I spend a lot of time at this sink - staring out the window, sudsy scrub brush in hand. We are not among those privileged with the coveted dishwasher. We scrub and rinse and dry by hand, often more times in a day than I can count.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a fan of washing dishes. Before Emmie arrived it was easy to let our dirty silverware pile up until the drawer went empty. A whole countertop screaming to be cleaned, ignored until a bout of chore tackling or the more common "I can't take this anymore" struck. To be clear, we are not messy people. I love a tidy home just as much as the next perfectionist. But there was something about hand washing dishes that felt like such a disruption to my day, dragging my feet more readily than the avoidance of other chores as though putting it off long enough would make those damn things disappear (which to his credit, a kind husband would often grant such a wish). Perhaps it is a simple case of laziness, but also a desire to be doing anything other than scrubbing crusty eggs off the frying pan, again.
Within the past year of tending to a home and family in a new way (monotonous scrubbing included) I've actually discovered, dare I say, joy in the menial work. I never thought I'd be sharing thoughts on washing dishes (or be dreaming of a dishwasher for that matter), but here we are. Complaints and first world problems aside, here are some of the ways my dishwashing drudgery has been eased, even if just a bit.
Open a window: Fresh air does everybody good, especially if one is in a particular grumbling state. I'm lucky enough to stand at a west facing window with a fairly consistent breeze and view of a tree lined park. If you don't have a window at your sink or the view is less than satisfactory, opening a nearby window and taking a deep breath of fresh air is a good place to start.
Add some greenery: A small vase of flowers picked on a morning walk, an air plant hanging in the window, a pot of fresh herbs. Whatever your greenery of choice, add some. Not only will it beautify your space and be a mood lifter, but it could very well distract from the imperfections of an old seventies tan and brown tiled kitchen. Plant therapy for the chore tacklers soul.
Freshen the air: Diffuse essential oils, light a candle, cut open a lemon. The power of scent is real. Purifying the air with a natural scent will calm the atmosphere and help the kitchen feel fresh (and so clean) even before the dishes are dry.
Keep counters clear: No matter how diligent we are in putting items away in their rightful places, our kitchen counters can easily become a catch-all for random odds and ends. Piles form in a matter of minutes - mail to sort, recycling to take out, not to mention the obvious dirty dish mound growing in gremlin-like fashion. To counteract (unintentional pun, thank you very much) the disorder, I like to keep our kitchen pretty sparse. By not having decor or other non-essential items cluttering the countertops, our kitchen feels instantly more peaceful and open to possibilities of say, an impromptu batch of chocolate chip cookies. It also makes that dirty pile of dishes a bit more bearable.
Use beautiful tools: I'm a believer in surrounding yourself with beautiful, useful things. This goes for easily overlooked everyday tools like sponges and scrub brushes. We recently, and happily, replaced our neon colored plastic-based dish sponge with this more eco-friendly wooden scrub brush and this wooden bottle brush, both of which hang on simple hooks above the sink. We're currently using this dish soap dispensed into this jar pump, and using this counter sponge.
Listen to something: Turn on a podcast, a playlist, an audiobook, or throw your bluetooth on and call a friend. Whatever your means of distraction, divert your attention away from the scrubbing and onto something entertaining. Your time at the sink will feel more enjoyable, efficient, and pass more quickly. You could even learn a thing or two.
Listen to nothing: Alternatively, let yourself unplug. Take that time to breathe and be present. Let your mind wander away from the to-do list and recharge in the solitude and meditative nature of the task. Pray, meditate, think, be. Instead of thinking of the chore as an inconvenience, it can be a small break from the remaining busyness of the day. And who knows, all that scrubbing and rinsing just might lead to some of your best ideas.
Maintain the mess: Dishes pile up much quicker with three mouths to feed. We try to wash as we cook, but often this is easier said than done, which leaves us washing dishes after each meal for a good (uninterrupted) 20 minutes or so. If possible, I try to tackle the dishes directly after eating. Post-meal washings help maintain a clean kitchen throughout the day rather than letting the mess build until it takes over every surface. I especially love waking in the morning to clean countertops, so tackling those dishes before bed has become somewhat of a habit (read: compulsion).