Dish Duty 101 - It Works in Our Home!

“Who’s doing the dishes tonight?”

This question has been asked too many times in our home! And when it’s asked, no one wants to volunteer the answer!

Even with fancy chore charts and creative ways to teach kids about responsibility, Paul and I are still looking for “new” ways and ideas for simplifying chores in our home. I bet most families in America struggle with this as well – dishes, that is!

A few months back, I talked about our family coming together for a meeting to discuss house rules, chores and allowances. Each kid came prepared with a clipboard, a pencil, and was asked to take notes. They then typed up individual contracts, signing them, and agreeing that they would be responsible and work toward their allowance each month.

A few readers asked me if I would share what the contracts included. To respect the privacy of our kids, I won’t do that (even tho they were so darn clever!) but I will say that each contract had to do with cleaning the pool, mowing the lawn, cleaning the bathrooms, making beds, practicing violin, picking up Haggis doo-doo, pulling weeds, etc. One thing that has worked fabulously for the last two months is what we call: Dish Duty 101!

At the beginning of each month, we write the kids’ initials on each day of the calendar. This has eliminated the conversation about, “whose turn it is to do dishes?” Each kid knows that if their initial is on the calendar, then it’s their responsibility to do dishes for the entire day! They know to check the calendar daily, and they know if they are going to be gone, to ask a sibling to cover for them.

I’ve had to get over the dishes not being done perfectly, or things being put away like I would prefer. My hubby has helped me learn to not overcorrect the kids if dishes are not done perfectly. (Isn’t that our job as mothers? To constantly correct? Not!!) I’ve learned to come along and say, “good job!" and it actually feels really good. And I’m thankful for their effort and willingness to work together.

The contracts are hanging by the calendar now and the kids are in the habit of checking daily if it’s their DISH DUTY day. Trying to keep the flow of the kitchen moving in a smoother fashion – alternating the kids and teaching them about Dish Duty 101 - works great for our family!

What do you do about dishes in your home?

(Above photos are taken from our strawberry bed in our backyard! We’ve never seen so many strawberry blossoms – which is good news! A BUMPER CROP OF STRAWBERRIES! Our bed is about 8 x 24 feet (for those interested). We purchase a few new plants of “ever bearing” strawberries every spring, planting them between the old ones.)

One of our favorite family traditions of eating strawberries is to dip them in sour cream, then roll in brown sugar. YUM!

And my husband ordered me a “surprise” from Gurney’s Catalog. Does anyone want to guess what came in the mail, to be planted in our garden?


Classic MaMa said...

We only have two kids, one too young to attempt dishes. We have a standing rule at our house that whomever cooks, does not have to clean. Since I usually cook, My husband usually cleans, or fills the dishwasher. When the dishwasher is ready to be emptied, Scarlett (she's almost 10) knows that is her job. She cannot wait for the day when her baby brother gets this chore.

An Ordinary Mom said...

It sounds like you have a found a good system that works in your home.

Right now our kids aren't quite old enough for dish duty, but I recently read a parenting book, "The Parenting Breakthrough" by Merrilee Boyack and I plan to implement a lot of her "training" exercises.

Susan said...

I had three kids and homeschooled, so when our kids were all at home, each week the kids each had one meal per day - breakfast, lunch, or supper - and every week they rotated. I forget now which way we rotated, but they knew and could still probably tell you now! LOL Everybody hated having supper dishes, but loved lunch. The two who weren't breakfast cleaned the bathrooms and vacuumed/swept floors.

Now, my oldest is in college, so I do breakfast dishes every day. The other two rotate lunch and supper each week. However, our second son is going away for the summer, and there will just be one child at home. Hmmmm . . . maybe she could do all the dishes and learn a lot about being a mom?! ;) I think we'll probably just work together!

Tammy said...

It's good to have a system in place so that Mom is not constantly the "bad guy"...always reminding and sometimes nagging!

My girls are not ready to do the dishes quite yet, although my oldest is getting close. But they do have special chores...in our house what works best is the chore ticket. My husband got this idea from somewhere and then tweaked it...they earn special treats for the week by doing chores. My eight year old can sweep, and even my youngest has been vacuuming since age 5 since we have the kind that is lightweight and the handle goes down to her level! :)

Dawn said...

That sounds like a great system. I look forward to my kids being old enough to do the dishes.

Heidijayhawk said...

love your ideas as always!

Andrea said...

My oldest is getting to the age where she should be starting to do some chores -- I can't wait to get creative! Sounds like you've got some good ideas.

And those strawberries...DELISH!! But -- sour cream? Really??

ValleyGirl said...

My 6 and almost 4-yr old always want to help with the dishes, and I tell ya, I usually don't want their help very badly! I try to make sure there are never terribly many dishes and then I don't mind as much if the job takes three times as long as if I'd just do it by myself, but I still don't let them help as often as they'd like (or as often as I probably should!).

