When we first moved into our new place, my least favourite thing about it was the kitchen. If you can call it a kitchen. More like a hallway lined with appliances and one itty-bitty square of counter space. I could live with pretty much everything else in the house, but that kitchen? I couldn't even begin to imagine how I could cook proper meals in there.
Funny how things work out. I never expected it, but having a small (small, ha! tiny!) kitchen has not only been bearable, but it's finally forced me to smarten up as far as cleaning that area of my home goes. The kitchen has always been my weak point. Yes, I'm one of those people who would shove all the dirty pots and pans into the oven before someone showed up at the door. The dishwasher tended to be slowly emptied through use rather than intention - and then filled back up and immediately turned on when those clean dishes ran out. I'd dig in and clean up when I could force myself to, but in no time it would be out of hand again. A bigger kitchen simply meant more room to stack dirty dishes, more time to procrastinate while the mess grew, more counter space to fill up before I ran out of room, more opportunity to feel overwhelmed by the mess and choose to put off cleaning it for "just one more night". I'd do it tomorrow. Really.
Now? I couldn't let the kitchen get to that state if I wanted to. There's just no room. It's either keep the kitchen tidy or not cook at all. It also did terrible things to my mental state in those early days of living here, waking up to a cluttered and messy kitchen and not being able to ignore it like I could in a bigger place. I was grumpy, I was frustrated, and of course it must be my husband's fault, since he chose a house with such a ridiculously small kitchen.
So I switched back to a habit I had tried (and failed) to develop several times in the past - spotless kitchen before bedtime, every night. This time, though, the habit stuck. And wow, does it ever make life easier. Who knew?
Cleaning food off a pot I used that evening takes a matter of seconds; scrubbing the same pot that has sat out for a few days involves much soaking and scrubbing (and is just plain more disgusting). Keeping up with the dishwasher means having an empty surface when I need it, rather than having to clean off a space before cooking dinner or baking cookies. Dealing with only one set of dishes and pots requires a few minutes of my evening; days' worth of dishes require an exponentially larger chunk of time to get on top of. And those few minutes in the evening mean I get to wake up to a clean kitchen every morning, which leaves me feeling far more calm and peaceful.
Sometimes I do it immediately after supper; sometimes I wait until the boy is asleep. But it's always done, every night. Dishes in the dishwasher, pots washed and put away, counters and tables washed. Common sense, I'm sure, for most people, but an entirely worthwhile new habit for me. The difference it makes is amazing.
I've actually grown quite fond of my little kitchen. Time to go fix myself some breakfast there - and thank my husband for choosing such a perfect home.