A few months ago, our dishwasher gave up the ghost. It had been making some awful noises for several months, and then just quit working. It was out of warranty and as we had recently updated some of our other appliances, we went ahead and got a new dishwasher.
Per usual, I spent a good bit of time researching online to find the right matrix of quality, brand, appearance and price and found a great deal on a very nice dishwasher. We had it installed a few days later and it’s been great – washes the dishes quietly and looks great.
But recently, I decided I wanted to try something different.
It always seemed like we couldn’t get on the right cycle of loading, washing, and unloading the thing. We always needed more forks or kids cups or whatever and someone was always asking, “Is the dishwasher clean?” I reasoned that by the time we rinsed and loaded the dishwasher, they were 90% clean anyway, why not just finish the job and move on?
So, I stopped using the thing. Instead I started rotating the kids through a cycle as my helper and washing the dishes after each meal. It was great. No stacked up dishes waiting to be loaded. Everything put away after washing. No wondering if the dishes in the dishwasher were clean. Everything was just clean.
So, hooray for productivity, but that’s not why I’m not going back to the dishwasher.
As I stood there and washed and my kids took turns drying, I found that I had their absolute attention. Drying and putting away dishes is boring work. They were dying to talk just to get past the boredom of it. And I started to find out new things about them – what they like about our homeschool co-op, who they’re best friend is, where they would like to live someday, goofy jokes they’ve heard or made up – all of this information. Not all of it is transformative or life changing, but it’s all part of their story. It’s like a little snapshot of where they are right now. And the funny thing is, they enjoy it, too. They’ll hem and haw a bit when it’s time to get started, but every time we wash the dishes, they end it by telling me how much they liked it. Who knew?
This parenting thing is difficult. Truth be told, I’m not all that great at it much of the time. But every once in a while I stumble into something good and this was one of those.
Have you stumbled onto something helpful as a parent recently? If so, leave a comment.