I am all for cleaning with awake kids, instilling the value of work, and having my children do chores. One of my five year old twins’ chores is to unload the dishwasher first thing in the morning. Unfortunately, by having my young children unload the dishes by themselves, they have, on several occasions, broken cups, bowls, and plates. We’ve since established some ground rules on the proper way to unload the dishwasher, as well as few reminders on actually loading it.
How Kids Can Unload the Dishwasher Without Breaking Anything
1. Have a Clean Counter
When I ask my daughters to unload the dishwasher, I really need to first make sure that the counter top near where the plates and cups are going to be put away is wiped and clean. With a clean space available, my daughters can safely move their stacks of dishes and silverware to the counter. This is important! The majority of broken dishes happened because they were cramming things onto a stool, with a curved top. They would try to fit more and more on this tiny work surface, stacking things precariously, only to have them fall off and break. Plus, with these items on a stool, they were at the perfect level for my wants-to-help 2 year old to access. I’m hoping this one point will make a huge difference going forward.
2. Don’t stack items inside bowls
My daughters work as a two girl team to unload the dishwasher. One grabs the items from the dishwasher, while the other puts the items away. To speed things up, my daughter unloading will often put smaller items, like plates or cups inside the large mixing bowls. This is not good. This has often led to broken items, in part because of point #1. But, it also just makes putting things away more complicated. While she may speed through her job faster this way, it slows down my other daughter who’s putting the items away. The new rule is to keep things organized with like items, and by size, as much as possible. Plus, the mixing bowls go somewhere away from the plates and cups, so there really isn’t a need for them to be together in the first place!
3. Move silverware tray to the counter
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Who wants to keep running back and forth, or gather up all the forks, and then all the spoons, etc from the dishwasher and then to the drawer? Keep it simple and remove the silverware tray and put it on the counter space above the silverware drawer. One less person running back and forth in the kitchen is always a good thing.
4. Don’t Stack the Cups
We have glass cups that we use regularly. When unloading the dishwasher, I tell my daughters not to stack the cups one inside the other because then the center of gravity starts to shift as the stacked cups weigh more. This has definitely led to broken cups. The cups need to be moved one at a time.
5. Keep the toddler at bay
I have a two year old, a very loving and helpful two year old. But, as most parents of toddlers know, they have the best intentions but can cause more harm than help. While I would love to just kick him out of the kitchen sometimes (for many reasons), he’s usually around while his sisters work. So, I try to give very specific directions to him and his sisters about what he is and is not allowed to touch in the dishwasher. Glass cups? No freaking way. Steak knives? Nope. Stacked plates or bowls? Not those either. I pretty much let him help by unloading single dishes, or handing items to his sister. I also let him help with the plastic bowls or other less breakable items. Giving my son something to do, that is within reason, is better than shooing him away, as fostering a love of cleaning and helping should be more important than another broken plate in the grand scheme of things. Thankfully, he’s getting more mature every day. Those five things have helped us at least slow down the process of broken dishes in our home. Our daughters continue to be generally willing to do this chore, for which I am extremely appreciative. If only they were better about actually putting their dishes in the dishwasher, it would be a fine oiled machine!
Getting Kids to Load the Dishwasher
Unfortunately, my girls don’t really enjoy loading the dishwasher. The most we expect consistently is that the dishes will at least move from the table to the counter. Given that my daughters are still too short to turn on the water in the sink and rinse out their bowls without moving over a chair, it’s understandable to a degree. We have a soft padded mat right in front of the sink too which makes moving things around a little more complicated. Plus, they always put their dishes in haphazardly anyway, which means I will still need to rearrange them in the dishwasher. So, we’ve compromised a bit. Right now we are working to have our daughters do a few things when it comes to loading the dishwasher:
1. Dump dry food in the trash.
Our daughters need to clean their plates or bowls of the food that isn’t liquid-based into the trash can before putting it on the counter.
2. Dump liquids into the sink
If there is milk and cereal left in their bowls, or juice in their cups, they need to dump it in the sink before putting it on the counter. This really helps prevent the milk from getting nasty as it sits on the counter. Who likes the smell of old milk?
3. Put silverware in the dishwasher.
Since there isn’t a certain part of the silverware tray that butter knives need to go in versus a spoon, it is justifiable to ask them to put their utensils in the dishwasher.
4. Let them put in the detergent.
My kids love doing this. It’s like a special reward to put in the Finish® Powerball® Max-in-One into the detergent spot and spin the cover closed over top. Seriously, they are bummed when I do it instead of them! We’ve been using Finish® detergent for probably a year now as it just works better. Finish® gives you an amazing clean and shine, scrubbing away dried-on leftovers, with no need to pre-rinse (though I still do a bit). And the new Finish® Powerball® Max-in-One is wrapper free, which means it’s even easier for my kids to put into the dishwasher themselves. Sometimes I even let them pour in the Finish® Jet Dry® Rinse Aid in our dishwasher’s rinse aid dispenser. With plastic bowls and glass cups in the dishwasher, many of them have a tendency to still be wet once the drying cycle is done. But, Jet-Dry® helps remove spots and film and dry dishes better than ever before.
Save on Finish Products
Yesterday I went to Walmart to pick up some more Finish® dishwasher products, and was excited to see that there is an awesome ibotta app deal going on for them right now! (If you don’t know what ibotta is, check out THIS post). You can receive $1.00 off Finish® Powerball® Max-in-One detergent 23ct and higher and $1.00 off Finish® Jet Dry® Rinse Aid 8.45 oz. Plus, if you buy any Finish® detergent (23ct and larger) AND Finish® Jet Dry®, you’ll get an additional $1.00 bonus! That’s $3 you can get back in your pocket just for buying a great product you were going to buy anyway!How have you taught your children to unload and load the dishwasher in your home?
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Reckitt Benckiser. The opinions and text are all mine.