• These days, with four kids in the house, it feels like my life revolves around housework. Between cooking, cleaning, making beds, helping out with homework and etc., it seems like I have little to no time for myself. Some parts are enjoyable, while others are downright draining and tedious. I’ve consolidated most house cleaning chores into one day a week by recruiting the help of other family members. Not too shabby! However, it seemed like the bulk of my time was still spent in the kitchen with the endless influx of dirty dishes, cleaning up and preparing food at all hours of the day. Of course, we had scheduled meal-times every day, but inevitably one child or another would miss a meal or wanted to eat something else.

    I tried playing hardball and closing the kitchen during off hours but that wasn’t realistic. Often it was their fault, but occasionally it wasn’t, if they had lessons or other priorities scheduled outside the house. None the less, it meant that the kitchen had to be opened 24 hours a day. Not only did I have to prepare the meal and clean up, but it was extremely distracting when I got pulled away from whatever else I was working on. There were projects that I wanted to pursue and I simply wanted time for myself. It was out of control and my husband, who is in the military and worked odd hours, wasn’t helping the situation. So, I got smart and typed out a list of Kitchen Rules (listed below), which I laminated and posted at the entrance.

    Kitchen Hours of Operation: 24 Hours

    Breakfast: 7:30am – 8:30am

    Lunch: 1130am – 12:30pm

    Dinner: 5:30pm – 6:30pm

    ** Staff is available to assist only during the above-listed hours. Kitchen-use during off hours is permissible provided you follow the Kitchen Rules below.**

    Kitchen Rules:

    1. Parents have priority in the kitchen and may revoke your kitchen rights at any time.

    2. Don’t make or leave a mess! Clean up after yourself and put items where they belong. Clean all appliances after use. None of them are self-cleaning (the self-cleaning function means that I have to do it).

    3. Do not put back empty containers. Replenish supplies and write down depleted items on our grocery list.

    4. If you want something that is not on the menu, put in a request or make it yourself.

    5. All items in the kitchen are public domain and shared by all unless clearly labeled otherwise.

    6. Bonus Points (redeemable for special treats): Empty the dishwasher and put away the dishes; Throw out the trash and replace trash bags; Act like you appreciate that you have have food and have someone who prepares it for you.

    7. Follow the rules or I’ll start doing a lot less around here, so you can fully appreciate how good you have it!