I have a confession to make. I hate doing the dishes.
No, that's not the confession. The confession is that I hate doing the dishes so much that I bought more dishes so I could go longer without doing them. My husband hates doing the dishes. My kids hate doing the dishes. That means we need more dishes so we don't have to fight about them as often.
As part of my efforts to live my minimalist desires, we have gotten rid of most of our dishes. We used to have 2-3 plates per person, probably 3 bowls a piece, and I'd guess at least 5 glasses each. We have seven people in our family. You do the math. That's a lot of dishes.
And when you hate doing them as much as we do, that means you don't do them until you absolutely have to -- when you run out of dishes. So when you finally do them there are a lot of dishes to wash.
We now have only enough dishes for each of us to have one of each. Each person has a spot in the cupboards. This is where they keep their dishes. They have a plate, a bowl, a mug, a small cup, a large cup, a table knife, a fork, a large spoon, and a small spoon. There are a couple of extras. One person got to keep her hot cocoa cup. One person traded a large spoon for a fork. But basically that's it.
And this is what that means. Each person is responsible for his/her dishes. Some of us wash them right after we eat, so that they are ready the next time we want to eat. Others stick them in the sink, but end up washing them soon anyway because that's all they have to eat off of. We wash them by hand because we are washing one or two at a time. This means less running of the dishwasher (which wasn't as effective anymore anyway since the law required changes in dishwasher soap). It means fewer dirty dishes stacked in my kitchen. It means no one is relying on someone else to do their chores before they have clean dishes available. It means fewer dishes left throughout the house. It means no more tracking down strange smells because a dish that still has food on it is left somewhere in the house. It means a lot more personal responsibility.
My kids are older (13 and up) so they can easily do their own dishes. And they all know how to use the dishwasher so I don't feel like I am neglecting their instruction.
When I first presented the idea my family thought I was insane. I planted the idea about a month before it was implemented (due to my energy level). Then one day we went through the cupboards and pulled everything out. People chose their stuff, it was placed in their spot, and everything else was boxed up and put away. It's not gone yet. Not because I'm not committed, just because I haven't made another run to the thrift donation area. Soon.
Everyone's biggest concern was about guests. What if we want to have someone over for dinner?
Okay, seriously, we rarely have anyone over for dinner. When we do it's usually just one person. I let my daughter keep an extra plate because if someone is going to be here when we eat it's probably her boyfriend. If it's someone else, they can use his stuff.
We also kept a picnic set. This is a plate, bowl, and cup for each of us along with silverware. It's stored in a carrying case that is packed away. These are emergency settings just in case and will be used when we go to a church function and are supposed to bring our own dishes. They won't be used often.
I have not solved the problem with the dishes used for cooking. Since we no longer have a lot of dishes our old assignments for dish washing don't quite fit. I'm working on a plan for that. We already don't own a lot of food preparation dishes. That means that even if people don't wash as they go, things don't stay dirty long.
We've only been living with this setup for about a week, but so far it seems to be a great success. People are happy with it. I haven't heard a single complaint. (Before, yes. Since, no.) It's working.
And how can you argue with the system when it works?