Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but dishes certainly aren’t.
In fact, dishes tend to be one of the first things people tell me they struggle with. (Isn’t it nice to know you’re not alone?)
But worse than having a pile of dishes in the sink, is having a pile of dishes in the sink and no dishwasher. I know – I’ve been there.
How in the world do you keep up with the dishes and keep up with the kids?!
Well, I have a trick. But you knew that, didn’t you? I mean, why else would you be reading this post? Seriously!
So, let’s take a look at what’s going on with the pile-o-dishes.
We want food. We want yummy food. We make food, we eat food, we…want to do something else now. Dishes are not fun.
So we go off, because things are pressing, we have a lot going on, the baby is crying, and the dishes can wait.
Two days later, the dishes have escaped the sink and are now covering the whole countertop.
So you set aside a couple hours to hand wash all those dishes, which also means you have to dry quite a bit of the load because there isn’t room for them to air dry, am I right?
Then you burn out! You don’t want to wash another dish. So what happens after the next meal? The dishes don’t get washed.
It’s a natural cycle, and not one to be upset or feel guilty about. These negative feelings cloud the real issue and keep you from finding a solution, because they make the solution feel like it’s all about willpower, and I’ve already covered that in another post. So put that guilt away, and let’s really look at the issue.
One of the first things to look at if there is an area of your house that has trouble is your amount of stuff. Right now, you have so many dishes that you can go for multiple meals without having to wash anything. That is the first reason things get out of hand.
The second reason has to do with your routine. When you have to spend a ton of energy getting back to where you want to be, it’s natural to go through burn-out, which leads to a strong desire to never touch another dirty dish. Get a good routine going, and you’ll avoid the burn-out phase. No, I’m not talking about washing every dish before they touch the sink, because with a family that’s just plain illogical, but there is a middle-ground that works quite well.
First off, let’s look at your dishes. Think about your meal goals. You want to be sure you can’t make a huge pile of dishes that spills onto your counters, right? At the same time, you want to have enough for when guests come, right? So what do you do?
Well, first you need a type of box – something to store what you will want to get out when guests arrive.
Next, figure out what it would take for your family to eat breakfast and lunch (how many bowls, plates, spoons, forks, etc.), and put them on the counter so you can take a good look. Would that also be enough for dinner if they were washed? If so, leave the pile as it is. If not, add the few items you would need for dinner.
Then, put the rest of the dishes and eating utensils into the box and put it somewhere that isn’t easy to get to, but isn’t hard either (that little cupboard over the refrigerator tends to be a good place). This way, when guests arrive you can get the extra things for them, but it’s not a temptation to get out the extras just to avoid doing the dishes.
If you really love this idea and want to go to the next level to keep your kitchen running smoothly, get another box and put the extra cooking things that you hardly use away. Why have them clutter your drawers if you only use them twice a year?! But this step is optional.
Next, let’s get a good routine. This needs to be something that works well for your family and is doable, not something that is perfect. This can change as the needs of your family change.
People just starting on a good hand-washing routine are usually pretty overwhelmed by the prospect of this, so I try to keep it simple. Just wash the dishes twice a day: after lunch and after dinner.
In our home, dinner is a big deal. We cook from scratch, so the amount of dishes that need to be washed after dinner are usually equal to or greater than the dishes it takes to do breakfast, lunch, and two snacks! By washing after lunch and after dinner, the washing load doesn’t seem that huge. It’s very doable without feeling like I’m doing dishes all day long, and it’s usually enough for the drying rack.
At the very least, this routine is a starting point. Do it for a few days, or even a couple weeks, and see how it feels. By having a place to start, it’s easier to feel where things need to be adjusted. A larger family may need to wash the dishes more often. A smaller family may need to wash the dishes less often. Dietary needs may change things. Everything is unique to you, that’s why I talk principles and not hard-fast rules.
Remember, if you need a place to chat and get more ideas, you can always join my facebook group, Domestic Ninjas. That way we can all share knowledge and insight, and any answers I give are available to all. It’s really the most efficient way to get in touch with me now outside of scheduling a clarity call!
So go forth, conquer those dishes, and always remember to have fun, find the joy, and love those kids!