How We Keep Our Kitchen Safe and Organized with Kids
Don’t hate me, but my kitchen is pretty organized despite 2
tornados kids! 😛 With the chaos that comes with work, raising bilingual kids and homeschooling, I need my kitchen to be therapeutically neat. Since, we try to involve the kids with cooking (and they tend to follow me around), parts of the kitchen are safe “yes” spaces.
I’ll take you on a tour of our kid-friendly kitchen and share where everything is from! This post excludes our pantry which I’ll show in the future.
More tips for creating a prepared environment at home:
- Kids Art Cart, Storage System, and Organization Tips
- How We Organize Our Bilingual Montessori Homeschool Materials
- Homework Organization for Elementary Kids: Before and After Pictures!
5 Benefits of a safe and organized kitchen with kids
Before delving into the the daunting task of organizing the kitchen with kids running around, keep in mind these benefits that makes the effort worthwhile:
- Safety – I need to know that my knives, bleach, and other hazards are far away from my kids!
- Optimizes storage space
- Saves money – Everything is visible so we know what we need. This prevents us from buying duplicates or tools that don’t fit
- Saves time – It’s easier to find what we need
- Paves the way for the kids to contribute with cooking and clean-up!
First step to creating a safe and organized kitchen with kids
As with any room, the first step to organizing a kitchen is to remove duplicate, broken, and rarely used items. Let’s be honest: how many more #1 mom coffee mugs do we need? If you’re not sure where to begin, check out my free starter guide to decluttering with kids.
Read this: Learning How to Declutter After My Immigrant Mother’s Sudden Death
How we keep our kitchen safe and organized with kids
- Kids water and snack station
- Kitchen sink access for kids
- Kitchen tools for kids
- Drawer organization
- Lower and upper cabinets
- Pantry organization (soon to come)
- Cleaning supplies for kids (soon to come)
Kids’ water and snack station
This side table has been a life-saver for parenting and contains 3 main daily needs:
- Self-serve water
- Help yourself snacks
- Cleaning basics: kitchen napkins, tissues, and towels
See the full tour and rationale in this post about Kids Water, Snack, and Self-Care Station Makes Life Easier for Everyone.
Note that if you don’t have a side table, you can use a tiered rolling cart (similar here and here) or put a tray on the counter.
Step stools versus kitchen helper (learning tower) for kids
I spent a long time debating between popular kitchen helpers, also known learning towers, versus regular stepstools.
Ultimately, I was concerned about space and my kids outgrowing another toddler item. Initially, we had bad luck with the Kidcraft step stool. My daughter fell off of it several times due to the slippery finish and putting her foot in the gap at the back of the stool. Plus, the stool also cracked!
So around 6 years ago, I ended up splurging on these Serena and Lily teak step stools! It’s been the best investment that anticipate all of us will use for many more years! But keep in mind that the cost is similar to a kitchen helper. If you have more space for a child under 3 years old, it may be worth getting the learning tower!
Anti-fatigue comfort kitchen floor mat
Almost 1 year ago ago, we replaced our tattered floor rugs with super comfortable anti-fatigue comfort kitchen floor mats (grasscloth java color). Since my husband is always barefoot, he wanted to get this to make cooking and washing dishes more comfortable. Although I always wear slippers at home, these cushiony mats help me, too.
Kitchen sink and dishwasher
These faucet extenders were very helpful when my kids were younger!
Also when my kids were babies, we used our countertop to keep drying dishes out of reach:
Now that they are older, we use our dishwasher as the drying rack; we prefer to keep our counters clear. We’ve since given away our over-the-sink rack so that we have one less thing to wash!
As for sponges, we are hoping to transition to eco-friendly options. Currently, I have been cutting large sponges into thirds so that they last 3 times as long. But I have bookmarked the following options and would love to hear if you have tried any of them:
- Scotch-Brite Greener Clean Sponges
- Natural Plant Based Biodegradable Scrub Sponge
- Swedish Cellulose Sponge Cloth
As for soap dispensers, the sleek-looking SimpleHuman brand has been a hit-or-miss over the years. Of the many that we purchased, some have lasted for 7 years while others have died. I don’t plan on buying more as we are trying to limit products that use disposable batteries.
