Can you tell titles are a challenge for me? Well, I have a better challenge for you - one that helps me conserve water. I'd like to share it with you and how you can give dish washing a fun twist for the children in your life. I realized consciously as I rushed to fill the dishwasher with a load of dirty dishes that I don't EVER leave the sink water running. I get pleasure out of using as little water as possible before sending those dirty dishes to the dishwasher.
If you're someone who thinks "I prefer handwashing dishes. Isn't it better for the environment?" You can jump to Section B of this blog post.
Or if you're thinking why is a writer/artist talking about such drudgery? To that, I'd say what I enjoy about art and writing is practicing some degree of thrift. Thrift and resourcefulness are two concepts that are near and dear to me and have been all my life. Using what I have on hand. Letting found objects on walks inspire me. Nature is my greatest inspiration. And in everything I do, I aspire to give back to nature more than I take.
So here's some of my strategies you might like to use:
I look across the counter and find the least dirty utensils, plates, and cups. Those go straight into the dishwasher. No need to use water for those.
Then you find one that needs a little scraping with a butter knife to get big food off either into the disposal or trash (goal is eating all you serve, of course) (The disposal or trash issue is a future post) Still no water needed yet.
Next deal with the ones that need a little water. Try to find the things like bowls that will retain the water at the bottom of the sink (instead of going down the drain so quick). You can hold a dirty spoon in that bowl of water and scrub it clean enough to go to the dishwasher. Greasy stuff like peanut butter, mayo, sour cream. Those believe it or not can sit on a spoon soaked in water for hours! YES, the water in that bowl or pot will start to look REALLY gross. This might be where some of your kids WILL get into this activity! Plays into the lagoon monster theme well. The cloudy color or texture it takes on could go in infinite directions!
Pour that murky water from the bowl into the items that needs some soaking. Let water, the greatest Universal Solvent, on Earth do its work with a little time (and later a little elbow grease)
Soap, this drives my husband crazy. But this is my technique, so there! I reuse those foaming hand soap dispensers but add only about 2 - 3 tablespoons of my preferred dish washing soap and fill it the rest of the way with water and shake it up to incorporate (I DON'T buy antibacterial soap because of the damage to the environment. For more info on that, check out this Smithsonian article) I think diluting the soap makes the dishes rinse faster and economizes on soap.
Scrub brushes. I regularly put mine into the dishwasher for a refresh every few loads. Also, find one that works well for your child too if you're going to introduce them to doing dishes. In addition to tools, consider if they need a sturdy, non-slipping stool to reach the sink.
So where does this Lagoon Monster come into play? Well, this is a shameless ploy to entice your children to take an interest in washing dishes for or with you. They can be your Lagoon Monsters. Why would a Lagoon Monster want to anything to do with dishes? To that, you say cheerfully, "Everything!"
Here's the biggest reason:
Clean water is a diminishing resource. World Wildlife Fund mentions "only 3% of the world’s water is fresh water, and two-thirds of that is tucked away in frozen glaciers or otherwise unavailable for our use." So by making it a positive challenge for our children of seeing how little water the child can use as they practice can be encouraging. Creatures in real lagoons and all the bodies of water across the world look to us to respect this precious life. We need to keep our water supply as clean as is possible. To reuse or limit water.
Disclaimer: As many know with kids around water, be prepared for some lagoons of your own. Shallow pools of water on the floor. (Our younger son once went on a long family walk with us as his growing alligator toy sat in a sink with the water running. The toy grew impressively BUT at the expense of the water spilling over onto the floor.) Dishes might break and water might run off the counters onto the floor. But remember the long-term goal of learning this chore and just HAVE TOWELS on hand!
Family Activity: Let your child draw a picture of what a Lagoon Monster might look like. The native habitat. Or their own monster washing dishes. Ask them to tell you the story of what's going on in the picture. If your child and you want to share their work of art, please let me know and tag it on twitter or instagram with the hashtag #makingmonstersoup
Section B: If you're like me, you think of questions all the time. So here's maybe your first question. Isn't handwashing better for the environment than using the dishwasher? Here's my answer: not likely if you fill the dishwasher, run it on an energy efficient cycle, and without the heated cycle, but I welcome your ideas. From this article, I found out the average dishwasher uses 6 gallons of water per cycle; the average Energy Star-rated dishwasher uses 4 gallons per cycle.