clear counters, clear mind

Clear your kitchen counters.  You will feel different.  In a good way.  In about 20 minutes.

Do you have people coming for Christmas and you're kind of stressing about getting the house ready?

Or are they already there, and you're feeling bit overwhelmed?

Or do you want a blank slate for calm or fun or peace or jingle-jangle?

Skip vacuuming the rugs.

Clear your kitchen counters instead.  Not cleaN (though that'll happen, too).  CleaR.

Depending on how much stuff you have on there, it'll probably take you anywhere from 20 minutes to a half-hour.

Here's how:

  1. Take every single thing off the counters.  Yes, even the coffeemaker.  Yes, even the dish soap.  Yes, definitely the random drill bit that has been there for two months.  (True story.)
  2. Wipe 'em down.  Don't go crazy.  Don't get perfectionist and procrastinate by getting out a Q-tip to clean out tiny crevices of yuck.  Just a simple wipe-down, please!
  3. Put back only the things you use every single day and aren't easily stored in an accessible cabinet or drawer.  For us, this is six things: the coffeemaker, the paper towel holder, dish soap, hand soap, a sponge, and a Brillo pad kind of thing.  If you use it every day, but you can find a close cabinet for it (like our basket o' vitamins, for example), put it in the cabinet.  If you don't use it every day, but you don't have room for it in a cabinet or pantry, see step 4.
  4. Put everything else that was on your counters away in a cabinet or drawer, get rid of them, or stash them in a closet until you can deal with them post-holiday.  (I wouldn't usually advocate the stashing part, but the goal for this is getting you some clear space right this minute.)
  5. Admire.

As the person who does most of the cooking in our home, my husband will tell you that having clear kitchen counters can change the entire way he feels about starting the day.  Or about making a meal.  Or just about getting a glass of water ("cold water and with a little bit of ice, please") for our child.

It takes away forty-two distractions that are whispering (or sometimes yelling) things for your to-do pile...

Legos?  Need to put those away and model better putting-away habits.  

Bills?  Remember to pay those by Friday.  

Kitchen Aid mixer?  I should be making homemade pasta like I always planned I would when I had my own place.  

Free t-shirts and coozys from your twentieth high school reunion?  Ought to respond to Facebook post about the high school friend who's moving back and wants the scoop on area schools.

Please be kind to yourself, and get those things off your counters for the holidays, won't you?

Give yourself a little extra space to make a meal (or unpack some take-out!) for your loved ones, mama.

PS:  I clearly grew up in North Carolina because even after those five years in Chicago with lots of snow in my twenties, I was so excited to see snow flurries here in NC this morning.  With three of us sitting in our pajamas by the Christmas tree and watching my daughter as she watched it fall, I was certainly reminded that we can still have a beautiful end to 2014.