Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Doing Dishes

I was asked how we handle kitchen cleanup with so many bodies in our home.  I would love to (1) snap my fingers and have the dishes magically appear, clean, in the cupboards, or (2) have everyone just pitch in, without being asked, and help each other clean the kitchen, while singing songs in harmony and telling jokes.  Either way, 'tain't happening.

We have tried to have everyone help clean up, but the there just isn't room enough in our kitchen for that many people to work harmoniously (cancel the singing).

We assigned teams of two to take turns cleaning the kitchen after meals.  This worked fairly well, but there are always complaints from the harder-worker kids about getting paired with less-hard-workers, or about who cleaned up more.

We have had one boys assigned to clean the entire kitchen by himself.  This our most fair solution (and I'll pitch in and help the younger boys).  True, it takes a long time, but we know who is responsible for the work, they know they can't shirk, and you get the rest of the week off.

During the summer, the rotation of kitchen cleanup for all three meals runs into some uneven rotations.  Dinner is definitely our biggest chore, followed by breakfast.  Lunch is hardly a mess at all.  So here is our plan:

For breakfast and lunch, we all pitch in to help clean up.  The mess is usually minor, and we get done quickly. It is a good exercise in working together (this is theoretical.  In reality, we have several skirmishes through the course of the work.).  For dinner, each of the five older boys takes a turn flying solo.  It works pretty well, and they don't let me forget whose turn is next.

(Oh, and then after they are done, I sometimes go in and finish up the little bits they forgot.  Or call them back in to do it.  Sometimes multiple times.  I think I'll work on the magic snapping fingers trick.)

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