Kitchen Counters and Sink Part Two: The Challenge

Continuing Organized Tuesday  (whoopsie), we’re into the planning phase of the project of the week. I like this. Our brilliant hostess over at Home Storage Solutions 101 is seriously like a therapist for the organizationally challenged. How’s that? Before you start acting like the mayor of Crazyville (there can be only one, so don’t be me, okay?), she tells you to THINK about what your end goal is. You can’t organize a room if you don’t know how you’re supposed to be organizing it, right? Common sense? No. We live in Crazyville. Common sense doesn’t exist in Crazyville. We need people like Taylor to tell us to think about what we’re doing before we do it. Oh, admit it. You do too. So I am telling you: FOLLOW THE DANG STEPS. They’re there for a reason.

The steps?

  • First, The Brilliant Lady says to “think about the functions of your kitchen.”  Uhhh. It’s a KITCHEN. Oh no, darlings. It’s so much more than just a kitchen. What do you do in your kitchen?

    – I eat in my kitchen, sometimes. Sometimes I eat in the living room. Sometimes I eat on the run. But there’s a table in there that is, ostensibly, for eating.
    – I make food in the kitchen.
    – I STORE food in the kitchen.
    – I enter the house through the kitchen. This means that I usually also dump whatever I am carrying in the kitchen. What? You do too, and you know it. Don’t judge.
    – I LEAVE the house from the kitchen. That means that I grab whatever stuff I am taking with me from the kitchen (and then I run through the house for fifteen minutes trying to figure out where in God’s green acre I left the blasted freaking no-good miserable cussing keys THIS TIME. Don’t pretend you don’t know EXACTLY what I mean.)
    – I’d like the kitchen to be the homework area, but it’s NOT yet. YET. YET. 
    – I store all my basic home cleaning supplies in the kitchen.
    – Life organization happens in the kitchen. Calendars, chore charts, reminders of stuff we have to do for school, all of that happens in the kitchen. Most of that is stuck on the fridge with magnets.
    – I really like coffee and tea. I mean REALLY. LIKE. COFFEE AND TEA.

  • Next, we’re told to “Create Useable Counter Space And Clear Your Kitchen Table (Mostly).” That’s……doable? Right?
    Y’all remember by before-before, RIGHT? Let me remind you some more.
    kitchen before 2Remember, I have a year in between these two pictures, but there was still kind of a lot of clutter on my counters day-before-yesterday. I worked fiendishly, took a bunch of pictures, and texted my friend, “WHY do I never take before pictures when I go on crazy sprees like this?????” I never remember. Ever. But I made a pretty usable space on the counters, and the table is cleared off, minus the pretty things that live there and a gift bag in a chair.

    There are some REALLY good details of HOW to clear this stuff off on the challenge site, but here’s the basics: get the stuff that doesn’t mesh with the use of the space out of the space, then declutter the stuff that DOES go there. Bike helmet, out! Why on earth do I have THREE potato mashers?? Seriously??????? No kitchen sheers (til last week. Thanks, Santa-Dad!), but THREE potato mashers?

    I did some clearing and decluttering! I have been driven crazy for two years by the medicine and vitamins being stored on the kitchen counter. THEY’RE GONE! Boom! They’re hiding in baskets in drawers of the changing-table-cum-storagey-thingamabobber that you will meet later in the kitchen challenges. I left the weekly pill organizer that Roo uses. I need to find a similar organizer for my stuff. Right now, my stuff is sorted into sandwich baggies in the little treasure chest looking thing the boy and his karate-teacher-best-friend haven’t finished painting me for Christmas yet (ADD meet ADHD. Enjoy.)
    PicMonkey CollageMUCH more functional. My drill doesn’t live there, but I wasn’t done screwing the handles back into the upper cabinets yet, and I had JUST hung those lights, so, I hadn’t moved it yet. The crock pot doesn’t live there either, but it’s a couple of soup nights right now, so there it is.

  • Steps three and four were sort of combined for me. Storage solutions and developing a habit of clearing the sink of dishes twice a day. I try to keep it clear of dishes all the time. Try to. We’ll keep working on that.

So what’s next? Well, we tackled a lot of the big challenge, and that feels pretty good. But, you see, my she-ro over there is a GENIUS for real. We don’t JUST have the 52 weekly challenges. No. That’s not ENOUGH for some of us. Some of us are real clutterbugs, packrats, THE MAYOR OF CRAZYVILLE. I have a clean sink. I have some nice counter space. But I still have a hot mess, in all likelihood. What? You know you stash-and-dash too! You KNOW you do it. So, there’s also a series of 365 decluttering missions, which, miraculously, are arranged right along with the weekly challenges! Wonders, I tell you. WONDERS!

