“I didn’t make this mess. So why do I have to clean it up?”
For years, I heard these words of protest from my kids when it was their turn to clean up the kitchen.
Sometimes, I responded with a snarky comeback about all my years of selfless diaper-changing. Other times, I cleaned up the kitchen myself.
Honestly, whenever I took care of the kitchen on my own, I caught myself thinking the exact same thing:
I didn’t make this mess. So why do I have to clean it up?
The problem with cleaning the kitchen
Our protests reveal our belief that whoever makes the kitchen mess should be the one to clean it up.
As with so many time-honored cliches, this seems so logical.
Like, “You break it; you fix it.”
And, “You make your bed; you lie in it.”
“You mess it, you clean it.”
It just felt right.
But it caused all sorts of overwhelmingly negative feelings, such as annoyance, frustration, irritation, and resentment. (Just for starters.)
A different way of thinking
A few years ago, I realized there are valid exceptions to the “you mess it, you clean it” rule.
1. Sometimes, the person who makes the kitchen mess has done so to bless the family, or perhaps a houseful of guests, with a delicious meal. Since they’ve done all the work of fixing the food, it’s only fair for others to pitch in and help with the clean-up.
2. Other times, the kitchen stays messy while a cleaning-related process is happening, such as running the dishwasher or waiting for pots and pans in the drainer to air dry.
3. Often, it’s impossible to figure out “who made this mess.” When we try, we end up in petty arguments:
– “No, that’s not my knife. I put my knife in the dishwasher already!”
– “Those aren’t my crumbs. I know how to use a sponge!”
– “The stain in the sink is green. I never fix green food.”
Our solution to cut the complaining
Instead of wasting our time and energy fretting about “who made this mess?” we started asking ourselves one simple question when entering the kitchen:
“How can I move the kitchen to its next stage?”
Together, we came up with a list of kitchen stages and necessary actions:
The sink is full of dishes. Put them in the dishwasher.
The dishwasher is full. Run it.
The dishwasher is clean. Empty it.
The dishes in the drainer are dry. Put them away.
The counters are crumby. Wipe them down.
This one simple change in focus produced surprising results.
1. We’ve quit worrying about “Who made the mess?” and accepted the fact kitchens get messy.
2. We’ve all taken ownership of the kitchen. And its messes and clean-up.
3. We’ve become more considerate. We realize when we each do our small part, the “next stage” requires far less work.
Making it work for you
Your kitchen stages may well be different than ours. And if you have younger children, you’ll want to break the various stages and actions into micro-steps. Perhaps even make a stages flow chart and wipe-off checklist to put on the fridge.
Consider printing and posting 1 Corinthians 12:14-27 as a reminder that while we are unique individuals, God calls us to work together as one.
One Small Win: However you choose to do it, intentionally change the protest “I didn’t make this mess!” to the question “How can I move the kitchen to its next stage?”
You’ll say, “Good-bye” to overwhelming negativity.
And “Hello” to cooperation in the kitchen.
Cheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. Her passion is helping women break free from destructive expectations. She writes and speaks from the conviction that “how to” works best in partnership with “heart, too.”
Cheri is the co-author, with Kathi Lipp, of The Cure for the “Perfect” Life and Overwhelmed.
Cheri has been “wife of my youth” to Daniel, her opposite personality, for twenty-eight years and is “Mom” to Annemarie (25) and Jonathon (24), also opposite personalities.
Are you a Highly Sensitive Person? Take the self-quiz and discover the surprising strengths of a tender heart.
by Kelsee Keitel
Would you join me in a moment of silence for all the Tupperware containers lost due to my neglect? First stranded in my vehicle for weeks, then tossed to their dumpster deaths?
I can’t tell you the number of Tupperware containers I’ve thrown away without even attempting to open last month’s leftover salad. (At least I think that was salad; you never can tell after 30 days.)
Sometimes I think my Camry is more like a scrapbook than a car.
If given the chance to ride shot-gun amongst my leftover lunches, you may notice the floorboards are littered with last week’s junk mail, sermon flyers from at least four Sundays back, and straw paper memories of the last several early morning fast food breakfast meals I’ve consumed (Chicken-Minis anyone?).