We just started with a chore chart though so that we ALL know what's expected of us throughout the week. It's a bit of a novelty NOW... we'll see what the girls think of it in a few months!

OKGardners said...

I enlarged that photo and the box says: Ginger Root

Is that what you got?

By the way, chores are good for kids to help them become responsible adults. After all, they will have DISHES to do for the rest of their lives.

Betty in Oklahoma

A Woman Who is: said...

One of my biggest frustrations in having the kids help with the dishes, and or husband for that matter (sorry dear) was that they were not always very gentle. I went through a couple of set of stoneware, in two or three years when one day at a specialty kitchen shop, I heard the sales gal talking about these restaurant grade dishes. They were just what I was looking for white with embossed edges. They looked elegant and stylish, and were extremely durable. They were not corning ware, which I know also doesn’t break, just not my style.
15 years later, I still have these dishes. One dish out of 20 is chipped and one broken cup handle. Not bad for all the usage they have had. It certainly helped me get over my anxiety when the family was doing the dishes!
I also bought the sturdy thick French glassware ;)
Oh I just looked at the back of my dishes…Homer Laughlin, Best China U.S.A

I could use a new set mmmm

As far as the duty itself, I cooked hubby did the dishes. When the kids were old enough they helped him or he supervised. As the kids got into highschool it was much more difficult to maintain a schedule, with school, sports and or jobs. It became who ever was home helped.

I like your intial calander idea!

Fuschia said...

Our oldest three girls (we have five) do ALL the housework...obviously with my supervision and reinforcement:)
Each week the older two rotate (girl #3 is not quite ready for dishes). So one does the "loader" duties for a week, and one does the "unloader" duties for a week.

Nadine said...

The initials is a great idea. It's funny how its the simple things that work best.

Jen said...

I love strawberries so much. We go pick them every year.

Stephanie said...

Not that I want my kiddos to grow up too soon, but I am eagerly looking forward to the day that they start regular dish duty! At their current ages they put their dishes in the sink, and my oldest is starting to rinse hers. So we're getting there!

Washing dishes is one of my most loathed household tasks. God has blessed me with a very sweet husband who, accompanied by our electric dishwasher, clean up many of my messes.

Good for you and your family for giving the children responsibilities around the house!

Mrs. Jules said...

This is probably one of the best ways of holding everyone accountable. We used this system when we first got our dog and it worked well, but have recently gotten away from it. My husband and I could easily implement this with other chores, also. Thank you!

Chris @ Come to the Table said...

This is a great idea. We have tried different things to and then it seems it ends up back at me.

My favorite is when we all work together, one clearing the table, one putting away, one sweeping, etc., but it doesn't always happen.

The strawberries look fabulous!

Sharon said...

Growing up-there were five kids in my family-three girls and two boys. One night the girls did dishes, the next night it was the boys turn. Worked pretty good for us.

Stephanie said...

We just planted our berries, this weather might not be working in our favor tho.....
We have tried the berries in sour cream and brown sugar- that is sooooo good !! Everyone should try it!!
Have a good evening !

GiBee said...

Hmmm .... what are the seasons for "ever bearing" strawberries??

Sgt and Mrs Hub said...

I started doing dishes when I was 9 years old - I remember not being able to WAIT until my brother was old enough to do them too. My mom did the every other night thing - my brother and I alternated. It worked pretty well, as far as I can remember.
As for chores, they were always part of my life - my mom started us young - and I am so thankful. Whenever I have worked for someone else I have always done very well - I think because my parents instilled a great work ethic in me, started from very early years.


Sandy said...

Yes, it's GINGER in the box! We've never grown ginger ... so we'll give it a try! :)

Kathy in WA said...

Sandy - I meant to write earlier but ran out of time. I stumbled across your blog somewhere and have been enjoying it greatly.

I have five children (5 to 14) and we are constantly striving to keep up with housework. It's amazing how messy things can get in such a short period of time.

I wrote a
Works for Me Wednesday
post about how we handle housecleaning (including dishes) a little while ago.

Basically I have the entire house divided into areas and each child is responsible for their area (and daily dish duties) for a week. After a week we rotate. The two younger children are "buddies" to the older ones.

It's working beautifully and I only have to call out "Life Skills" and the children zip off to tidy/clean their assigned area.

Thanks for the great conversation!
Duckabush Blog

Dave said...

I like it! In our family, dinner time is very important. Generally, we treat "clean-up" as an extension of our time together and laugh and talk and even rough-house a bit. Usually, it's dad and the boys on clean-up duty.

Here's another idea for helping with chores: We designate Saturday as "family day." There is amnesty for chores on family day. However, on Sunday, we have POWER HOUR. Power hour usually only takes one hour. Mom is exempt. During power hour, dad and the boys can usually straighten and clean the entire upstairs half of the house. We go like mad to pick everything up, change bedding, vacuum, dust, and clean the bathrooms. It really takes a load off mom for the week.