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 cleanliness.
Unfortunately, the kitchen is also one of the dirtiest rooms in the house. Don't fight it; organize it and clean it! These kitchen cleaning rules can help.
These kitchen cleaning rules not only help cut down on clutter, they also encourage everyone to clean up after themselves.
And if everyone pitches in, there may actually be more time for dinner and the fun stuff!
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 entryway station where the day's items can be temporarily stashed and kept out of the way until needed.
Always take shoes off at the door and hang up coats and backpacks.
A no-shoes-inside policy helps keep floors and carpets cleaner by leaving the day's dirt outside, where it belongs.
Having everyone get in the habit of hanging up coats and backpacks as they walk in the door goes a long way toward enforcing Rule 1.
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 snack or meal, you're old enough to clean up after yourself. Put your dishes into the dishwasher (see rule #6 below) and wipe down the prep area or cooktop.
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 (such as wooden pieces), 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 countertops. 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 merely 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.
If you eat at and can reach the counter, you bus your 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.