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.
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