Some of my earliest memories include being in the kitchen with my two sisters washing dishes after dinner.
One would wash, one would dry and the other would put them away. The latter was always considered the easiest of the three and one I rarely if ever got to do for some reason…but I’m not bitter…really I’m not.
But I also remember numerous times when I would spend time alone finishing up dishes and cleaning the kitchen. Barely tall enough to reach, and often on a chair, I would wipe down the counters, the stove and anything else that needed attention.
I admit that this may seem a bit odd for a 5 or 6 year old to take this kind of initiative. My parents didn’t ask me to do this and it wasn’t a form of discipline or anything like like. I just remember the satisfaction of completing the job. I liked the clean kitchen and I remember feeling like I was doing something helpful for my mom in particular.
This may have been where the seeds of neatness (some may say “neat freakness”) were planted in me; although there are earlier stories of me coming in from playing outside, to wash my hands…then go back out to play.
Things haven’t changed much. We don’t have a dishwasher at home and I wash dishes daily. And since opening our cafe last year I’ve washed more dishes than ever. There we have a dishwasher but everything gets washed by hand first.
My motto? “We only wash clean dishes.” They are sterilized before even going into the dishwasher.
But maybe I was on to something; even as a young boy?
Recently I came across an article that outlined the value of the household chore of washing dishes, by hand in particular. You can read it here.
Why would something as simple and mundane as washing dishes by hand have any real benefit, other than clean dishes. Let me take a stab at it…
Why you should wash more dishes, not less.
It causes you to slow down.
Life moves at a fast pace for most of us and slowing down is becoming a lost art. Washing dishes well, means being methodical and slow, not rushed or hurried; unless you want your 24 piece dinner set to become a 48 piece.
The smell is refreshing
This may sound silly, but it’s real. Do you know that there are at least 27 different scents of Dawn dish soap alone? I think my favorite has to be Mediterranean Lavender. Yup. I think the folks at P&G are onto something there. Our sense of smell is closely connected to our memories and emotions too. Smells we enjoy can trigger positive memories.
The water is relaxing
Now, I like the water almost at scalding temperatures, but for normal people, slowly moving your hands through warm water is soothing and relaxing. Just avoid the knives.
The time is reflective
When I wash dishes at home, I am able to look out over our back yard. This time of year I enjoy the colours of the changing trees, I look at the pool and smile through the memories of the past summer pool parties and time with friends and family. I think about life in general and the direction that mine is going. I problem-solve, dream, plan and set goals. And I pray.
It’s actually productive time, but in a way that seems more like rest than work.
So you see, washing dishes by hand has a lot of benefits. And I almost forgot about the hydro you’ll be saving by not running your dishwasher. That’s important where I live.
So men (and women) don’t avoid doing the dishes. Sure, get your kids to do them once in a while but don’t let them have all the fun and benefit from doing them.
Somehow I figured it out 45 years ago that doing dishes was a good thing…and it still is.
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