Whether you eat at your dining room table, your kitchen table or a bar you need to be able to find it to eat there. Is your space having an identity crisis? Is it a collector of things? Things like the mail, receipts, school work, newspapers, magazines, telephone messages, work papers, scrapbooking supplies, groceries, keys, coats, jackets, collections, scarves, gloves, groceries and the list goes on and on. No wonder these areas have an identity crisis.
Okay so you want to reclaim your eating space, here are some solutions to finding your table again and keeping it clutter free.
Make a goal---what do you want this space to do for you?
o If you want a table that stays clear of 'stuff' like mentioned above one idea is to keep it set with a nice table cloth and place settings of dishes and silverware so it is not as likely to be dumped on.
o Do you want this area to be one where family members or even unexpected drop-in guests can gather for a chat?
o Would you like a place for all the family to be able to eat meals together without the hassle every day of clearing a space, thereby cluttering up another place in the kitchen or dining room?
o Is this space you would like to use between meals as a place to work on hobbies?
After you decide what your goal is for your table then develop a strategy.
o Have a designated basket for mail. Take a moment to sort it and file it as it comes in. If you don't have time right then it can stay in the basket until you do make the time to sort it. This basket does not go on the table or counter.
o Set up strategic baskets in the home for newspapers, magazines, books and other printed material that in the past came in contact with the table. Do not set something down where it doesn't belong thinking you will leave it there just for a second. All too often it takes root and lives there. If you don't have a place for the item, take a moment and make a place and take it to its home.
o Develop an area for children to call their own. Each child has her/his own place for backpack, lunch box, school work etc. Each child is responsible for making sure things are put there and stay neat and tidy. If you have to remove anything of their's from the table then they have to do a chore to earn it back. (Including the all important backpack and school work).
o A chalk board, magnetic board, or cork board can be used to contain memos, phone messages and invitations, displaying items everyone needs to see. For invitations I like to record the date in my planner and then file the invitation in my FreedomFiler system by date so I can refer back to it when needed and not clutter up space on a board.
o Have a pencil/paper box near the phone to write down messages and then put them on the message board or fridge (if you must) with a decorative magnet.
o If you use your table to do scrapbooking, working on collections etc., use a rolling file cabinet or cart to put projects on and 40 minutes before meal time whisk everything onto the cart or into storage bins, the ones with wheels are nice as they can be easily retrieved when necessary. This way you can still have projects out and handy but not cluttering the table. Teach children to clean up after craft time.
o Have a designated drawer as a resource drawer AKA junk drawer to hold rubber bands, bag ties, candle lighters etc. As you take off the twist ties from grocery items put them away immediately, don't place on the counter. These do not live on the table or counter.
o Every family member needs to know the expectation is to hang up coats, jackets, and to put away gloves and scarves in a basket in the coat closet. The same goes for sports assessories/equiptment. They go in their designated areas, not on the table or counter.
o Have a designated place for keys. A cup hook inside a kitchen cabinet is handy and practical.
o Designate a separate location for home-office needs. Even if you don't have an office, keep files and important papers in a separate area of the house.
Keeping the dining room, kitchen or the kitchen bar eating area free of clutter is a lifestyle. Set your goals, have containers available and assign items for different baskets, train family members and remember this is not a one time task. It is a system that is used daily or things take on a life of their own and quickly can pile up.
Bon a petit