About a year ago, a friend of mine had her third baby in as many years.
No sooner was the little guy born than her husband’s job underwent a significant change. He was suddenly required to travel and be away from home all week, every week.
Two major stressors collided.
I asked her how she was doing a few months in to this new life. She referenced my blog and explained, “I’m surviving through living simply, just like you say.”
I wanted to hear more.
“Well,” she went on, “For example I put three plates on the counter. Every time we use them, I wash and replace them to their spot. We don’t touch the other plates. My girls (ages 1 and 2), each have one cup. That’s it. We take care of those cups because I got rid of all the others.”
“It’s made life easier,” she finished. “We’re actually making it.”
How interesting that what we may imagine to be more work actually became part of a successful coping strategy for a mom in a hard spot?
I’ve found much the same thing.
I love my dishwasher, but as an unfortunate result of always having one, I failed for many years thing outside that box and consider the best way to run my home.
Many times I stood before an overloaded dishwasher, or run out of a utensil before the cycle’s been run, and felt a bit helpless. It sounds silly, but this system had been the only one I’d ever really known. It’s where I felt comfortable –rinse the dishes, load them in, run the cycle, unload and repeat. That’s just what I did.
Hand-washing sounded like downright hard work!
So when my system began failing me, I didn’t like my other options. I resisted them as long as I could.
I began running the dishwasher frequently to keep up. Rinse, load, run, repeat.
However, somewhere along the way, I set up a dish drainer and bought a new soap-dispensing scrubber. Somewhere along the way I had the dawning realization to hand-wash our cups, sippy cups and kid plates. Somewhere in there I began to think outside of my 21st-century helplessness and consider other options for my dishes.
And you know what? My life got overall easier!
- I wasn’t running the dishwasher at odd times of day. I was able to establish a clear daily routine –run it at night, unload it in the morning.
- The things I frequently “ran out of” were now always clean and ready for me.
- I wasn’t loading and unloading the thing all the time. That’s work too!
- My “dishwasher dishes” actually fit nicely and came out more clean.
You’d think all that hand-washing would be a burden, but it wasn’t. In fact, it felt like less work than ever, and my personal satisfaction provided extra motivation.
Could this be a solution for you as well?
Here are some examples of how I use hand-washing:
How I hand-wash dishes to make life easier
About a year ago we made the decision to invest in Tervis glasses and get rid of all our mismatched odds and ends. Tervis are nice because they’re durable plastic, insulated, quality, and still look decent. They met all our needs in one glass.
But, being plastic, I knew they would keep better if hand-washed. So, I committed to doing that, and we bought them! The amazing thing was, this relieved a burden rather than creating one. Suddenly my whole top rack filled up in proportion to my bottom rack and we always have the glasses we need. Only eight sit in our cupboard, and that’s plenty!
In my home we eat breakfast in shifts. At this point in life (with all preschool-aged kids), everyone sleeps as late as they want. When each one wakes up, they’re given a bowl of oatmeal of cereal. First me, then Matthew, then Clara.
As crazy as this may sound, we all share one bowl and spoon! I wash it after each use and refill it for the next eater. So by the end of breakfast, instead of a pile of dishes I have two!
Over months and years, we’ve lost all our sippy cups save for one. And we’re down to only two small kids cups.
Because we have so few, I can’t let them sit around in a dishwasher all day. By hand-washing them, we always have what we need without keeping a bunch of odd cups around.
Pots, pans, knives, and odd items
These are all things my husband taught be to hand-wash when we got married. And truly, this is a good way of doing things. You don’t have to keep as many of each item around, they stay nicer longer, and they don’t stress the dishwasher space.
As you can see, this philosophy creates more opportunity for minimalism. When you hand-wash, you ultimately don’t need as many of things.
I know this sounds counter-intuitive to some. If that’s you, I challenge you to try it.
If you feel hand-washing will save your sanity as it has mine, I recommend making the small investment to get a good system going. The first two items I recommended will cost about $10 and are tailored to washing a dish here and there rather than a big lot all at once.
Read about other ways I’m learning to stay on to[p of my home here:
Do you have an effective dish-washing system? If so, how do you do it?