Saturday, April 7, 2018

Taming the Kids' Dishes

I actually enjoy doing dishes. Most of the time. The warm water. The clean kitchen afterward. It's rewarding to me. But that doesn't mean I want to be doing dishes all the time.  During the school year, I have very little time at home with my family. As much as I like clean dishes, I was saddened by the fact that I had to say "No" to other things to get them done. Yes, ideally, my kids should be doing all the dishes by now. But due to our season in life and our daily schedule, that's just something we can't do right now.

A few months ago I finally got fed up with the amount of time I was spending on dishes, and I took a drastic step--I donated all the plastic kid dishes.* Seriously. We had about a dozen Pampered Chef plastic plates and various Ikea kid dishes. That was one of the problems. We had too many dishes. With so many dishes in the cupboard, the kids felt like they could get a dish out any time they wanted. We had trained them to rinse their dishes and put them in the dishwasher (or the sink if the dishwasher was full/clean/running). But I still spent so much time unloading the dishwasher, hand drying the plastic stuff that didn't dry in the dishwasher, reloading the dishwasher, and hand washing all the dishes that didn't fit in the dishwasher. With our crazy schedule, there were always dishes in the sink.

"I donated all the plastic kid dishes."

With my cupboards empty, I replaced the old kid dishes with nine new kid dishes. Each of the younger ones has exactly one plate, one bowl, and one cup. These are the only dishes they are allowed to use. After each use, they hand wash, dry, and put their dishes away. Each kid has a different color so there is no arguing about who left their dishes out or who forgot to clean theirs. Keanna is old enough to use the real, grown-up dishes so I didn't buy her a set.

"Each of the younger ones has exactly one plate, one bowl, and one cup... After each use, they hand wash, dry, and put their dishes away."

Kid dishes go in the lower cupboard for
easy access by little people.

I bought these at Target for $0.79 each. They have a lot of color, size, and style options. All of them seem to stack very easily and neatly.

There was some whining and complaining the first couple of weeks, but now they know what is expected and they do it with happy hearts. An added bonus is that they kids now think twice before using any dishes. It is very rewarding to see my kids learn the skills they will need as an adult and take ownership over a small part of dish duty. And it's nice to be able to spend time the extra time doing things with my children.

*I actually did keep a few of the old plastic dishes for when the nieces and nephews and neighbor kids are here,but they are out of sight, out of reach of my children. I am considering getting rid of those and getting a few more sets of these Target ones in a different color.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Backpack Storage

Why do we put up with inconveniences or inefficiencies for so long before we act upon them? My latest "Finally!" moment dealt with our backpack area. In my mind, my children would come home from school every day, neatly line up their backpacks against the wall under the chore chart, hang their coats in the coat closet, empty their lunch bags and return them to their backpacks, and my nook would always stay picture-perfect clean. Yeah, I'm not sure whose kids were in that fantasy. Or which mom, for that matter. The truth is that if I reinforced it everyday, it could happen. But after a l...o...n...g day of teaching, being the backpack police is the last thing I want to do.

About six months ago, I was looking at the backpack hooks at school. "We should do that at home." Six months ago. Yeah. I knew the solution but had just gotten so used to putting up with the chaos that I didn't act immediately. Well, the latest Costco coupon book lit a fire under me. They currently have a 2-pack of hook racks for $14.99!!

That price was just too good to pass up. I may end up grabbing one or two more before the coupon ends on April 8. Unfortunately, this product is only available in-store.

The box includes the screws and wall anchors for hanging. And although the enclosed directions were less than helpful, it only took me about 20 minutes to get these on the wall, including trips to the garage to get supplies. The directions say you only need a pencil and a screwdriver--that's a lie.

Tools needed:

  • pencil
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • level
  • drill and bits (I ended up using the largest drill bit I could find. Sorry, I don't know what size it is.)
  • hammer
  • vacuum

To get enough room for three backpacks, I hung both racks side-by-side. I also hung them into the drywall only as the holes did not line up with any studs. Regardless, they are solidly on the wall, and I have no fear of them falling with the weigh of the backpacks.

Since hanging them up, I have only had to remind one child one time to hang up his backpack. The hooks themselves are a reminder of where school things belong. And my boys have commented about how much easier it is to get things in and out of their bags when they are hanging as opposed to sitting on the floor.

Another bonus: I can more easily sweep/vacuum the floor in this area.

When summer vacation comes and the backpacks go into storage for two months, these will become our swimming lessons/pool bag hooks. We're all looking forward to that!
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