In the old days, the kitchen was the domain of the wife, who was the cook and home maker. She very rarely tolerated anyone spending too much time in her space and guarded the tools of her trade fiercely. Fortunately, times have changed and both women and men share and enjoy cooking and spending time in the kitchen. In fact, in many households, the kitchen is the center of activity.
In a dream world, everyone has one of those huge kitchens that you see on TV shows set in big, fancy houses. The whole family can fit into the kitchen and no one gets in anyone’s way. Even the dog has room to frolic and play without being tripped over. Most of us don’t live in that dream world though and have to find a way to share a relatively small space without getting in each other’s way and on each other’s nerves.
Simple issues like who empties the dishwasher or who takes out the garbage can lead to arguments that are completely unnecessary. Often one partner feels unappreciated or taken for granted.
So, how can a couple work things out in the kitchen so that everyone is happy and feels like their space and efforts are being appreciated?
- First of all, everyone needs to agree to put kitchen implements back where they found them and to always shut drawers and cabinet doors. This way no one gets frustrated because they can’t find something or injured because they’ve banged their head or hip on a thoughtlessly left open cabinet.
- Wash cooking utensils as you’re cooking. This will dramatically reduce the mess to clean up after the meal.
- If two activities are going to happen in the kitchen at the same time such as coffee making and breakfast cooking. Agree in advance which parts of the kitchen each person is going to use and discuss the importance of respecting each other during the process. Often, just acknowledging that everyone will need patience at that time prevents arguments.
- Before preparing a meal, discuss what needs to be done. If it’s going to be a busy, complicated affair then the person who isn’t cooking needs to be supportive and understand when and if they will be a nuisance if they wander into the kitchen.
- Agree in advance who will be doing the washing up and loading the dishwasher. If you’ve agreed to do the washing up after a meal, even if you leave it overnight, make the extra effort to get it done before the other partner needs to use the kitchen the next morning.
- First thing in the day decide who will be unloading the dishwasher and when it needs to be done by. Make sure the dishwasher is always completely unloaded before dirty dishes will need to be added.
- If you commit to doing a task, always make sure that you do it before the other person feels they have to do it. For example, if you agree to take out the garbage, take it out before it starts over filling. Making something a routine can prevent arguments over these sorts of kitchen chores.
- If you have small children or pets, agree on rules about their access and behavior in the kitchen and support each other in enforcing those rules consistently.
- Some chores in the kitchen can be overwhelming. Work together big tasks, such as cleaning the refrigerator or emptying and cleaning the cupboards. It can be fun to do something like that as a team and stops one partner from feeling taken for granted.
- When you catch your partner doing something in the kitchen that’s not particularly enjoyable like peeling vegetables, show them some affection and let them know you appreciate it.
It’s up to you to decide whether you want your kitchen to be the place where happy memories are made or a focal point for arguments. Communication and appreciation are the keys to a peaceful kitchen. Oh, and cookies. Make lots of cookies.