Every night before I turn the lights off in the kitchen, I get back to kitchen zero. For me, this is just a fancy way of saying that I put everything back in its place, make sure everything is clean, and do any prep work for the next day.
I get back to kitchen zero every night for a few reasons. First, it might be nice to just get out of the kitchen right away after dinner, but waking up to a counter and sink full of dirty dishes, papers to put away, and no room at all for breakfast prep makes me immediately grumpy. Second, kitchen zero helps me make sure I’m ready for the next day so that I can jump right in or even be ahead of schedule, not behind.
So what does kitchen zero look like? For me, it’s something like this:
- Clear the table after dinner.
- Load the dishwasher.
- Wipe the dining room table.
- Wash any remaining dishes.
- Wipe the counters and stovetop, and rinse out the sink.
- Sweep the kitchen and dining room if they need it (most nights they do).
- Start the dishwasher.
- Do any food prep for the next day (pull meat out of the freezer to thaw, soak beans, and so on).
- Take care of any papers, mail, or Legos that have found their way to the kitchen counters.
It’s a long list, but it actually doesn’t take too long, because I have helpers. Matthew clears and wipes the table. Jonah loads the dishwasher (and he actually does this after every meal so that it’s pretty much ready to go after dinner). The boys each sweep once a week, so I don’t always have to do that either. And because I keep my counters mostly clear, it’s pretty easy to finish the dishes and wipe everything down.
I do a similar but not quite as extensive kitchen zero after breakfast, while the kids get dressed and watch their favorite show.
- Unload the dishwasher (Matthew puts the dishes on the counter) and put clean dishes away.
- Load the dishwasher with the dirty dishes from breakfast (Jonah does this).
- Wipe the table and counters off.
- Get the coffeemaker ready for the day.
- Do any food prep that needs to be done right away (getting a meal in the crockpot for dinner, anything to make lunch or snacks go more smoothly, etc.).
But the kitchen zero routine I have now didn’t happen all at once. I started with one habit, and then added on another, and another, until I had a whole evening routine. I started out just by making sure all of the dishes were done. That alone was a huge improvement to how I started my mornings, because the kitchen already felt ready to go. But each little thing that I’ve added helps get the kitchen completely clean and ready to start fresh the next day.
And by doing the same thing after breakfast, I’m setting myself up for success after we finish a homeschool morning and everyone wants a snack or lunch RIGHT AWAY.
Do you get yourself to kitchen zero? What’s one habit you could start today to help yourself wake up to a cleaner, more ready to go kitchen?