09 January 2012

Delegate after-meal cleanup with a homemade "Clean/Dirty" dishwasher sign

Homemade "Clean/Dirty" dishwasher sign

One of my ongoing goals/struggles is to delegate more day-to-day cleanup to the kids -- if not entire jobs, then parts of jobs. Delegation is one of the keys to an organized household (and to demonstrating that a tidy home is everyone's responsibility).

Case in point: the dishes. My kids are probably ready to take on the dinner dishes, but I'm going easy on them as we're still trying to find the after school balance between homework vs. rest/free time. For now I just ask them to clear their places at the table and to stash their dirty dishes in the dishwasher.

But we kept hitting the same roadblock: "are the dishes clean or dirty?" As in: are the dishes that are already in the dishwasher clean (so we should stack our plates on the counter) or dirty (so we can put them in the dishwasher)?

This question fills me with irritation for one of two reasons: the presence of dried-on food isn't an obvious enough indicator (WHY, KIDS? WHY?) or I've forgotten to empty the clean dishes from dishwasher (cue deflated sigh).

Amazon: Clean/Dirty Dishwasher MagnetMy daughter came up with the answer: a homemade version of one of those "clean/dirty" dishwasher magnets. I've seen these magnets over the years and wondered why anyone would need such a thing. Well, my kids do. And it works!

She put her art skills to work and turned an index card and a strong fridge magnet into a tool that has solved a problem that has plagued us for months. My husband waterproofed her creation using our beloved laminator.

She's proud of her work, I'm happy I no longer have to answer the "clean/dirty" question, and my plans to delegate all cleaning to my kids so I can take up my rightful seat on the couch are progressing.

HAND SMACK OF OVERCONFIDENCE: Turns out I wrote a hack addressing this very problem a year ago almost to the day (I told you we've been dealing with this for a long time!). I titled that hack "Never again will your kids ask 'Are the dishes in the dishwasher clean?'" Um, yeah.

More: Hacks about washing dishes and kids' chores

And: Uses for the personal laminator

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My grandmother used to put a glass baby food jar in the bottom left corner of the top shelf - if it's full of water, the dishes are clean and if it's not, they're dirty. Simple and effective!

We've standardized on filling the soap tray in the dishwasher _as soon as the clean dishes are out_. So if there's soap, the dishes are dirty. If on soap, they're clean. Nothing to buy, you have to fill the soap tray anyway, and it works even if the front of your dishwasher isn't magnetic.

I've been using one of these for ages, and I've gotta say it's a big help when there are just a few dishes in the washer. So Parenthacks is right on the money, again. Next time, though, post a hack I don't use yet? ;-) (just ribbing you guys - loved the toy zone with painter's tape idea)

Its fun to see when kids get involved in helping at home, I'v learned that its also good to give them a conscious thanks and they feel that they have been contributing to the home as well.

But we kept hitting the same roadblock: "are the dishes clean or dirty?" As in: are the dishes that are already in the dishwasher clean (so we should stack our plates on the counter) or dirty (so we can put them in the dishwasher)?

I saw this when you first posted it, but our dishwasher was out of commission. It's fixed how (hallelujah!) and we made ours yesterday! We did it 2 sided and I cut up one of our dozens of promotional magnets and put it inside. Kids are excited about it now, we'll see about it in a few weeks.

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