Monday, January 5, 2009

Managing Our Homes Well - Challenge #1

Yesterday it was my Sunday to teach in Relief Society. I always look forward to these Sundays because I get to choose what to teach from a long list of provided materials & resources.  As I looked over the list, I saw the lesson from The Latter Day Saint Woman handbook titled, "Managing Our Homes Well". There was a multitude of resources & similiary titled lessons that I used to compile the main idea.  It's always amazing how you come upon a lesson hoping it will help others & you realize it was probably meant most for you, but the lesson went over well & I have decided to present a challenge to myself & my fellow sisters each week.  A challenge to help us maintain order in our homes & a higher level of functionality so that we can simplify our lives & spend more times caring for the life of our souls.  

SO..... Week One's Challenge is.....THE KITCHEN!!!  

(Disclaimer: I am by no means a professional cleaner, organizer or plan writer, but I am a bit obsessive about lists and plans and schedules and order.  I have read many, many, many websites, books, articles, magazines on organization and de-cluttering and all I want to do is share this wealth of information I have running around in my brain.  I only want to help myself and maybe even in the meantime help a few others to get that jump start they need to make more time for the eternally important things by getting our homes in order. If you don't like my suggestions or you know better ones, by all means, go for it & share your ideas freely. I know that in feeling you have a team of women all reaching for the same goal, it gives you that little extra push you need to keep going.)

