Getting the Family to Help around the house

Drawing of me doing dishes, by Ryan Henry Ward


I’m a stay at home mom, so the vast majority of house cleaning tasks fall to me. And that’s fine, but I do occasionally grumble about doing the dishes, since it’s a task that requires my attention for a good five to ten minutes, two to three times a day. It’s onerous enough that when I had the opportunity in 2013 to have Ryan Henry Ward do a quick sketch for me in exchange for $10 or so, I asked him to draw me doing the dishes.

Now my husband and daughter are both very competitive and my daughter loves prizes. So my husband got the idea to have a contest between the two of them to see who could put away the most dirty dishes. First it was about picking up any dish, including and especially your own dishes, and getting them into the dishwasher. Tally marks on the white board would indicate by the end of the week who had done the most dishes, and the winner would get to see a movie of their choice.

Then once the two of them had mastered getting their own dishes into the dishwasher, they switched so that only “someone else’s” dishes count. By and large, this means my dishes. So since I’m used to just letting the dishes pile up by the sink for a third of the day, for the most part, the two of them are doing my dishes now. This morning, right before my husband left for work, he was furiously loading the dishwasher and adding more tick marks to his column of the white board, and when my daughter got home from school, the very first thing she did after putting down her stuff was wash dishes. I didn’t even have to say a word.

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