Wondering how I keep up with the kitchen?
I don’t. Obviously. Keep up with the kitchen. Not even close.
Now that we have 10+ kids, including so many littles, I’m finding it harder and harder to keep up with cooking and baking needs. And then there are the dishes. This is what my kitchen looks like after just one meal:
We overload our dishwasher (eeeek) and run it twice every day.
But here’s my attempt at answering:
How I Keep Up With the Kitchen
I’m not sure any of my answers will be super helpful since I’m in a unique season of life, but this is a question I am asked frequently so I wanted to share! So here’s what works for me right now.
1. Ask for help.
When our older boys were all home, we had a rotation for who would load the dishwasher, unload it, wipe down the table, sweep the floor, and wash pots and pans. We all worked together, all day long as needed, and the kitchen chores weren’t so bad.
They’ve all launched and left now – except for Malachi who is a senior in high school and too busy most days to do much except unload the dishwasher one time. This leaves me at home with six or seven littles (depending on the day) and they are ages 8, 7, 3, 3, 2, 2, and 1. They make more messes than I can keep up with, for sure!
I have been spending time teaching our 8 and 7-year-olds how to load and unload the dishwasher and they are very proud to be counted among the “big kid helpers.” Plus they are great (ok, maybe not great) at sweeping. :) Matt helps a little, but his help mostly looks like keeping kids out from underfoot so I can get something done.
So most of the kitchen and household chores fall to me. This is why I must…
2. Hire help.
I realize this isn’t something everyone can do or needs to do. But I need it and use a portion of our foster care subsidies to cover it. With so many littles and so many (mild) special needs, I truly am not able to keep up with housework anymore.
I hire three teenage girls to come to help me with childcare and housework on Wednesday afternoons and it is life-saving! I also hire two gals to come on weekday mornings for a couple of hours. I use this time to meal-prep, go to appointments, clean my kitchen, or whatever is most pressing that day. They help with childcare but are also great at grabbing a broom or loading the dishwasher as needed when they have a free hand. I am beyond thankful for this help!
3. Take advantage of any spare five minutes you might find.
All babies and toddlers are in their chairs eating or drinking? I put ten items in the dishwasher. Children are somehow magically all playing nicely in the living room? I grab the broom. Whenever I find a minute, I use it.
4. Use paper plates, paper towels, or skip plates altogether.
I don’t like spending money on disposable products, but during this season in life, I’ve found that I need to occasionally. No guilt.
Or, I figure I’m going to need to sweep toddler messes eight times a day anyway. So I might as well skip giving them a plate and hand them a muffin directly instead. There are lots of crumbs no matter how I present their food. :)
5. Embrace the mess.
This season truly won’t last forever. There are more important needs and priorities than keeping a perfect kitchen. If I have to wash a crusty pot or a pan right before I use it again, so be it. If my kitchen always looks a bit (or a lot) messy, oh well. Maybe I’m just used to it by now, or maybe I’ve learned that a sparkly kitchen doesn’t make me a “good homemaker.”
The state of my home right now shocks me sometimes, compared to the higher standards I once had for myself. But I’m beyond thankful to be raising this amazing group of kids!
Someday, in just a few years, every one of these kiddos will be capable of cleaning every inch of our house. I’ll live in the moment while also looking forward to those days! :)