Counters seems to be a daily battle to maintain. All of the junk that follows you in the door- mail, school papers, coffee cups, water bottles, pens, clips, hats… whatever you had in your hands as you moved from room to room can easily find it’s way onto that wide, flat, inviting space-the counter!
These large surfaces stretch across a high-traffic area & in many houses this space becomes a DUMPING GROUND!
Counters are meant to offer your kitchen clean, open prep & serving space, but often times they become so full of “stuff” that by the time you clear the space, you no longer have energy to cook or bake.
Here’s what you can do to shift this pattern & take back your counters!
- Declare you are ready for a change! Make a statement. Post a note. Tell a friend & be sure to tell your family that you are turning the page & creating a new way to use the space.
- Evaluate the clutter & begin the sort. Take some time to think about the patterns that are creating the clutter-this will identify the best ways to shift or stop those routines .Ask yourself what doesn’t belong? What stays in the space? What is trash or recycling? Where is the majority of the clutter coming from? Who’s clutter is it? And are you storing items on the counter that could be put away in cupboards or drawers?
- Reserve the counter for daily use items only. This means you might have to dig into your cupboards & drawers to clear out the items that are no longer used or needed to make space for the items that you have been storing on the counter. You will be better able to maintain counters that have open space as clutter attracts clutter, so the less stuff you have out, the less will collect.
- Once the counter is clear, create boundaries & declare the “new normal” around it’s use. State your expectations in simple terms, such as, “The counter is only a temporary stop for mail & school papers. They will be dealt with and removed by 8pm every night.” OR place a small basket or bowl at the end of the counter that can be designated as the “clutter catcher” and make time once a week to sort & empty it.
- Create a daily clearing habit. Fix a time each day & think about the cue that will remind you that it’s time to clear off the counter. The transition time before evening meal prep is a great time for this. Right before you start to pull out food, deal with the items that were dropped on the counter after work or school. Take 2 mins. to move them on to their rightful places and then begin your meal prep. Another option is to use the time right after your kids get home from school & before they sit down for a snack. Sort the items into piles for each child & set them at their place at the counter. A new routine is put in place that involves the kids returning those items to backpacks, rooms, or bins as you prep the snack- by the time they get back to the kitchen, the snack is ready & the jobs are done for the day! This takes a little work on the grown-ups part, as you need to sort out the items & place them in your child’s place, but it is worth the extra minute or two to keep the counters clear each day.
- Commit to a clear counter before you head to bed each night. Put away the stray items from your evening meal, wipe down the counters, & close up the kitchen for the night.
Waking up to a clean, clear kitchen work space will be worth the bit of extra energy it took to start the new routine. Keep at it and you will have created a habit that sticks & your counters will be clear & ready to serve you & your family!
Are you in a daily battle with your countertops? Have you taken the time to evaluate the main source of the clutter? Have you been storing items on the counter that could be put away in cupboards? Before you make any changes, take some time to reflect on your patterns & habits-this will create more clarity around the real problem spots.
Need to start small? Commit to clearing one space on your counter using the tips above and notice the difference. Make a goal to stick with your new routine for 1 week and let me know how it goes.
If you need support to evaluate your routines & the root of the clutter, be in touch! Problem-solving and creating new systems is what I do best!