Our Clean Kitchen Answer (Or Reflections on Chaos)

Apr 9, 2013 | A Well Kept Home, On Motherhood | 21 comments

“I don’t know how you do it with four, and one on the way.  I have one and I am loosing my mind.”
Someone said this to me about three weeks ago.  I stuttered.  I didn’t know what to say.  It’s not like I have NINE children.  I mean, anything you say is just going to make someone that says something like that feel bad.  Unless someone is truly coming to you for mothering/home management advice I suppose it’s just better to make some sort of gracious smile in that situation.
I’ve lost my own mind many a time.
But… I will share with you that this mothering/homemaking thing… I take it VERY serious.  I think it’s a wonderful… and even GLAMOROUS life.  Yes, glamorous… I suppose I should write on that…
Dishes storage – old Parisienne Farmhouse Christmas 2011.
I’ve had some pretty chaotic moments since moving out to this farm.  Today, I’ll share with you about my kitchen.  Charming, lovely views, full of life and… 20 hours out of 24 – messy.  And that is SO not my style.  Things just got away from me… all those horrid weeks of morning sickness and my new adjustment to NOT having a dishwasher.  I used to SWEAR by my dishwasher.  I HATED washing dishes and I had such a lovely system in place at the old house (not saying my kitchen didn’t have it’s days – it surely did) but oh, that dishwasher could hide a multitude of sins.
Here, I have this HORRID RED SINK.  I hate it.  This crappy old faucet.  I hate that too.  And the task of dishes.  Lot’s of them.  And not just dishes but pots and pans.  Oh, the agony of it all.  And nevermind the four little munchkins that can get as much food on the floor as they can into their mouths — ok, not all four of them, but the baby.  GOOD GRIEF!  What a PIGGY!  On white floors no less.  
 Gray/blue fauxed cupboards (and un-finished shelf above:) New Parisienne Farmhouse.
There’s been lots of tension around the messy sink.  It’s practically impossible to get the whole kitchen cleaned up and start school on time (never mind running to the loo to puke in between plates).  So, nothing would ever get done to completion – after all, there were spelling words to do.  Then, a few subjects later I would have to jump up and begin lunch among the half, or onequarter cleaned up kitchen.  (No PBand J here – Lunch is our biggest meal of the day since Joel is not here for dinner).
I had no solution but KNEW we couldn’t go on like this much longer.  I just love a clean house and will confess, I can be quite a be-atch when the mess starts to get to my self-esteem.
Then… by the GRACE of God I had some time to read a blog I really enjoy the other day (On Just a Couple of Acres) and a solution that I KNEW would work for our family was presented.  It’s been three days of this – which means we have done it 9 times.  Hubby loves it, the kids love it and I am one Happy Momma.  That is, till I walk into the laundry room – that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.
Talk about WANTING to put your dishes away – friend Susan’s crystal cabs in the butlers kitchen/pantry.


