The Kitchn’s Spring Refresh Day 1: Clean Your Counters, Clear Your Mind

updated May 1, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Sarah Coffey)

Hello and welcome! Thanks for joining The Kitchn’s seven-day spring refresh. It’s sort of like a cleanse for your kitchen, but there’s no dieting or fasting — just a weeklong journey to a cleaner, calmer cooking space.

As a home-clearer, I teach mindful methods of clearing space — both internal and external. I believe our inner and outer worlds are connected, so when we change something in our physical environment, it has the potential to shift something inside, too.

That’s why we’re starting this program by clearing off and wiping down our counters. This small, simple task can open up space in our minds, too — space we’ll use to figure out what we want for ourselves and for our kitchens over the coming week.

It’s amazing how just clearing off a single surface can start a chain reaction, giving us the energy and sense of accomplishment we need to keep going. When I work with people in their homes, it’s rare to find someone who knows exactly what they want. Most people feel stuck and need help jump-starting the decluttering process.

That’s what we’re doing today — starting small, letting go (just a little), and setting goals to guide us.

1. Clear off your counters.

You don’t need to do a big purge; simply put away anything that’s out of place. Dirty dishes go into the sink or dishwasher, clean dishes into their cabinets, and stray tools into their drawers. Recycling, trash, or compost goes into its proper bin (and while you’re at it, maybe empty out that bin if it’s so full it’s causing clutter). As you’re working, make a mental note of anything that might help you keep your counters free and clear. Can you toss an old sponge or find a better spot for your cutting board?

2. Wipe down your counters.

You can use hot water, castile soap, and a sponge, or a great-smelling spray and a rag. Actually, with the right supplies, cleaning can be a very effective form of aromatherapy. (We’ll go deeper into ideas for refreshing your cleaning kit tomorrow.)

(Image credit: Sarah Coffey)

3. Grab a notebook and a pen, and set 3 simple goals.

Spend a few minutes in your kitchen, just noticing how it feels. What do you love about it? What would you like to change? Now, I’m going to be a bit didactic for a moment and ask you to write down three goals. This helps you put real intention into this project (but don’t get too perfectionistic about it — this is just a little warm-up writing exercise).

One goal should be for your body, one for your mind, and one for your soul — and you can interpret those three areas however you wish. The idea is to start connecting your space with yourself. Phrase each goal as an “I will” statement. (It’s the same concept that’s taught in high school writing — declarative statements give your essay purpose.)

Example List

  • Body goal: I will cook more healthy greens in my kitchen.
  • Mind goal: I will organize my cabinets so it’s easier to find things.
  • Soul goal: I will love my kitchen and use it more.

4. Let go of your list.

So often, we make these lists for ourselves, only to keep adding to them. When that happens, they become a way for our inner critic to keep us from actually getting anything done. So now that you’ve made your short list, let it go. Take a minute to just be present in your kitchen and observe what comes up for you next.

5. Make your mantra.

Out of whatever feelings arose after you made your list and let it go, write down one short “I will” sentence that gets to the heart of what you really want. It doesn’t have to reflect your highest goals and aspirations; it should just be whatever means the most to you — right here and right now.

It might be “I will love my kitchen and use it more,” or “I will have fun and learn from the process of letting go,” or even “I will make Thai food for myself by the end of this week.” It doesn’t really matter what it is, only that it’s something you’re doing for yourself. If you want, you can tear that piece of paper out of your notebook and put it on the refrigerator, so it serves as a reminder that you can keep coming back to throughout the week.

The purpose of all this is to (hopefully) put yourself in the context of your kitchen. When we let go of that long list of shoulds, what do we want for our mind, body, and spirit? And then, to simplify further, what’s the one thing we really want? When you pare back, you make space to invite new energy in and the rest will follow.