How We Share the Load (See What I Did There?) of Washing Dishes (Sponsored)

Health Parenting

Image: Mysid, [public domain]
Image: Mysid [public domain]
In homes of every size, it’s hard to equally share the load of responsibilities. Whether you’re a stay-at-home ‘rentĀ balancing life with a jet-setting spouse, or have a family of 5, making things feel fair is a challenge we all face. What I’ve found is that finding systems that just work. When everyone knows what to expect, and how to take appropriate action, everyone stays on the same page. A great example in our house is doing the dishes.

Keeping track of dish-washing can be hard when the family is pulled in every direction. Extracurricular activities, work, errands, social activities, and all the other little things that take us out of the house at odd times make it hard to track who’s turn it is. We have tried a number of options, many of which relied on active cooperation. For a while, it worked to have the kids empty the dishwasher together, taking turns doing the top and bottom. This worked when they were younger, but started to back things up once they started having more after-school activities. The kids switched to taking turns doing the dishwasher, but sometimes that just didn’t work out.

Things escalated when we moved into a place with a tiny dishwasher. We had to switch to everyone pitching in, since we had to empty the dishwasher 2-3 times each day. After about a week of “Oh, it’s my turn?!” and “I did it twice today!” we knew something had to give. So we introduced a tracking method: magnets.

Photo: Rory Bristol
Photo: Rory Bristol

With these game-piece style magnets, we can tell at a glance whose turn it is. When we empty the dishwasher, we just move our magnet to the bottom. But it doesn’t stop there. If the dishes get backed up, we might need to deal with them out of order. Using the magnets, we can take our turn out of order, without confusing the whole house. Because we always know whose turn it is, it’s easy to get things done without one anyone feeling ambushed later. It’s Dad’s turn, but he’s at the grocery? Someone else takes a turn, and Dad’s magnet stays at the top, so it’s still his turn, no matter who did the dishes last.

Another thing we do to make this chore easy is to include using Cascade Platinum ActionPacs. We started using pods so we wouldn’tĀ have to worry about kids using too much or too little detergent. This way, we also never worry about dishes not getting clean enough, or kids spilling dishwashing powder all over the floor. The ActionPacs have just the right balance of chealant, surfactant, enzymes, polymers, and bleach to clean your dishes (even baked on foods), refresh your dishwasher, and remove stains. All of our dishes have gotten much cleaner since we switched detergents, which is important since our dishwasher fills up so quickly. No second wash needed.

Now, is there anything revolutionary about magnets, detergent pods, or using tools for tracking whose turn it is? No. But finding a system that worked for us was a game-changer. If there’s a chore or regular task that needs to be shared, we work on it until we find some kind of system that works. I’d like to heartily encourage you to find systems for your family that help the household run smoothly.

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