In the kitchen, I am like Yertle the Turtle from the classic Dr. Seuss children’s book. Yertle is the king of his pond and yearns to increase the size of his kingdom. Unhappy with his current situation, Yertle decides to raise the height of his throne by insisting that every available turtle (commoner) climb one atop the other. Finally, when perched high above the pond, Yertle proclaims he is ruler over all that he sees (me in “my” kitchen). In the story, he only gets to celebrate a moment of success before he and the throne of turtles come tumbling down.
I’m fortunate to share a kitchen with family members who enjoy cooking and appreciate good food. Over years of cooking, I’ve come to realize that I am a visual organizer. I like and need things where I can see them, reach them, with some kind of order. It’s my way of being efficient. I’m in great company. I’m looking at you, Isaac Mizrahi (@imisaacmizrahi), with your multiple containers of cooking utensils on display conveniently located above your range.
Yet, here is my quandary. We have two knife storage systems in place. One is for our collection of large chef-style knives mounted on a magnetic knife bar on the wall beneath upper cabinets; the other, a relatively new addition, is a universal knife block that rests on the counter for our collection of smaller paring knives. The large knives are easy to see and locate quickly. The smaller knives are merely identified by their handles since the tips sink into the holder.
The problem is that knives in the countertop block never make it back to the exact location that they came from. Hence, it slows me down and frustrates me when I’m in my prepping zone and need to stop what I’m doing to locate the knife I need. My system, based on visual cues, is failing!
I am grateful for my family members’ help sharing the daily chores, especially putting away the clean dishes. But…from my vantage point, there is room for improvement. After all, it’s not the big things; it’s the cumulation of little things that aggravate over time.
I accept total responsibility for this minor annoyance. And I will need to come up with a solution lest I go crazy!
Here are a few of my options:
- Start by communicating and pointing out that something is amiss in the kitchen. What seems obvious to me is not noticeable to others. After all, they are putting things away. They’re trying. They did what was expected.
- Let it go and give in to the disarray, knowing everyone organizes differently. Having me cross over to the dark side and join them will waste a lot of time I don’t have. It won’t fix the problem.
- Suck it up and continue my daily ritual of quietly grumbling while putting things back in their (my) proper place. Frustrating, yes. The path with the least resistance? Absolutely!
- Show people where things belong, my system, and why, which may work temporarily but not permanently since people are typically in a rush. Bonus: I get to watch their eyes glaze over as I read their minds labeling me a nitpick.
- Create a new system so obvious that there is no doubt where something belongs. It has potential, but it will require more work, planning, and thought on my part.
- Banish my family from the kitchen, and do everything daily myself. This will result in bad feelings on my part and cause them to kick up their heels with joy.
It’s not that my loved ones are being mean or intentionally evil (most of the time); it’s just not top of mind for them. I may need to work with them to find a compromise or a different system that will be easy for them and give me the desired order.
For now, unlike King Yertle, who ordered his turtle subjects to comply with his whim, I’ll begin with the quickest routes (for me) to success— I’ll communicate (ask nicely), show them my system, and see how it goes.
Sometimes, we forget that when we share a kitchen with others, it’s important to consider their habits, patterns, and organizational styles to make the kitchen a fun and functional place for all. Coming up with easy-to-follow systems goes a long way toward keeping the family peace, at least in the kitchen. And if all else fails, hug them, tell them you love them, and send them packing (just kidding). Simply try a different approach until you find a workable solution for all.
How do you handle small kitchen annoyances in “your” kitchen?