You can pick a few tasks to do each day or take one day & do it all, it's up to you & your schedule & of course this comes after your more important duties, which you should be prioritizing as suggested.  Pick the top 5 most important things you need to do each day & make sure you get those done, that way whatever else you are able to fit into your day is just added to your success. 
Suggested Tasks for your Kitchen:
Task 1: Your fridge
* When is the last time you went through & got rid of all the expired food, the unused containers of leftovers, the science experiments?  And after you do that, clean that baby!  Get some cleaner, lots of papertowels or rags & make it sparkle!  Add a new box of baking soda to keep down the odors.  You can even go so far as to organize a few things.
* I have small, low baskets that I use for separating cheeses & meats on my shelves & the veggies in the big drawer in the bottom. The Dollar Tree has an endless supply & variety of baskets that can be used for organizing & believe me, they work just as well in your fridge.  There is even a basket for kid appropriate snacks that works great when my kids say they are hungry.
Task 2: The plastics cupboard
*Do you hoard all used plastic containers; sour cream, butter, cool whip? Do you have an over abundance of Rubbermaid & other plastic storage containers?  Do you even know if all of them have lids?  It's time to tackle that cupboard space & let go of what doesn't serve it's purpose anymore.
*A reasonable amount of containers is 10.  This is more than enough to keep leftovers in your fridge or pass along goodies to neighbors & friends.  If it has a lid, keep it, if it's doesn't, recycle it if you can or donate it.  Some containers can even be used in the garage to keep nails/screws separated or for paint containers.
* If you don't have the space to store your containers with their lids on them, you can use a container that did not have a matching lid to store your lids in & that way you have only have one place to look for the lid or put it back after washing.
Task 3: The rest of your dishes
*How many pots & pans do you have?  Do you have lids that don't even fit pans you have?  How many baking dishes do you own?  How many mixing bowls?  My suggested number for these items is as follows:
3 saucepans
1 large skillet
1-2 medium/small skillets
2 stock pots
And anything else you use at least twice a month.
3 cake pans
2 10x13 dishes
2 pie plates
2 cookie sheets
1 jelly roll pan
2 square (8x8 or 9x9) baking dishes
2-3 casserole dishes
And again, anything else you use at least twice a month.
5 good mixing bowls of varying sizes is more than enough
REMEMBER: The more you have, the more dirty dishes you create for yourself.
Task 4: Utensil drawers
* The same rules apply for utensils. If there are gadgets you have in your drawers that you have only used once or twice in the last 6 months, it's time to LET GO.  Use slim long containers/baskets in your drawers to separate your utensils whether it be the everyday kind or the cooking/baking kind. 
* As you clean out these drawers - take everything out & wipe down those drawers!  Odds are, there are quite a few crumbs in the bottom.  And you only need 2 sets of silverware per person in your house.  2 forks, 2 spoons, 2 knives for each person. Anymore than that, just causes more dishes to do & more clutter in your drawers.
*Are you a cookie cutter junkie?  Do you really need 4 Christmas trees & 8 stars?  Cut down to the basics, two of each & keep them in an oversized ziploc bag or a shoebox.   
Task 5: Linens
* How many dishtowels do you have?  How many tablecloths, placemats & napkins do you have stored away?  Cut down, let go of those you don't use on a regular basis.  If it's a holiday tablecloth, put it away with your holiday decorations.  It's a good rule to have at least 4 good tableclothes, 2 sets of placemats in a general color to match your tablecloths & 2 sets of fabric napkins if you use that sort of thing.  If you have one fancy set you only use with your fancy dishes, set it aside somewhere with your fancy dishes, don't keep them with the everyday linens.
Task 6: Food Cupboards
* Do you know where all of your rice & beans are?  Could you find the cake mix if you needed to?  Do you know where that box of au gratin potatoes are that you bought two shopping trips ago? 
* Take the time now to go through your cupboards. Pass along to friends or neighbors the food you know you or your family will not eat.  Sometimes I buy new snacks for my kids that they simply will not eat, but that doesn't mean their friends down the road won't think they're the best snack ever! 
*  Separate food types- potatoes, rice, beans- then pastas, boxed dinners, packaged sides.  Again I use baskets in my cupboards too.  I have a basket for envelope mixes, soups, spices.  I have a basket for muffin mixes and quick snacks in envelopes.  They work wonders for organizing your cupboards.  Make rows in your canned goods for veggies, fruits, soups, cooking needs. 
* Don't put out the new cereal boxes or the new packages of snacks until the old ones are gone. Find a closet or a shelf somewhere or your food storage area to keep the new boxes. People in your home will always go for the new, wasting the old, so don't even let them know they're there until all their other options are exhausted.  
* Go through your spices. Some spices do expire & there's no point in using them because they will add nothing to your dish.  Buy an inexpensive lazy susan to keep out on your counter to hold the spices you use on a regular basis, keep the rest in your cupboard.  Make a list of those you don't have or need to replace on your next shopping trip.
YOUR REWARD FOR MEETING THE CHALLENGING: The extra time you just saved by not digging for food in the fridge or cupboards, the time you just saved on not washing so many dishes, you can now use that time to choose a sister to serve the next week.  Write a heartfelt note, share a good article out of the Ensign that touched you, invite her to lunch, just give her a call & see if she needs someone to talk to.  It will be a reward for both of you!!


mom/caryn said...

The good news is that it gets SOOO much easier when the kiddies are off to school, work, or raising their own little families and there are only two of you again.

You may think when you look at the living room full of crayons, socks, and action figures that this will never happen. But, trust me it goes by faster than a blink. All too soon you'll be looking at an empty guest room and longing to see the bed filled with your babies in their footie jamies.

Great ideas. I'm an old lady who's lived long enough to have done all of it... I had no problem at all tossing out the excess cookie cutters and potato peelers. I only have one full set of dishes (gave the rest to Chandi) I let my neighbors carry the extra jelly roll pans and stock pots from my garage before we moved into a smaller home. I chucked the spices that I don't use, gave my son lots of kitchen ware and favorite decor that won't fit in or doesn't compliment my new home...But... I just can't seem to get rid of any of the collection of 40 mixing bowls that I've grown attached to. I have committedto not buying any more, however. The deal is... something new in... something old out.

Next I have to do that with clothes. I hang on for EVER to clothes. How dumb is that?

Sybil said...

What a great idea! I can't get rid of my cake pans though, you know I use those not that often but you never know when a friend will need help with cake and I have just the pan to help her, ha ha. But I soooo need to clean my fridge. Its pretty scary what is stuck to the bottom of it! Yikes! Great ideas!