Sunday, May 28, 2006

Time To Dish Up The Details

With 7 people in the house food prepartation and cleanup is a problem to be surmounted. When Craig and I moved in the family came up with a system. Every day except Thursdays there would be two people on kitchen duty. These two people would be responsible for cooking and cleaning up afterwords. The way it worked out was that each person would be on kitchen duty twice a week, although not necessarily with the same team-mate.

It also worked out that each person would be on once on either Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, and again on either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. This worked out well because Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays were full sit-down meals followed by family devotions. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were really glorified grazing days. Often times we'd be out on Saturday and we wouldn't worry about a full meal at home. Sundays were often the same. Except when we had guests over.

On Thursday nights Craig and I would go to Hans' place for dinner and the McQueens would have a 'grazing night' where they would fend for themselves.

The following summer, when it was just me with the McQueens, we couldn't have such even teams. Instead we set Thursday nights at grazing night, as usual, but then we were each on kitchen duty for a night. Just one night a week. My night was Friday night.

Kitchen duty was everything: cooking, setting the table, cleaning up, doing the dishes, putting away. Everything. If you were on kitchen duty it meant you could figure on doing just that for the night. Period. But that also meant that the other nights you could do whatever you wanted, guilt free, until you were called for supper! Then afterwords you didn't have to help with the dishes!

However, we ran into a problem. People, when on kitchen duty, would do most of the dishes, but leave a few pots and pans left over and say "oh, I've done enough for now" and leave the remainder. But this meant that the next time those dishes were needed they'd still need to be cleaned. That might take a few days. And those of you who cook and clean know the importance of cleaning a dish ASAP or else it becomes really hard to clean. (I also know that many of you haven't two clues what I'm talking about, so I'll spell it out plainly:

The longer a dirty dish goes uncleaned, the harder it is to clean it!

Stated another way:

The sooner you clean a dish after using it, the easier it is to clean!

Just a nickle's worth of free advice.)

So after a while these dishes would be difficult to clean, and there'd be a stack of them! And of course, since nobody was on kitchen duty on Thursday nights, then it wasn't any specific person's responsibility to clean on Thursday. So when I would come home on Friday night to cook I'd have to work in a dirty kitchen. (I hate working in a dirty kitchen.)

So, we identified we had a problem. This is good. Admittal is the first step. Not all dishes were being done. So, the 6 of us got together, and like any committee we decided to attack this problem by solving a similar problem that didn't actually exist (and create a few more problems in the process).

We decided that each person would be designated a set of dishes, a plate, a bowl, a mug/glass, knife, fork, and spoon. After a meal each person would have to wash their own dishes. No one else would. Each person was only to use their own dishes. Whoever was on kitchen duty would still have to clean all the other dishes; serving dishes, cooking dishes, pots, pans, etc.

Of course, what happened was that pots and pans were still not being done, personal dishes were sometimes being done, and people were using other people's dishes.

On the day this was all decided the cupboard shelf space was divided up into 6, with little notes attached to each part designating who that shelf space belonged too. I loudly declared "The Tim Horton's Mug is mine!" The next day I found my mug used, sitting by the sink. Okay, perhaps Robin's friend who had been there that day didn't know and she used it. So I cleaned it and put it back. The next day, after no guest had been in the house the Tim Horton's mug was sitting, dirty, by the sink waiting to be used. hmmm....I didn't use it.

So, here we are, with Jack McKay back with us, we just designated supper nights. We're back to the team method. We just got our designated dishes. This week the system starts. Lets see how long it takes to break down. (Incidentally, my dishes have already been used by someone else, and we haven't technically begun yet.)

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