I’ve been thinking.
It happens when I do dishes.
The thinking thing, I mean.
Somehow, with so many dishes to do, thinking just sort of … takes place.
I HATE dishes. I always have. My dear friend Reta says that when you have such strong feelings about something there is usually a boundary being crossed, either by you or someone else. So I got to thinking… Why do dishes frustrate me so badly?
I’ve been avoiding asking myself that question for years by stuffing the dishwasher as full as possible. But after trying to wash the same load of dishes 4 times, then trying to wash a different load of dishes a few times, I’ve disheartenedly decided that the dishwasher is no longer. and now I’m 7 loads of dishes behind. It still resides in our house… Until Ranger gets around to removing it. And we’ve decided that it’s just not worth getting another one right now. Mostly because it’s a crutch. And I don’t need crutches in a healthy lifestyle. That’s not the only reason, but it is a main factor.
The dishwasher is a crutch because it hasn’t done a good job at teaching our daughter how to do the dishes herself. It hasn’t taught the family to take care of their own plates after they eat. It has made it so that if something happens and the dishwasher doesn’t get started, I’m left with a huge mess of dishes in my sink and sometimes they’re not very pleasant.
I’ve learned that if you find yourself in an all-or-nothing state of housekeeping, then something is out of balance. Life shouldn’t be a pendulum. And neither should dishes.
So now I’m left asking myself why I hate dishes, and what the boundaries are, and what the balance is. And I don’t know. But I do know that it’s not all my job. Hence why my family shouldn’t have let me do dishes. Suddenly I realize all the boundaries that I let slide. Dish-doing is usually the time I’m left pondering the things out of balance in my life, and how my family should be stepping it up, and how I should not let them get away with it so easily.
Last time I had to hand-wash this many dishes, I decided that I’d set a boundary that I wouldn’t cook in a messy kitchen. To me, that’s a very reasonable boundary. Sanitary. Much saner for me. But that boundary isn’t adequate without others in place, because instead, we’re all just left hungry.
Now that there’s no dishwasher, hand-washing dishes gave me time to think about how I really feel about dishes (as I’m washing them… after they’ve been sitting there for much too long. Do I really need to explain how I might feel about them?).
My brain made bullet points, so I can’t think of another way to write it:
- 8 is totally old enough to wash dishes; and to wash them well, given enough practice.
- I always feel like he who makes the mess cleans up the mess, but when it comes to dinner, that’s just not fair. If I’m making dinner, I should not have to clean up after it too. Cleaning as I go, fine, whatever, but cleaning AFTER I just cooked for a whole family? Not fair.
- Assigning nights to do all of the dishes never works, at least not in my experience. Someone always gets the short end of the stick. And it leaves little room for accountability.
- When my brother lived with us last time he was good at washing his dishes… just not washing them to my sanitary satisfaction… you know, with soap. And he’s moving in again a matter of weeks.
- I hate when dishes get left and the’re nasty. I know, big shocker, huh? But if I hate it so much, why does it happen so often?
So.. with those thoughts streaming through my head, I began to focus on kitchen boundaries.
- I will fill the sink with soap and water for breakfast and dinner.
- If you use a dish, wash it. I have a right to clean dishes. You have a right to care for yourself.
- If you eat here, you have a responsibility to clean here. Each night, someone will be in charge of putting away the dishes washed before dinner (that are now dry. If you live here, you have a responsibility to know where things belong), and washing the remaining dinner dishes (aside from the plates used by individuals and the utensils I washed as I was cooking; this will mostly consist of serving utensils and pans).
- Each morning, I will put away the dishes. I have a right to work in a clean kitchen.
The interesting thing is, those arent the only boundaries I realized were lacking in my life. I realized that I let my sister take advantage of me. I realized that I need to set up boundaries with my friend. Doing dishes sure gives you time to put your life back into perspective. Maybe I should have spent more time on dishes lately?
But I am curious. [question]What have you guys come up with to solve the dish quandary? How to you prevent dishes from backing up? What is you’re routine? [/question]I’ve never been good at staying on top of dishes so I’d love to hear any tips and rhythms that worked for others. Am I missing something?