By Paula Constable
Organizing Tips and Thoughts for Moms
The kitchen is typically the most used space in the home and is often referred to as the hub of the home. Just think of how many times you are in your kitchen. If disorganization in the kitchen is a problem, it is probably disturbing you throughout the day. An unorganized kitchen can certainly create problems. Here are some ways and steps to get your kitchen organized and under control to help reduce your daily stress.
Take a Look Around
First, take some time to ask yourself some questions. What’s not working well in your kitchen? What areas create stress? What activities are taking place when you feel disorganized? What areas seem to be working fine? Your answers will help you identify your problem areas.
Think about the activities that take place in your kitchen. These activities can be organized into zones. These are the different areas in your kitchen in which you perform certain tasks or store items. Each zone should contain the tools, products, and space necessary to complete the activities. Some examples of zones in the kitchen are:
· Cutting and Prep
· Baking Needs
· Home Action Center
Performing certain tasks is easier if complementary zones are close by. For example, it makes sense to have your cutting and prep zone close to the cooking area. The fewer steps you have to take between complementary zones, the better.
Break It Down
Organizing a kitchen is a large project. Break it down into sections and tackle one area at a time. This helps keep you from becoming overwhelmed and burnt out before the project is complete. Organizing a kitchen is a large undertaking. Make sure you have lots of room to sort and adequate time.
Think of your counter tops as a workspace, not a storage space. Only keep there what you use on a daily basis. If you are short on counter space, store rarely used appliances in either a lower cabinet, a low shelf in your pantry, or other appropriate storage space.
The kitchen is such a central part of our home and so things that don’t belong there can easily take over. Remove the things that just don’t belong there, such as papers, bills, projects to do, junk mail, and school papers. If you can, designate a desk area or counter space for your Household Action Center.
Make use of under cabinet space by mounting clocks, radios and coffee makers. Keep papers out of the kitchen if you can. If you have a desk area in your kitchen, confine the papers to that zone.
Cabinets, Cupboards, Drawers
Take everything out of your cabinets, cupboard and drawers and take time to wipe down the shelves and drawers. Sort like items together. Get rid of the unwanted, broken, duplicate, never or barely used items. Keep only what you use and need. Ask yourself questions like, “when was the last time I used this?” or “how many mugs does our family really need?” Do you have more stuff than can fit comfortably into your space?
Don’t forget to weed through your plastic containers and keep only the ones that you really need. Get rid of the odd-size ones that don’t “nest” nicely. If possible, I like to store plastic containers in a cupboard and the lids organized in a drawer directly below. This allows for maximum storage. Some people prefer to store the lids on the containers to eliminate searching for the match.
After you have sorted everything and eliminated the unwanted, you need to decide were to store everything. Most used items should be stored between the knee and neck height: the bottom shelves of the cupboards, the counter top and top shelves of the cabinets. Less frequently used items will go on top shelf of the cupboards or the bottom of the cabinets.
Utilize a system by determining your kitchen zones (cooking, prep area, serving, etc). Items that go into drawers should be near where you will be using them. Knives next to the prep area, potholders next to the stove, dish clothes and towels near the sink.
Take everything out of your pantry area. Wipe down the shelves. Toss the expired items and donate any unwanted and usable goods to your local food pantry. Now, sort like items together into categories. Think of your pantry like a store. Create zones just like the aisle of a grocery store. For example, canned goods, baking needs, pastas and rice, seasoning, cereals, etc are typical zones.
Use containers to keep smaller like items together. Use canisters that are air tight and are stackable. Products like Tupperware are excellent choices. Don’t forget to label! Label containers or the front edge of shelves. This will help make retrieving and returning items a lot easier for all members of your household.
If you are limited on space in your kitchen, keep your cookbooks on a bookshelf in another area of your home. Keep only the books or recipes you actually use. If you keep a book because of one or two recipes, make a copy of those favorites and donate the book. A simple 3-ring binder with clear page protectors is a great way to store your favorite recipes. Add tabbed dividers to break the recipes down into categories. If you prefer to use index cards, keep them organized in a small inexpensive plastic photo album.
As always, every organizing project requires maintenance to be successful. On a daily basis load and unload the dishwasher and remove personal items and papers from the kitchen. Tune up your cabinets, cupboards and drawers every few months or as needed. Keeping your kitchen organized on a regular basis will help you to function smoothly and efficiently.
Paula Constable is professional organizer, speaker and owner of Stuff 2b Organized, LLC. She teaches busy moms and families how to regain control of their stuff, time, and activities by using her five-step STUFF System™. Paula is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and a founding member and past president of the Wisconsin Chapter of NAPO. Stuff 2b Organized is located in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin.