Wednesday, May 09, 2012

A Strange Success

Ed and I have always had a hard time keeping the kitchen clean. That is an understatement, really - at any given moment our kitchen was very likely to be completely overrun with enough dishes to fill the dishwasher several times over. Periodically we would beat back these hordes by doing a bunch of loads, but it always regressed to the same state. We tried various ways to fix this, to no avail.

About six weeks ago, I told Ed that this was really bothering me. I need to be able to make food at home and the way we were keeping the place wasn't conducive to that. I suggested a new regime.

The suggestion was actually really simple - I proposed a rule that no dishes could be put on the counter. Dirty dishes must go in the dishwasher. If the dishwasher is full, it should be run; if clean, it should be emptied. Half of the sink is reserved as a space to work in, but the other half is available for dishes used while the dishwasher is actually running.

Ed agreed on the condition that we also have a rule of no trash outside of the garbage pail, including in the living room. Fair enough.

There was one additional touch. In the past, because we are both (in some ways) slobs, and both stressed and bad at taking care of things, we've cut each other a lot of slack on things like this. But I stressed that this time around, if one of us wanted to be nice to the other, this could only be done by taking care of the chore the other person couldn't do, and not by letting it go. In other words, if I've left some dishes on the counter and Ed wants to be nice about it, the proper way to do so is to put them in the dishwasher for me - not to just let me off the hook.

It was pretty obvious that this new regime, merely consisting as it did of a new rule - and, what's more, a new rule that was already obvious and should have been the guiding principle already - would not work. And yet it has worked. We've had a clean kitchen ever since.



Barefoot Doctoral said...

I like the "if you want to be nice to me, help me out by doing the task I am failing at" aspect of this plan. Good luck.

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