I’d like to share a story . . .
This happened years ago, long before I even conceived the idea for Home On Purpose. I was picking up my friend, Maggie, to go out for some girl time.
When I arrived, she invited me in and asked me to wait as she finished cleaning up breakfast. We chatted as she scrubbed each one before putting it in the dishwasher.
I could tell she was annoyed with the job. Maggie clearly disliked washing dishes (who doesn’t?), and that morning with stubborn egg yolks and sticky syrup, it was particularly obnoxious.
I also noticed something else . . .
The entire family, which included three kids, had stacked their breakfast plates in one tall tower by the side of the sink. That meant the bottom of each plate had picked up all the yuck from the plate below, which effectively doubled her workload.
I wasn’t sure whether saying something would be considered rude or helpful.
Since she was a good friend, I took the risk and asked if I could offer a little suggestion that might make washing dishes easier. Thankfully, she said yes. I pointed out that having the family line up the dirty dishes across the counter instead of stacking them would keep the bottoms clean.
Maggie just stared at me.
Oh no. She’s offended. I shouldn’t have said anything! Awkward silence . . .
But then she began looking around her kitchen with a puzzled expression as if searching for something. Finally, she said aloud,
“Well, that’s silly. I mean seriously . . . Why didn’t I think of that?”
As it turns out, there was a very sensible explanation for why she hadn’t thought of that before.
When Maggie was growing up, her mom would always tell the kids, “Stack your plates by the sink.” It’s only natural that after hearing that phrase every day of her life, she would use that expression with her own family.
Some habits are so deeply ingrained that we simply forget to question them.
Once Maggie realized there was no good reason for stacking the plates, she instituted a new system called the “Plate Train.” Now after each meal, she says, “Line up your plates on the counter.”
This one small change has made her dishwashing life so much easier!
I actually run into this situation quite a lot as a home-management coach.
Most of us automatically do things the way our parents did them until we have a reason to do otherwise.
- One client packed her pantry with enough food to last the winter even though there was a grocery store down the street. Why? Because she grew up in a rural area, miles from the nearest town, so her parents had to stock up.
- Another client used the kitchen counter to sort her mail, even though it constantly got in the way. Why? Because that’s where her mom sorted mail.
- I’ve even caught myself repeating their habits! As a newlywed, I kept every tiny bit of leftovers, even though my husband and I weren’t eating them. Why? Because that’s what my family did.
This is not to say that my parents’ habits were “wrong” in any way. But the same approach that worked beautifully for them, might turn out to be completely inefficient for us.
We need to make thoughtful and intentional choices that work best for our unique households.
Can you think of a task that feels harder than it should be? Ask yourself whether your approach has been intentionally chosen, or is it a result of habit? Now ask yourself, “What would make this task easier?”
This is especially crucial in the kitchen.
Of all the rooms in the house, the kitchen is where the vast majority of the daily tasks are done. Planning meals, making grocery lists, prepping food, cooking food, eating, cleaning up, and dozens of other daily responsibilities.
It adds up fast!
That is why I built every lesson of the Kitchen Series around the question, “What would make the kitchen tasks easier?”
I walk you through the process of evaluating each one of your kitchen habits and help you develop more efficient routines that suit your family, your lifestyle, and your spaces.
By the end of the series, your kitchen will be running like a well-oiled machine!