Everyone ten years old and up gets one.

The day they are completely responsible for the kitchen and the way it looks.

For example, 1 of 8's Kitchen Day is Monday. We tried to accommodate for heavy school and work days for individuals as best we could. But on someone's Kitchen Day, the ultimate condition of the kitchen is their responsibility.

With this caveat.

They can recruit anyone they so choose to help with the shoveling out of the kitchen on that day. So while Monday might be 1 of 8's Kitchen Day and ultimate responsibility, if she walks into said kitchen and the chaos loop is beginning to spin, she can gather any family members available and begin the recovery process.

Those who are recruited usually hate it. For those whose Kitchen Day it is, it is the caveat that makes the thing work and work well.
A stroke of genius on Mike's part, I might add.

The system isn't perfect and we have days that slip by and things come undone. But for the most part, seven of us having an assigned day and the role of inspector for that day has eased a good deal of the chaos.

And who knows?

One of these days, maybe, just maybe, we can expand the concept to things like bathrooms, living room, garage, yard.......

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