All I wanted is to find was to find a way to a non-soul sucking way to clean the kitchen.
I had a vision for how a “good” parent and partner keeps her kitchen. Where this comes from and why I subscribe to it is a story for a whole other post. But here is what I know – having a ritual of “closing down” the kitchen with clean surfaces and a dishwasher running untangles knots in my belly.
My vision is for counters wiped down, things in their place, hand washed dishes air drying on their mat, and the dishwasher running so my family has clean plates to eat off of and no one is eating their food off a Tupperware lid.
This vision rarely manifests to reality. I am tired after working for 12 hours and my couch has this weird force field that makes it difficult for me to escape. Plus we are in the middle of binging Big Bang Theory and there are about 7 million episodes.
I feel shame when I sink into the couch on my 3rd episode while the meatloaf grease congeals in the pan and the mail lays unopened on the counter.
This is not productive nor sustainable.
Can you relate?
Let’s solve this story problem together.
Step 1 – Ask the Questions
Creating a life you don’t need to escape starts with asking the Sustainable Productivity questions.
Is this Productive: Am I getting the result I want?
No. Tomorrow Susan is annoyed when Last Night Susan could not at least run the dishwasher to have clean coffee cups for the morning. I know my environmental surroundings contribute directly to a Sustainably Productive life and not cleaning up is not helping me create the life I want.
Is this Sustainable: Can I continue this lifelong if I want?
No. I don’t want to feel weighed down by inertia on the couch and glued to the TV. Guilt, shame, shoulds and embarrassment are not feelings I want to keep around lifelong.
Time for an adjustment.
Step 2 – Make an Adjustment
Clean the kitchen before sitting down for TV. Boom done.
But it is not that easy. Sometimes a recipe seems to take every dang dish in our cabinets. Sometimes the shenanigans of the day leave me not able to even chuck the cloth napkins in the hamper.
To make an adjustment that is Sustainably Productive, we need to start small. What is a one small thing that can be repeated each night after dinner to signal the kitchen is “clean and closed”? Here are some suggestions:
- Load and start the dishwasher. Some models have delayed start allowing for those teenagers in your house having second dinner to add their dishes. If the cycle starts at 3:00 am you can still have clean mugs come morning.
- Wash and put away the pots and pans.
- Set up the coffee pot to be ready to start or set the timer if your model has one.
- Chuck any papers in the box designated for this.
- Clear surfaces of dog leashes/treats, backpacks, books, and other random crap that accumulates.
- Corral shoes left in the kitchen, sending them back to their proper homes.
This is a list of adjustments to make, non-soul sucking ways to clean the kitchen. The intention is not to do all of it all the time. When I am fired up and motivated, I make checklists to do ALL of these things EVERY night. Then night comes and I can’t do it all so I do none. Guilt, shame, shoulds and embarrassment.
The adjustment is to pick one. Maybe it’s the shoes. Maybe you need to start smaller – it is your shoes. Every night this week put away your shoes. That’s it. If you do anything else, great. But putting away your shoes is how we are defining success.
Then at the end of the week, see how you did.
Step 3 – Evaluate Your Progress
After a week, check in to see how it went. Maybe putting away your shoes gave you momentum to drop the papers in the box, which lead to firing up the dishwasher between episodes. Great!
If you feel dialed into this new non-soul sucking ways to clean the kitchen, stay this course. If you still feel negative feelings about it, start back over at step 1 and identify what is the biggest pain point. Make the adjustment. Evaluate progress.
Let me know where you want to apply the Sustainable Productivity questions in your life. Together we can brainstorm ways to break it down and create a life you don’t need to escape.