You just hung up the phone after being told that the repairman will not be able to come look at your broken dishwasher for at least a week. The tears are beginning to race down your face. Do not panic! I am about to tell you how to survive when the dishwasher croaks.
First, take a few deep breaths and examine your options. You can put your family and friends on notice that you will be eating every meal with them for the next week. They might understand and be accommodating. Another option is to go to the grocery store and stock up on microwave meals, paper plates and cups, and plastic utensils. Or, the third option is to wash the dishes by hand.
In the not too long ago past, people did that all the time before dishwashers became a primary appliance in every household. In fact, the practice of washing dishes was so prevalent that detergent advertisers promised relief from dishpan hands if you use their gentle, soothing detergent! No need to worry, though, a week or so of washing dishes should not be harmful and dishpan hands is not a disease to be feared.
So, if you heroically decide to wash your dishes yourself, there are some handy guidelines to make the chore not only tolerable, but enjoyable to boot!
First, warn your family that you will be eating 15 or 20 minutes later than usual. This takes the time pressure off so that you can wipe off counters and start cleaning some of the cooking utensils before you sit down at the table to eat. You will enjoy your meal more, knowing that the pots and pans are clean instead of stacked up waiting to be scrubbed.
After your meal, do not linger and dread the upcoming chore. Just make yourself get up. Grab a few dishes on the way to the kitchen, place them on the cleared off counter, and go back for more. Important! Do not stop to wash the dishes until the table is completely cleared. Otherwise, you will become discouraged every time you head back to the table for more dirty dishes. You will be thinking the dirty dishes are multiplying and you might never be finished with this chore. When all the dishes are stacked on the counter, start rinsing them off – after you have scrapped any remains into the trash, of course. Stack the rinsed dishes back onto the counter. Rinse out the sink and then fill it with hot, soapy water. It is best to use a fragrant detergent, maybe apple blossom. Smell enhances our experience and can be very calming. If you have a window above your sink, open the shutters or curtains and look outside. Let your mind wander a bit. Think happy thoughts, talk to the Lord, or just enjoy the quiet moment. Inhale deeply that rich apple blossom fragrance.
Now, gently take the dishes and stack a few into the sink. Wash the plates front and back, use a little scratcher of some kind to get between the tines on the fork if you need to, and use a brush if necessary to get inside the glasses. After each item is washed, rinse it thoroughly in hot water and set it in the drainer to air dry.
Take time out between your washing motions to grab a handful of bubbles and blow them into the air – just for the fun of watching them float around a minute before they pop. This is even more fun if you have a child or grandchild beside you. Hum a cheerful tune. This will not only make you feel better, it will draw other family members in to find out what has gotten into you. Who knows, if you make it look like enough fun, you might have offers of help for the next round.
If you do, indeed, have a helper, take the time to listen to each other while you visit about your day, your thoughts, your hopes and dreams. With no television blaring and no other distractions, conversation becomes more open, more honest, more relaxed and enjoyable. You do not have to worry that the dishwashing will not be done properly. It really does not take much mental agility to get the dishes squeeky clean. You can trust that your hands will automatically acclimate to the chore and your mind can be free to focus on the conversation of the person next to you.
Now, if a week still seems a long time to go without your dishwasher, get creative. Ask your family to join you in a game of some kind to determine who will do the dishes. My parents taught my brother and me to play a marble game, Wahoo, when we were very young. Some nights, after we ate and cleared off the table, we would play partners and the losing team had to do the dishes. I still cannot understand why my dad was so ready to participate after a long day at work, but he usually was. Of course, my brother and I enjoyed having a 50/50 chance of getting out of the dishes. We were way to young to understand that dishwashing is a relaxing, enjoyable pursuit.
So, now you know, you have options when the dishwasher breaks. You have a step by step guide to walk you through the manual dishwashing chore, and you know how to make it enjoyable for yourself and your family. Who knows, you might have so much fun you decide to get rid of the dishwasher altogether. Then again – maybe not!