Disclaimer: This post was written long before COVID-19 came and rocked our world. At the time, being a Stay at Home Mom felt like a challenge unique to one group of people. Today, we can all relate to the tireless kitchen cleansing routine, so it felt like an appropriate time to share my thoughts on improving your quality of life “in the kitchen” – even if you don’t love to cook.
Here’s the thing, I do not love to cook. I do not love to clean up the dinner mess. I do NOT enjoy prepping meals whatsoever. But guess what, this is now my full-time job. Nope, I’m not a chef. I’m a Mom.
I used to love baking, but after my husband begged me to stop (while we were dating) for the sake of his waistline, I somehow lost all my baking abilities! (See the Spicy Pumpkin Bread Disaster if you don’t believe me).
I could claim that NYC made me this way: great takeout, small prep spaces and limited hands for groceries kept me from truly refining my culinary skills – but if I’m honest with myself (and you) I’ve always avoided cooking “meals.”
I’m a snacker. I could live on hummus and carrots and pretzels all day everyday. Here’s the thing, kids are snackers, but husbands — well… husbands like to have “dinner.” A featured meat and sides. Legit. Have I mentioned I was a vegetarian for 10 years?! Guys, I’m so under-qualified for this, it’s not even funny.
When we were newly married my husband worked late and we rarely ate together so this wasn’t really an issue. Then we had our first baby. Suddenly my hubby was coming home by 6 to see the baby before bedtime and I realized “family dinnertime” was now my nemesis.
Thankfully, I can recognize my insufficiencies and knowing I was barely capable of taking care of myself and a tiny human, I begged we grab takeout many nights, or ran to the grocery store at 5pm in a panicked attempt to pull something together (often from the prepared salad bar) moments before my husband arrived. Let’s just say I was barely keeping my head above water.
All of this to say, when we moved to Charlotte and I finally had a large kitchen, a pantry, an island, a garbage disposal, and a normal sized fridge…the jig was up. It was time for me to learn to make dinner. No good takeout in a pinch, the grocery store was close – but not a 5 min stroller ride around the block. I was stuck.
Here’s what I can tell you about being a SAHM in my 5 short (and oh so long) years: you spend your whole, entire day in the kitchen.
- Prepare the breakfast.
2. Serve the breakfast (or just down your coffee) while you beg your children to put their pancakes in their mouths at a faster pace – or we’ll be late for school!
3. Clean up breakfast: dishes, table, faces and fingers. Don’t forget the floor! Let’s be honest … I always forget the floor. (I need a dog!).
4. Clean the counters where you prepared the food. About this time, someone wanders in to ask for a snack. (You can imagine the face I’m making at the gall of this child’s untimely request).
5. AND Repeat. Breakfast, Snack, Lunch, Snack, Dinner (and preparing school lunches after bedtime!) It’s a hamster wheel people.
Nap time used to be my “kitchen reset” time, but I often needed to prep dinner while I have full use of both hands and no toddler clinging to my legs or reaching for the knives and stove. Mess on top of mess raises my blood pressure, but for some reason I was putting off the kitchen mess as long as possible. And let me tell you – cleaning it up after bedtime is the LAST thing I wanted to do at the end of a long day.
I simply wasn’t motivated to clean my kitchen. It took me a while to realize what the heck was wrong with me. Even when everything was in its place, the counters were wiped clean and the last plates put away – my kitchen didn’t feel clean! It didn’t feel “happy.”
Why was I working so hard for results that are meh at best?! How can I make a space that makes me smile when I’m in it, and especially when I’m finished cleaning it?
I realized this was the root of my problem:
A SAHM (Stay-At-Home-Mom in case you needed that breakdown) needs to feel productive and inspired in her workspace as much as any other professional.
Cleaning my kitchen over and over, when it never feels clean or polished despite all my time and effort is exhausting and defeating. The entire house is a challenge to keep clean and neat, but the kitchen feels like my personal home office. I needed a way to find JOY in this workspace! (and this little sign about dancing was just not cutting it.
So how did I fix this problem?
You know me…I found some inspiration and pulled out a paintbrush.
Basically, I made an even bigger mess! But this time, it was a productive mess – at least that’s what I told my husband.
I only had nap times and bedtimes to make progress, so it was a slow-moving project. But hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and little by little I was seeing my vision come to life.
I already showed you how I removed the odd yellow/brown color combo by painting the yellow island, dish cupboard and wine rack. (See post here).
Now I was ready to tackle the rest of the cabinets and find some inspiration in my own kitchen.
See below for the inspiration photos I used for my (mostly DIY) kitchen renovation. I promise the next post will be full of my own photos and less of my wandering thoughts! The kitchen reveal is finally coming your way!