In the schedule that contains the sink and counter challenge, we have the following tasks, which are meant to be done in fifteen minutes or less:
– Read Organized Home Challenge Week #1: Kitchen Counters
– Declutter kitchen utensils and silverware drawer
– Declutter and organize kitchen sink area
– Clear off kitchen counters
– Clear off kitchen table
– Declutter everyay tablecloths, napkins and placemats
– Declutter potholders and kitchen towels

So that’s my to-do-list this week, other than the regular chores and routines. See you next Tuesday with pics.

How’s it going for YOU? Let me know!


The Chore Board

My friend Arlie asked me to blog about our ticket system and chore board. So, here I am.

We’ve had some behavioral challenges around here, and your standard fare punishment is not enough for the little man of the house. Neither is the standard fare positive reinforcement system that I’ve always known.  We had a disorganized system of rewards and punishments, but it was, as noted, disorganized and chaotic, and thus, useless.

We’ve also had issues with chores. Wee Man wants to get paid for his chores, and I love paying him for chores. The problem is that the money just isn’t always there for it. And it gets EXPENSIVE paying a kid every time he does a single chore. Also, who REALLY keeps rolls of change around?

We’ve had issues with screen time, which is related to behavior and to chores. He would grab my tablet, often without permission, and start playing Angry Birds before doing chores, and he would yell and scream and cry when he was told to turn it off. It was really ugly.

So we had to think of something else!

We went to my sister’s house for my dad’s birthday, and she had the lovely chart made for her kids. It gave them a limit of screen time, and they had options for earning more time on specific days (my nephew can earn extra screen time only on weekends, and never on school nights). I liked it. A lot.

Apparently we had both seen the next one on the internet.

A box.

A box that holds things that the children left lying around the house.  If it’s still there after the child is told and reminded to put it away, it goes in the box, and they must do chores to earn it back.

So a system was born.

I got a bunch of tickets from my mom, who picked them up at School Box. I bought a magnetic dry erase board at the dollar store, and I re-purposed a magnetic coupon holder. I got some baskets and an empty opaque tote out of my storage room.


The white board gives him a limit on his screen time and is updated during the day as it is earned. Screen time is limited to one movie and half an hour of game time in a day. I have to count it in movies, because I do not have a subscription television service, Netflix, Hulu, or anything like that. Rather, we have a bunch of VHS tapes.

Below that is a behavior tracker. Smiley faces are for good behavior. Frownie faces are for bad behavior. At the end of the day, we do some subtraction.  Smiles minus frowns equal tickets.

Next is the chore chart. If he completes his daily chores (in orange) he earns one ticket. He can also do any of the “high value” chores, which are worth one ticket each.

Once he gets tickets, he can trade them in for special things. Three tickets equal one item from the “blue box.” Five tickets can be cashed in for a slushie from Slushie Gary (like the ice cream truck, but better!) on Saturdays. One ticket can be traded for five minutes of tablet time.

Now, tablet and TV time can be taken away. If you’re able to read the picture above, the game box says “Mon. 4/22.”  He told a lie at his baseball game on Monday, and lost the tablet for a week.


Daily Chores:

  • Take out trash
  • Water for the dogs 
  • Feed the dogs (once. I feed them breakfast; he feeds them dinner)
  • Clean your room
  • Put away your things
  • Get the mail 
High Value Chores
  • Do the dishes
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Put away your laundry
  • Vacuum the floor
  • (not on the board: he can dust, clean the fronts of cabinets, sweep the porch or patio, etc.)
Put Away Collage
I do my blue box a little differently. I have baskets in the kitchen. These are called the “put away” baskets.  As I am cleaning up, if I come upon something that needs to be put away, it goes in the basket. Yes, one of them is mine and contains purses and shoes! These are separate from the “put your things away” chore, in that “put your things away” tends to mean “put away the stuff you got out” and these things, for whatever reason (perhaps that we both have ADD) aren’t included in those items. Just go with it.  
Anything left in the basket for more than two days goes in the blue box to be earned back by exchanging tickets.
Anyway, that’s the system. Tickets can be earned for exceptionally good behavior aside from the smiley face chart as well.
It’s simplified things quite a lot, because it’s just all there in one place, and it’s consistent without having to try too hard. It just IS consistent. When he can see what time he’s allowed to ask for screen time, it stops some of the arguments. Once school work and chores are done, the screen time chart is updated to show him how much time he is allowed.
And I am all about simplifying!