Last week our dishwasher began rinsing with chunky, mustard-yellow water which then pooled in the bottom of the machine. Hubby attempted to fix the problem to no avail and I descended into minor panic mode. I can’t keep on top of the endless piles of dishes, pots, and cutlery as it is and now I would have to wash them by hand?! But then as I stood amidst the greasy towers upon the counter I had an eureka! moment. (Ah, how slow we sometimes are.) What if we used only enough plates and bowls as there are members of the family and, gasp! wash them by hand immediately after each meal?
As Hubby and I washed and dried and put away every last dish we became more and more attracted by the idea of only using a minimum of crockery. He wanted to go as far as physically banishing all the extras and have only a set of four available. But this I refused. I love dishes! I love mugs! I love pots, dutch ovens, tea pots, bowls… antique or modern, pottery or ceramic… love ’em. And I like everyone to eat from matching sets. I even check to see which coffee mug Hubby had taken out for his morning beverage to ensure I choose its mate. And if my mug is pottery then my cereal bowl must be too. But if my cup is the bright yellow one then my toast plate is also bright yellow.
I also like looking at my colorful dishes so for Hubby to suggest they be packed away was just too big a request. He compromised and we put all the extra dishes on the top shelves. And we started fresh. Empty sink, empty counter, organized cupboard. Ahhhhh.
And what a difference! While I have sacrificed using my other precious dishes what I have gained is so much more:
1. Only a handful of dirty dishes in the sink at any one time, not piled high in the sink or overflowing onto the counter because the dishwasher hasn’t been run or emptied.
2. A chore that is finished in 10 minutes – including washing the cooking pots – rather than the half hour it used to take to empty and reload the dishwasher.
3. A Hubby who willingly washes the dishes because, compared to loading the dishwasher to his wife’s (insane) specifications, it is fun.
4. Sparkling clean nails.
5. The wonderful relief of walking into a clutter-free kitchen every morning.
6. One less overwhelming chore to stress over.
I never thought I would be happy for my dishwasher to break down. We still have it and we’ll get it fixed for the next dinner party. But for now I am more than happy to have it sit there empty and redundant. I even taught my kids the “proper” way to “do the washing up” — a game for them (oh, that it could stay that way through the teen years!) and I was relaxed enough to let them play.
This was a simple change with a huge pay-back. I can still enjoy my crockery as decor but it is not taking over my kitchen, my life, or my sanity. And maybe eventually I will be able to let some of it go – do I really need three different styles of ice cream bowls? – but for now I’ll bask in the new simplicity.
Now I just need to figure out what the hell to do about the five baskets of clothes spilling out the laundry room door…
Journal Prompt: “The one thing I could do today to make my life a little less stressful or overwhelming is….”