Mealtimes seem to come round so fast and some days (make that most days around here!) it just seems impossible to keep up with the washing up. The idea that clear counters and a shiny sink make us feel better, and that piles of clutter and dirty crockery can play havoc with our peace of mind is convincing.
Given the apparent link between mental health and clearing up, let alone the implications for efficiency and productivity, I am keen to improve my skills and, perhaps more crucially, my attitude in this area.
Gradually I am learning to love the washing up. While once it seemed insurmountable, that all my efforts to reach the end were merely futile, I am now finding some sense of peace with the daily challenge. It turns out that, sometimes, washing up can actually be pleasant and enjoyable, maybe even an opportunity to get some other stuff done too…
So, some thoughts about the washing up…
Use a timer.
This was a revelation (thanks, Flylady). Using a timer to measure the how long it takes to complete household tasks may reveal that many jobs take a lot less time than we imagine, this was certainly the case for me. Most days ten minutes will pretty much get a meals washing up done, and even on the busiest days with visitors in the mix, ten minutes will certainly allow enough time to make significant progress, especially if there is more than one of you.
Setting the timer for a short amount of time can boost motivation. Beating the timer provides a fun challenge that can transform our attitude and shift our focus. Tasks become more manageable when we tackle them in short bursts of concentrated activity. Often it is the act of starting that can be the most challenging part. So once a task is underway we may find the inclination to get on and finish it, even when the timer has ended.
Share the time with loved ones.
Time spent washing up goes faster with company. If there are others willing to help, then it’s a great opportunity for a chat. Just having company in the kitchen can make the job more fun. Inviting little ones to play nearby or suggesting a dance party transforms the atmosphere and makes the task more pleasant. Or maybe catch up on calls to loved ones further afield, just make sure that hands-free device stays nice and dry!
An opportunity for meditation.
Allowing ourselves to be fully present in the moment and feel the warm water on our hands can be relaxing and offer space and time for meditation. An opportunity to practise mindfulness, paying attention to each item we clean, or perhaps the perfect time to exercise those gratitude muscles and consider how much there is to be truly thankful for. Washing up can act as an oasis of calm and peace within an otherwise busy and stressful day. Those much needed moments of relaxation and serenity may be enhanced by burning candles, incense or fragranced oils. Making a conscious effort to consider our surroundings might offer insights into ways to improve the atmosphere and ambience.
Indulge in some creative thinking.
While our hands are busy, our minds may wander and washing up time can be great for mulling over any challenges and pondering any troubles, even conjuring up new blog post ideas (guess when this one came to mind!). Maybe some space and time can allow us to consider issues from different perspectives and find creative solutions.
Catching up on some listening.
Washing up time can be an opportunity to catch up on our favourite podcasts (The Archers anyone?) or listen to an audiobook. One of my lovely daughters even uses the time to catch up on YouTube videos or shows on demand (again assuming there is a safe place to keep that device of choice well away from the water!).
The ideas that clearing up should form part of any activity, and that mealtimes are not over until the washing up is done, seem simple and sensible. Tackling the washing up sooner, rather than later, does make the job easier. But this is real life and sometimes chores have to wait while we get on with more important stuff. So as well as learning to love that washing up a bit more, I am also working on accepting that it will get done, it always gets done eventually, just maybe a little later. But at least I won’t be dreading it so much!
For some this is all so obvious, I salute you ‘born organised’ types (sorry, just another Flylady reference). But for me and I hope for some of you, these ideas can transform the way we see this one little job.
Have you had any great revelations about the washing up or do you have a top tip on how to make it easier? I would love to hear your thoughts.
May all your washing up get done with the least of hassle and the most of fun, enjoy x