 Yeah.  Need I say more.
Here is what we are doing —

Our kids LOVE classical music – this is something that pleases me so much.  (And thank God no one in the house would know a Justin Beiber song if it fell from the sky and smacked them on the head right now — Though I will confess, I am itchin’ to check out the new J.T. album).  I digress.  In school we lightly study a new composer every three weeks or so. 
I say lightly cause they are just 7, 5, and 3.  
In our family there is music playing a-lot.  Whether it’s George Strait, Pink Martini, Old Hymns or Mozart — and we do a lot of “time limit” types of things with the kids.  “Please go tidy up your room, you have ten minutes” or “Let’s see how fast we can put this stuff away”.  So I knew this idea would gel with our families mojo.
Here’s what we do.  
After dinner everyone hops up and begins working.  (Now we aren’t doing this the second the last fork is put down – we sing hymns together and make the children linger at the table so we can visit, but at a certain point “family table time” is finally over and we get to work).  Our kids were used to saying “May I be excused?” and then clearing their plate but that just wasn’t enough.  So now, we hop up – I walk over to YouTube, crank the volume and start our song – a classical song, lasting fifteen minutes.  
Though we studied Tchaikovsky at Christmas (Nutcraker and all) we are using the 1812 Overture WITH CANNONS to kick off this new family habit.  The song is fifteen minutes, eight seconds and after nine times everyone knows it by heart.  Someone washes, someone drys, someone puts away, someone whipes counters, the floor gets swept and if it’s the end of the day it gets moppedTowards the end everyone starts working like mad with those cannons blasting – it’s such a beautiful song and within 15 minutes our kitchen in presentable.  And really, thought I have hard core fantasies of my house being as organized and immaculate as my Moms, Grammas or Aunts appears to be –I know that this is not the chapter in my life for that – I have too many other joys and responsibilities BUT I do want it presentable at all times.  
I think I deserve that. 
 I think my family deserves that!
Joel insists that I go back to Quinn’s blog and leave a comment about how this has blessed our family.  It truly has.  We always gave the kids some part in the clean up (at the old house for example I stopped unloading the dishwasher when Aidan was five!) – but there is something about the absoluteness, how reasonable 15 minutes is, how motivating the music is that Joel and I believe is really going to stick and now they see all that goes into a clean kitchen.  It’s not just Mom banished to the task for an hour while everyone runs off to do their own things.  Subsequent meals have been on time and stress has gone down.  We are just thrilled.
Here is a list of music that Quinn put together (all about 15 minutes) and by all means, check out her blog and read the original post.
These are all links to Amazon but for quick music fixes we use YouTube all the time.
Rossini- William Tell Overture (13 minutes, maybe for really easy nights…. more motivating than opera)
Ravel- Bolero
Vivaldi- The Very Best of Vivaldi (Mix & Match… I couldn’t find anything about 15 minutes.)
Handel- Water Music
Paganini- Violin Concerto No. 2 in B Minor
Schumann- Papillons
Liszt- Ballade No. 2 in B Minor
Gilbert & Sullivan- The Mikado: Finale, Act One
Sibelius- Symphony No. 2 in D Major
Schubert- String Quintet in C Major
Verdi- Falstaff Act 1
Brahms- Sextet in B flat Major
Debussy- Jeux (Games)
Shostakovich- Symphony No. 8 in C Minor
Telemann- Overture in F Major
Joplin- The Entertainer (Mix & Match)
Sousa- Greatest Military Marches (Mix & Match)
Gershwin- Rhapsody in Blue
Copland- Short Symphony
Foster- The Songs of Stephen Foster (Mix & Match)
Here’s to a scoured (albiet horrid, red sink) 
and crumb free counters.
Much Affection,
Parisienne Farmgirl



  1. Mandy

    well, i confess i am a tad disappointed because i thought this would be the kitchen reveal! ha! i don’t and havn’t had a dishwasher for a long time. i’m not sure my hubby would go for this idea, but it couldn’t hurt! thanks!

  2. WhiteWhispers2u

    That’s fabulous how it’s working for your family.Yes what a blessing to be had.I hear ya if the kitchen is a wreck then you feel like everything else is just as bad.

    A clean kitchen makes for a not so mean Mamma!

    I hate waking to a dirty kitchen and I hate havimg my sink full of dishes and it still gets that way even with a dishwasher.

    I know funds are low but they do make dishwashers that you simply use as a chopping block on top and roll over to your sink and hook it up to the faucet.My mother had one growing up and I had one for 6 years in Montana.Works great! Just an idea for you.

    Though now your system is working for you so there may not be a need for a dishwasher now.

    ~Blessings K.Marie

  3. Karen Albert

    I am smiling just visualizing your precious family after dinner. Wonderful! I hope your morning sickness is over soon!

    Love and Hugs,
    Art by Karena

  4. Noël McNeil

    That sounds like a wonderful idea! I was just saying the other day how much I love my dishwasher…

    It’s great to see the whole family helping in cleaning up the kitchen. I have had the kids start to help me set the table and they LOVE it! I might have to put this in action too.

