The kitchen is the room where everyone congregates, and, consequently, it's usually one of the messiest rooms in the house.
Yet it's also the place where we gather at the end of each day (as often as we can, anyway) to break bread, wind down, and refuel.
It's these activities especially that require an elevated level of home cleaning and organization.
Here are 10 family kitchen cleaning rules to consider instituting in your home to bring sanity and calmness back to this busy hub.
Never put anything on the kitchen counter or table as you come in the door. These are forbidden zones
To prevent dumping here, create an organized entryway station where the day's items can be temporarily stashed and kept out of the way until needed.
In addition to being able to monitor what the kids eat, by confining eating to the kitchen and dining room, this simple rule goes a long way toward keeping the whole house cleaner, too.
Always clean up behind yourself. If you're old enough to grab your own snack or meal, you're old enough to do some kitchen cleaning, such as putting your dishes away and wiping down the prep area or cook top. (See kitchen chores for kids by age.)
Always put dirty dishes into the dishwasher, not the sink. The dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand.
Hand wash only the larger, bulkier items that won't fit, or shouldn't be put in (wooden items), the dishwasher.
The person who finds a full dishwasher should add dishwashing detergent and start the machine.
Crummy way to live, with food all over the counter tops. Although insects don't necessarily think this way. (Need I say more?) The wipe-down-kitchen-counters-after-use rule goes a long way toward keeping the kitchen clean and hygienic.
Kids - and some grown-ups - have a habit of leaving cabinet doors open after perusing the contents inside.
Nip this one in the bud.
Make it a rule that everyone is required to close cabinet doors they've opened. Ditto for drawers.
Ask to be excused from the table, don't just get up and leave. It's simply polite, and respectful to the chef du jour, to ask permission to be excused from the table.
If kids must receive permission before snacking or grabbing dessert, parents can keep tabs on family nutrition, and - be given ample time to ensure the kitchen cleaning rules are followed afterward.
If you eat at, and can reach the counter, the kitchen cleaning rules require that you bus your own plate. It's only fair, after all, that everyone pitches in. (See 4 above.)
Get a list of kitchen chores for kids by age for guidelines on reasonable expectations for kids.