In high school and college, I waitressed off and on to earn money for tuition and spending. When running an efficient restaurant, as soon as one party leaves, the table must be cleared and the station cleaned so it can be sat for waiting guests. The waitress may remove some dishes, but the duty primarily falls on the busser. The busser promptly clears the table, putting the dishes in a dish pan, and taking them back to the dishwashers.
If the floor is quite dirty, it must also be swept, and the table must be wiped down. After the last guest leaves, and the restaurant is preparing to close, waitresses must do their closing duties in their station: restock salt and pepper, sugar, make sure everything is arranged on the table properly, and sweep, so the janitor can mop.
Following the restaurant model at home can help us run highly efficient and tidy kitchens. The problem is, prepping the meal, serving the meal, clearing the meal, washing dishes, drying them, putting them away, sweeping, and mopping is--in a restaurant--not a job for just one person. It is exhausting. That's why restaurants hire several people to perform the differing jobs. Yet, at home, Mom usually gets stuck with doing it all.
So the first step in following the restaurant model at home is getting your husband on board. At my house, the guys usually help some, but then retire to the living room to relax while I am in the kitchen, bussing my station. I presented the idea to my husband that if everyone worked together to essentially "bus the kitchen," it would be much cleaner consistently (and besides, I could really use the help). Having him on board is crucial, because he can help direct the boys and keep them on track when they want to run off and play.
Despite their young ages (5, 3, and 2), all of my children are highly capable of helping. They already take their plates to the counter, but now we are requiring more. Two nights ago, my five-year old helped me dry and put away non-breakable dishes, and then we all took cloths (which I wrung out beforehand) and wiped down the table, chairs, any spots on the floor, and any dirty spots on the wall. I have to say that after all that work, the kitchen looked amazing!
I love the look of home ec kitchens. The counters are spotless, always ready for the work of meal prep. Once finished, all dishes are washed, dried, put away, and the work space is immaculate again.
By following the idea of bussing your own station (your kitchen) with your helpers, you can have an immaculate kitchen too! When the space is clean, it is much more inviting and much easier to cook and bake.
After the kitchen is clean and closed, my husband leads the boys in picking up their toys. Sometimes, he'll even vacuum the living room. :) I'm trying to be better about making sure any laundry in baskets in the living room are put away before day's end, too. All of this is helping keep it tidier around here. It takes a lot of discipline, but it sure is nice coming into a clean kitchen in the morning!
Do you have an evening routine you follow after dinner? What does yours look like?
There are more ideas of evening routines in Large Family Logistics and also a general routine here:
I am grateful for a cleaner kitchen!
(Linked to Gratituesday).