Make your way to the backseats, and you’ll find a baker’s dozen of half-consumed water bottles, about a week’s worth of wardrobe, and enough old receipts to save a rain forest.
I don’t even have children. I can only guess what goodies they would add to my collection!
I remember being 16 and thinking I’d never trash my beloved ride to freedom.
But here I am.
Life, it turns out, is messy.
And you might be in the lane next to me, surrounded by your own junky memorabilia.
I actually don’t mind cleaning my vehicle all that much. But getting myself to actually do it? That is the problem.
I’ve got every excuse for procrastinating this job. My biggest being that the temperature outside is too uncomfortable. (I live in Indiana … so the hot is hot and the cold is COLD!) My next excuse, I honestly forget until the next morning when candy wrappers spill out when opening my door.
But there is hope!
I recently found a system that works for me. I still use the floorboards as my personal dumpster (we’re breaking one habit at a time here, okay?). I no longer have trouble making myself clean out my car.
Here’s my simple system:
When you leave for work in the morning, take two plastic grocery sacks to the vehicle with you.
Go about your day and make as many messes as you like.
When you get home at the end of the day, you’ll be prepared to clean out your vehicle (which happens to be the perfect temperature because you’ve been driving it!)
Fill one plastic sack with trash. Fill the other with items that need to go inside.
On your way inside throw the trash in the trashcan.
Bam! You’re done!
I like this system so much that I’ve started to leave a supply of sacks in my car to tidy up whenever I feel inspired.
One Small Win: If you tired of putting off the task of cleaning your car, gather up some grocery sacks right now and put them by your car keys. Next time you leave, equip yourself for the job with no excuses.
Just think of all the Tupperware we can save!
Kelsee Keitel is a graduate student and blogger, living in Indianapolis, IN, with her newlywed husband. She is passionate about cultivating sisterhood through vulnerability and introducing young women to the freedom and abundance of life in following Christ. When Kelsee is not snuggled up with a book and sipping tea, she can be found experimenting in the kitchen or chatting with her mom.
You can read more about how Kelsee experiences divine moments in the midst of ordinary life over at kelseekeitel.com or on Instagram and Facebook.
It’s a new day, ripe with promise and potential … until I walk into the kitchen. Dishes in the sink, counters dotted with dirty dishes and crumbs, and a cluttered table converge to sing a taunting chorus, “You can’t even keep the kitchen clean, how can you accomplish anything today!”
The strains of their tune causes my motivation to plunge to the depths where my only response is to use the messy kitchen as my excuse for another unproductive day.
Organizing the kitchen without being overwhelmed
The overwhelm knocks me off of my game and renders my to-do list unattainable.
I can’t prep dinner until I unload and load the dishwasher, wipe the counters, and find the recipe. Do I even have thyme in the spice cupboard for the soup? I go to the narrow pull-out cupboard of spices and decide then and there that it is time to win a battle.
I remove unalphabetized spices from the cupboard, meanwhile telling the voices in my head to be quiet; I know I don’t have time for this! But I need a win! The thought strikes me that squelching the noisy refrain from the clutter does not require a weekend of organizing and cleaning. I can win this battle one decision at a time, in just 15 minute increments at a time.
And so I record a victory over the spice cupboard! Now I open the spice drawer and I smile. I smile that I can find what I want. I smile at the homemade spice labels that I commissioned my daughter to make. Such a simple accomplishment but it’s huge for my mindset!
I just needed a win. The next day I silence the noise in the cupboard that houses the varying bottles of olive oil. Another win. I will continue to build on this and soon the kitchen will motivate me instead of overwhelm me.
As I bask in my two wins I realize that once the kitchen is a motivator instead of a killjoy I can apply this to other areas of my home and life. Some momentum in the kitchen will spill over to the rest of my responsibilities and perhaps soon I will feel able to tackle the things that I want to do instead of being overwhelmed by all the things I need to do.
One Small Win: For me, the way out from under overwhelmed is to claim one win and allow that to carry me forward. Who knew that one of the kindest things I’ve ever done for myself was to clean out the spice cupboard?
