Thursday Series: The Effective Kitchen, love the one you’re with…part 2.

Posted: 05/09/2013 in The Effective Kitchen, Thursday Series, Uncategorized

In case you missed the beginning of the series, you can find the intro post and part 1 here.

Now that you’ve gotten rid of the mind clutter that is ‘the perfect kitchen’ and accepted with love & vodka (or love of vodka – that’s okay too) who you really are in that room, giving thought to what you actually use your kitchen for, what comes next?

Lean into the habits that help you.

This is the part where I tell you a little story.

Once upon a time, I hung out with a single mom who kept a pretty fine looking apartment. I’m serious – there was a kid there and the place still looked normal. Anyway…when she went into the kitchen to cook, she would have her son sit at the table and color. He was old enough that he didn’t need a great deal of supervision playing but enough that she still wanted him to be in the same room with her. He was content with the coloring. But every time she went to cook dinner, she would call him in, then tell him to go get his crayons and coloring books, then have to go chase him down when he didn’t come back right away, then deal with a meltdown if he had to step away from whatever had distracted him before he got to the crayons…yaddah, yaddah, yaddah…and about 20 minutes later, she’d actually get to start cooking dinner. With both of them frustrated.

On her kitchen table was a lovely little basket of fake flowers.

I ask you, how would this scenario have changed on an almost daily basis if instead of flowers, that little basket contained crayons and there were some coloring books stacked up underneath it? If the first time she called him into the room, the supplies were already there and the kid could sit down and get on with the rainbow-making? She’d already formed the coloring habit but she hadn’t fully leaned into yet by having the right tools handy.

You already do the things that help you live your life.

You already have those actions imbedded into your daily habits. So put the tools in place to be successful in that spot rather than try to change the location of the action – lean into the helpful habit. Like where you put your mail down – I’ve mentioned this before – no matter where you open up a spot to put the mail elsewhere in the house because it’ll look nice, because that’s what a foyer is for, because it should go there… you’ve programmed yourself to open mail in a spot that is natural to you. So set yourself up for success THERE – in the natural spot. Put a wastebasket there for junk mail & torn envelopes. Maybe a little container for the mail you need to keep and deal with later.  You don’t need to do that anywhere else in the house if you’re set for success where it’s natural to you. Should is irrelevant in the face of what is.

Most of us do not have company every single day.

But, you say, that wastebasket won’t look good when company comes over! We can’t have that there! It’s not as pretty! Yes, there is a certain joy that comes with having the house look nice just for you – but, most of us don’t have company every single day and being comfortable has it’s nice-ness too. You can move the conveniences when you entertain. You can empty the wastebasket & put it in a closet for the day. You can put the basket of flowers back on the table and tuck the crayons in a cabinet. The people who aren’t going to give you any warning before they stop by already know what a mess you are, the rest of the people you can fool when they call ahead.

Also, there’s a funny thing about leaning into the habit – when you put the right tools in place – the whole house seems to get neater of it’s own accord.  There’s less picking up to do before company comes over because you haven’t been dumping things in all the wrong places. It takes 10 minutes to sub out flowers for crayons & tuck an emptied wastebasket into a closet. It can take an hour or more to start sorting all the mail you’ve thrown in 3 different places on the route between where you do put the mail and where you think you should put the mail.

I mentioned that for my house, my husband’s coat and work boots tend to end up in the kitchen – and that the dog runs in and out of the kitchen door. That those things are going to keep happening no matter what we put in place in that room. So, to lean into those facts & habits rather than fight with them, when we gutted the kitchen, among other changes I factored in a windowseat into that big space where there was nothing. Right next to it, we put in a little bookshelf – which we use for shoes/boots on the bottom shelf. Towels to towel off a wet dog stacked on another shelf – and the top shelf has baskets for dog things – leashes, medications – things that used to end up piled on the old kitchen tables. Before it ALWAYS!!  looked like crap and there was this ‘flight of the bumblebee’ cleaning that took way too long every time we had people over.  DROVE ME CRAZY!! It’s absolutely amazing how much neater that section of the room looks on a daily basis now that we are set up to support the habits we already had rather than trying to force habits we didn’t want (eating at a table in a room we didn’t enjoy being in).

[Sidebar: This is the place where I am total blogger failure as I forgot to take pictures of my kitchen for this part of the series. Dear Blogpeeps, I O U windowseat photos. Love, Bloggerfail]

Because it’s nicer in the room in general and our needs in that space are being met, we both spend more time in there. While I’m still the primary chef in our house, Eric volunteers to cook more often & sticks around to help me when I cook – or at least keep me company while we listen to the Reds game.

He still has to go hang his coat somewhere else though. I can’t buy into that habit. But now that the whole rest of the room looks much nicer – he clues into getting that coat picked up far sooner now. I rarely have to say anything.

Again, it doesn’t take gutting the room to make that happen. Small, subtle changes can make a huge difference!

So, with these actions you take in your kitchen that don’t necessarily relate to cooking, how can you set them up for success? What tools do you need in place to help them truly flow if you lean into them? Would a small shoerack by the kitchen door catch those bike cleats that keep ending up in a heap even though there are 16 empty slots on the shoerack in your closet? Would some legos better suit your kitchen table than fruit or flowers? Or a basket of powerbars & Gu to remind you to grab one on your way out the door to run/bike?


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