Our last two homes have not had a dishwasher. After three years of living without one, I can honestly say that I am so used to it, it rarely phases me. While I often look at a pile of dishes and dread starting the job, once I am doing it, I usually don’t mind too much.
Over the years I have learned a few tips that make living without a dishwasher easier.
The first time we moved into a house with no dishwasher, I knew I needed to form some new habits to make life easier without a dishwasher. Instead of putting all my dishes together, I put two bowls, two plates, two glasses, and a set of plastic dishes for Stefan on one shelf that was easy to reach. All my other dishes were on a much higher shelf. These were fairly easy to access if I had company, but I would have to use a step stool.
This small step was key to getting me in the habit of not using too many dishes. Instead of pulling out a new plate or bowl each time I needed one, I was forced to wash the one that had been previously used.
2. Clean as you go.
I wrote awhile ago about the idea of cleaning as you cook. When you don’t have a dishwasher this is especially important. Earlier this week, I mentioned my rule of three as an easy way to simplify. If there are more than three things in the sink, I quickly wash them. This keeps things from piling up. Washing a couple of dishes takes just a moment, but when you let it pile up, it becomes a big job.
3. Focus your mental energy on something else.
For the most part, dish washing is a mindless activity. I love putting my mental energy elsewhere while washing dishes.
- Family Bonding: Often times in the evening, my husband and I use the time after dinner to wash dishes and catch up on the day. We try to keep dinner time a family conversation, but often I am eager to know the details of the progress on his thesis or other various things going on. Washing dishes together while our kids run around playing makes it go by faster, and we are also getting some couple time.
- Thinking: Thinking about life, memorizing a scripture verse, writing a blog post in my head, or praying, are some of the things I do while washing dishes. Some of my greatest times of contemplative and productive thinking have come while doing the mindless task of washing dishes.
- Listening: This is a great time to listen to an audio book, a podcast, or music. My husband often has an evening class one or two times a week which means our normal evening schedule is thrown off a little, and I can’t get to the dinner dishes until after the kids are in bed. This is my favorite time to get the iPod out and listen to something worthwhile. Often times I don’t stop at the dishes, and get the floors mopped too when I have something really good to listen to!
4. Just Start.
The time I dread the most without a dishwasher is right after a big, more involved meal with company. Think Christmas or Easter here. This is the hardest time for me to get going, but here is where I have learned to just do it! Sometimes I tell myself to just wash dishes for 10 minutes, that’s it! Often times that is enough to get me going. Other times I am so tired after a big meal that I have to do several 10-minute increments. Eventually, though, I get the job done!
5. Reward Yourself.
If it is a really big job after a bigger than normal meal, I like to reward myself. A simple reward of 10 minutes to read, or sitting with a cup of coffee, or a slice of leftover dessert is motivation to get the job done! It may feel like a big job, but it feels much worse to have an unfinished job hanging over you.
What are your tips for keeping up with the dishes?