    Thanks for passing the idea along!

  5. Theanne

    you’re a marvel Angela…even though my household consists of myself and a dachshund (he’s to short to reach the counter but he could scrub the floor since he’s a long hair) I’m going to try listening to some of this music while doing housework…fantastic…and I love that your children are hearing all this great music!!!

  6. chilipowderinthepears

    What a wonderful idea! I love classical music and hope to implement this once my children are a little older.

    As for the comments people make to you about your having 4+ children, take it as a compliment. We’re just in awe at all you are able to accomplish!

  7. Christi

    A clean kitchen is key for me as we’ll – if my kitchen is clean, I “feel”like my house is in order & I’m a happy mama. Love these ideas – and Quinn’s blog too.

    On another note – on your FB page you’re posting updates to friend you at your “other” page – there is no other page that we can find. Can you please provide a direct link to the one we need to request?! I don’t want to miss you, but I (and lots if others apparently) can’t find the page you’re talking about! Thanks!

  8. Francesca Meazza Passionedeco

    Perfectly understand you: a clean kitchen (and home as well) make us Mammas feel so good!
    So, glad you’ve found what works for you!

    And, I was pregnant (second baby) till 1 month and 3 weeks ago. The new baby, another wonderful boy, is now with us. His name is Carlo!

    Blessings to you, your family and your “new belly”!!


  9. Mac n' Janet

    Great idea, may use it to motivate me, I don’t mind dishes, but there are several other things I hate to do.

  10. Susan Hawthorne

    Hey Ang- it’s wonderful you are enjoying family time at the dinner table. Even spend a little more, because those days go by so fast! I wish I could get them back! Dishes will wait forever- children won’t- they grow up! It’s wonderful you are teaching them the value of a wonderful home life.
    Oh- by the way- I have 2 dishwashers- and I still prefer to wash dishes by hand!!! They get much cleaner and shinier that way!!
    It’s a stress reliever for me- go figure???

  11. Deanna

    momma said there’d be days like this……..

  12. janet

    Great idea..Sounds like a lot of fun cleaning up this way..

  13. Amy @ Homestead Revival

    Don’t you love Quinn’s blog? We’ve done the same thing, but I confess… it doesn’t last 15 minutes. An HOUR and 15 maybe because everyone is breaking out onto some song and has to stop and pretend the kitchen is a stage and the serving spoon is a mic and the towel… well, all kinds of crazy stuff. We still do some of the classical stuff (1812 Overture is my favorite to get the blood pumping), but we’ve hit just about every genre you can imagine. I think they’re going to have some good memories someday. 🙂
    (BTW… with 3 girls, they do get older and I rarely do dishes at all anymore!)

  14. Violets Are Blue

    As it used to be and should be in every household. Mom and Dad are not there to serve their kids and do everything for them. Where do kids learn respect from how things are just done and no one asks or expects them to participate. Even though we have a dishwasher, the guys clear the table and take out the garbage, compost, if someone else is rinsing and loading. They also set the table and help prepare dinner in our house. Good for you for finding the solution in shared responsibilities and a way to make it work in a fun timeline! Patty/BC

  15. Carey

    Loving this! I’m so glad you shared this… definitely putting it into action here! Heading over to the other blog to see what other goodies can be gleaned. 🙂

  16. à la parisienne

    My mother-in-law is a pastor’s wife and has tons of traffic through her house, and she swears by setting a timer while doing housework. Working to classical music sounds much more enjoyable, but definitely effective.

    It’s great to teach kids from the start that everyone has a place in the home with a special duty to help. What a way to teach self-worth! I love how Amelia and other young children are excited to help with tasks. If a parents wait too long to insist that they help, that optimum time for teaching the heart is already passed.


  17. Julie

    You’ve just inspired me to clean up my VERY cluttered kitchen. LOVE the chandy, by the way.

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