You can read more from Bethany Howard at bethanyhoward.com. She writes about finding fuel for joy and growth in the details of the daily. Her greatest leadership exercise has been her roles as wife and mom to three. She is a graduate of Leverage: The Speaker Conference.
Clutter’s #1 priority is to keep us feeling overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed comes in many forms. Kathi and Overwhelmed co-author, Cheri Gregory, discuss how easy it is to be overwhelmed with clutter. They go through three of the top things clutter tells you!
- Clutter Keeps You In The Past – You hang on to things the crowd out the present.
- Clutter Keeps You Stuck in the Future – You buy things to be something. Because someday you might need it you hang on to all the clutter. You can’t live in the present when you have so much stuff and you are stuck in the future.
- Clutter Decides You Have Not Earned A Future – Because you have failed with various endeavors in the past, you won’t be good at something in the future. So yu are stuck in your current situation. Clutter says you don’t deserve to move forward.
Listen in and learn how decluttering will free you from the overwhelm.
Want more tips on being Clutter Free?
Check out Kathi’s blog posts and episodes of the Clutter Free Podcast by clicking here.
Recorded on the road in a recent trip across the country, Kathi and Roger share there favorite travel tips. Traveling is usually stressful enough and the holidays really ramp up that stress level. Packing the right things and having the right tools can save a ton of headaches (and money!) Kathi and Roger Lipp discuss tips for everything from how many pairs of shoes you need to pack to what to stash in your carry-on to your tech travel needs.
As a couple traveling several times every month, they have the packing down to a science. Their tips are sure to help you as you pack for your next trip.
Kathi’s Best Tips
• Only pack two pairs of shoes (and wear one on the plane): Walking shoes, flats and heels. Plan all your clothes around those three pairs of shoes.
• All your clothes should go together and should be based around a color or two. My last trip everything was brown and turquoise. Everything “went” with everything else.
• Carry Woolite packets for quick loads of laundry in your hotel sink.
• If you have access to a washing machine, carry a few Tide Pods in a travel soap case.
• If you check a bag, throw a pair of underwear in your carry on. You can face anything (even lost luggage,) with a clean pair of underwear.
• A Contigo cup will keep your coffee warm, and keep you from spilling hot liquid all over yourself on the plane.
• Don’t buy travel sized items (the price per ounce is obscene.) Refill travel size bottles.
• Hoard the travel size toothpaste you get from your dentist. (And the ones your kids get.)
• If you forget something when you travel, ask the front desk of your hotel. They often have toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, etc.
• Carry long USB cords for inconvenient plugs in hotels.
• Carry a multi-USB plug for charging on the go.
• Buy snacks at your local grocery store instead of at the airport or hotels. The prices are a fraction at home.
• Bring lots of Ziploc bags.
Roger and Kathi mentioned many items that are must have’s when they travel. For more info on each, simply click. Links take you to Amazon.com and are affiliate links.
Pack-it-Flat Toiletry Kit
Waze: Free Community-based Mapping, Traffic & Navigation App
5ft Nylon Braided Tangle Free Micro USB Cable Cord
Dual USB Travel Wall Charger
The Curly Co. Collapsible Hair Diffuser
Woolite Travel Detergent Packets
2-in-1 Mobile Phone Car Mount, Holder
If we forgot any important travel tips or you have advice for packing and traveling, please leave your comments below so we can include them in a future podcast. Everyone that leaves a comment will be entered into a drawing for Kathi’s book, The Get Yourself Organized Project.
Holidays can be stressful, Thanksgiving is no exception. While the focus is to be counting our blessings, the stress can send us over the edge. Cooking a big meal for a larger than normal group of people is stressful. Even if you aren’t cooking, fixing a dish to take with you, making sure everyone is on their best behavior, dealing with relatives that sometimes push your buttons can cause extra stress.
Listen in as Kathi talks about 10 ways to reduce Thanksgiving Stress and enjoy the day. Her tips will help you plan, clean, prepare the meal, and enjoy the day with less stress.
Don’t miss our Get Yourself Organized for Christmas challenge. We’ll be going through 21 days of (simple & quick) projects that will get your Christmas organized well ahead of time so you can enjoy a stress free holiday season. Subscribe to the blog. The challenge begins November 14, 2016.