Kitchen drawer organization
Nothing revolutionary here, but we use a wood cutlery tray and have sections designated for our kids:
- Forks/spoons/knives – we love the Kiddobloom brand! However, we do not recommend the Pottery Barn set as the plastic handles have all faded after a few years.
- Chopsticks: mini bamboo and training set
- Nylon knives (similar here)
- Reusable silicone straws
Knives and cutting boards
Organization and safety is especially important with this drawer. Here we have:
- Bamboo knife organizer block
- Victorinox Swiss Army knives:
- Crinkle cutter
- Leaf herb destemmer
- Mini shape cutters (similar version here)
- Bamboo drawer divider
Towels, oven mitts, aprons
Kitchen towels, oven mitts, and aprons are kept in the above drawer.
These bamboo drawer dividers fit well in our shallow drawers, but otherwise, our kitchen tool drawer has been a struggle to declutter!! I’m laughing at how many spatulas we’ve accumulated when my mother pretty much used 1 pair of chopsticks to cook everything! I just want to show that it’s normal for organization to be a work-in-progress.
Kids’ kitchen cabinet the “yes” space
One lower cabinet is designated for my kids’ dishware and to-go containers. On the top row, I added removable bilingual Post-It tape labels so my kids would know where to put things back. If your kids are younger or not yet reading, you can use picture labels.
- Large acacia bowls
- Divided wood 5-part platter
- My mother-in-law’s handmade ceramic bowls, plates, and cups!
On the bottom row, we have the kids’ snack and to-go containers organized in baskets:
- Lunch Bots bento food storage
- Round food storage
- Sistema food storage
- Silicone Stasher bags; we use the snack size most often and prefer the clear color
The adjacent low cabinet houses the kids’ felt Chinese dim sum toys, mini kitchen cooking set (pots and pans, utensils), and play dough tools.
Kitchen plates and bowls organization
This part of my kitchen makes me so happy! These silver cabinet shelf organizers make it easier to grab the small and large plates we need.
Note: Although I would prefer to have much fewer plates and bowls, my mother-in-law is a ceramic artist and has gifted many handmade dishes.
Kitchen glassware organization
As with the dishes, we use the same silver cabinet shelf organizers to maximize space for cups and glasses.
We’ve had the general same dishes and glasses set up for about 6 years now!
Spice rack organization
This lazy susan and this turntable have made my spice rack and other kitchen condiments easy to find! Condiments are in this cabinet since it’s close to the stove, and I used painter’s tape to make removable labels in our minority language, Chinese. For round surfaces, I recommend painter’s tape because it has more grip compared to Post-It tape.
We also keep our visual timer right on this countertop!
Kitchen pots and pans organization
Organizing our pots and pans involved much trial and error. After returning a fancy-looking rack that failed, this $10 bamboo plate stand saved the day!
Here’s a better view of the back of the cabinet where we keep our lids! Various baking pans rest vertically as well.
Kitchen tupperware organization
Here’s where we store our glass tupperware and mixing bowls. As with our kids’ lunch box cabinet, we use a basket to organize loose lids.
Kitchen baby-proofing: safety cabinet locks for kids
Cleaning chemicals, medicine, knives, and fragile objects should be kept outof reach from young children. To keep the kitchen safe from life-threatening hazards, safety locks are recommended to block cabinet access.
- Safety straps (similar here): In the apartment that we rented before our current home, we used adhesive safety straps since we were not allowed to drill in the furniture.
- Magnetic safety locks (similar here): These options generally require drilling. Since the lock is hidden on the inside of the doors, this is the most aesthetically pleasing option. It’s also effective, because “out of sight, out of mind”. When my kids couldn’t see the lock, they give up after realizing the door wouldn’t open.
Modern tiered plant stand
Last but not least is our beloved bamboo plant stand! Ours is from IKEA, but you can find similar options here and here. We aren’t great at keeping plants alive, so here are the last 2 standing!
Above the plant stand is a cardboard Chinese character cut out: 春 (chūn) which means spring! I was inspired to make this after seeing wooden diamond-shaped 春 decorations in a Singaporean design store.
Hope you guys enjoyed our kid-friendly kitchen tour, safety, and organization tips!
I hope this helps and would love to hear which organization and storage solutions was useful or not for your family!