Self-Care Challenge (Day 118): Doing the Dishes

kitchen sink

On day 118 of my 366-day self-care challenge, I explored doing the dishes as an act of self-care. (I know, I know.)

Dishes? Really?

Yes, dishes.

Keeping up with the dishes has become a serious self-care activity for me.

I haven’t always been great about giving a crap whether there are dishes in the sink or not when it’s time for bed, but I’ve realized that clean, organized spaces make me feel more calm and focused.

That goes for my home office, living spaces – and especially the kitchen.

Cluttered spaces are distracting and leave me feeling tempted to drop some of my more important tasks to clean and declutter. Feeling one step behind can be frustrating, not to mention a drain on my time.

The reality is that cleaning is an ongoing process – it’s never done in the sense that it won’t need to be re-done. (I’m sure my readers with children know exactly what I’m talking about.) Once I came to terms with that, it was much easier to learn the art of cleaning as I go.

The kitchen sink is a great place to start. Why? Because it’s a magnet for clutter. It’s so easy to drop a glass in the sink rather than opening the dishwasher, especially when you’re on the phone or hurrying off to an appointment.

I’m not saying that there are never dishes left in my sink. I’m not perfect, and I certainly can’t control what others in my home do with their dishes. What I am saying is that there are less dishes left in my sink than there used to be, because I’ve decided not to let them linger there. When I’m done with my cup of coffee, it goes in the dishwasher. When I’m finished using a knife, it goes in the dishwasher. And if there happen to be a few other items in the sink left behind by others, they go in the dishwasher too.

Doing the dishes as I go has several benefits:

The dishes are easier to clean.

Let’s face it, dirty dishes that sit in the sink are a b*tch to clean. Dried foods require more scrubbing. And dirty dishes can also harbor bacteria that can quickly become a microbiology laboratory…which brings me to my next point.

It’s more sanitary.

The sink is one of the dirtiest areas of the kitchen. It’s where we wash raw foods, clean our hands, and rinse dirty dishes. An article that appeared in Food and Wine magazine went as far as suggesting “Your Kitchen is Probably Dirtier than a Toilet Seat.” (And if you use as sponge to wash dishes, don’t forget to clean that too!)

A clean kitchen makes me want to cook.

A clean kitchen is inviting. It’s beautiful! And knowing that there isn’t a sink full of dirty dishes to empty before I can even begin to prepare a meal makes it even more amazing.

It makes me feel better.

Quite honestly, this is reason enough for me. Knowing that my kitchen sink is empty and clean allows me to focus on other, more important things. I certainly don’t miss spending my precious time thinking about or grumbling about dirty dishes in the sink.

What’s your secret to keeping your sink empty?

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