Adventures in Chaos-Quelling: Sisyphus and the Swiffer

Actually the chaos of the move has subsided moderately. Moderately. We have officially listed our condo (ok, almost - there was some kind of transaction issue and it's supposed to be up sometime today now). A cousin's son may be willing to mow our jungle for us. Our external light is fixed thanks to the magic of people who know people on Facebook. Our bedroom has curtains. Andrew's car isn't exploding. And this weekend (and this weekend only), we're actually not off on some kind of crazy excursion or other. We may stay in town the entire weekend, even! Maybe catch up on taming the chaos of our designated "pile o'shiznet" in the office and basement. Naw. But it's a noble idea.

Oh and the baby plague has subsided moderately. Chaya is still coughing, but she's back to staying up for a half hour telling her bunny rather stirring bedtime stories, and otherwise being less utterly miserable at times.

And now to the big chaos: Life. No way that's getting handled anytime soon.

But we are trying to let things settle a bit more and I'm experimenting with keeping some semblance of order in our lovely domicile.

Cleaning Buy-in for Baby

So I feel like this is another area that just has no consistency of opinion. I know the following with some degree of wiki-certainty:

 (1) moms running around cleaning up after their children all the time apparently breeds children with entitlement and no idea how to handle themselves,

 (2) but kids who live in chaotic messes are overwhelmed and overstimulated and they benefit from having things put away,

(3) But wait aren't messy people typically more creatives?

 (4) Ok, but seriously, give kids chores (but don't call them "chores" - maybe contributions or I don't know cucumbers?) and don't bribe them  to do them. And even toddlers can help around the house

 (5) Also the perpetual chaos is totally stressful and terrifying and it's nice to have things occasionally corralled

(6) Ok, so kids can help around the house, but what if they don't think that a toddler cleaning song and asking them to help mommy or turning it into a game interests them? Don't you dare turn this into an unecessary battle or go all disciplinarian on that poor toddler. They are way too young to have impulse control or understand pretty much anything. Really, we should lower our expectations of kids this age. Stop being so rigid and evil!

So of course the only alternative is to get rid of all our possessions and just go on playdates with affluently cluttered babies.

Some kids like to follow instructions. Like at the Mommy and Me Class, Chaya's buddy Isla is giddy about skipping in a circle, or lifting her leg, or pointing to her nose, or finding the BLUE BALL (and only the blue ball) to give back to Miss Mo for putting away.

Chaya's happy to show off and insists on being quizzed about animal noises, where certain things are, and the like. She has no time for "helping" or playing games. And really never has. I'm the hands-off mom who lets her run rampant during class time. I can't help it. I keep muttering under my breath things like "who the fuck cares if it's a green ball?" Though when we have all the little games that involve doing various things while holding hands and moving in a circle, I carry Chaya along. And when we're playing with the big parachute, I do prevent her from climbing on top of it. But seriously, the grief, exhaustion and angst some moms experience trying to corral their childrens at what's supposed to be a fun dance class? I feel a little guilty to thwart the teacher's instructions, which makes me even more resistant.

Anyways, yes, so instructions and games. Chaya plays her own games.

But I have found some success in asking her if she'll help put things away into their designated boxes. She won't always, but I let her kind of hold and throw them in. And she gets the idea. When Amber (who leads the other toddler music class in Bellingham, and who is way more chill about kids "experiencing music" however they want as long as it's safe) asks Chaya to put her scarves back in the box, she does it happily).

And the biggest thing so far? Just having designated places. I'm working more on keeping the clutter away. Most of the time, if the majority of Chaya's toys are put in big drawers, Chaya will focus on the toys already out. The more she sees, the more she grabs. I'm sure that will change, but she's in between "throw everything out of every cupboard and crevice" phases. And in the meantime, I'm having times where we put things back. She can help, but maybe not super well. She's young yet.

She does like to run laps holding the broom! And sometimes seems to use her animals as dust rags on the ground. Vroom vroom cleaning!

 Dishwasher Dalliances

I've largely been a reluctant patron of the electronic dishwasher. When I was single, it never made much sense to load up an entire vat full of dishes that I didn't even have. I mostly kept one of every dish and handwashed judiciously. Even when it was the two of us, it didn't seem like we went through dishes fast enough to justify using it all that often. During Chaya's brief flirtation with bottle and formula feeding, we started using it daily. But that didn't last particularly long. 

The problem has always been (1) one rack of the dishwasher inevitably fills up while the other rack is totally empty, or (2) the things I need daily are plentiful enough to require a fairly involved hand-washing regime, yet  not plentiful enough to justify running the dishwasher rapidly enough to keep up with demand. 

Leading to a discretionary system of what exactly it means for the dishwasher to be approaching capacity... And there are two of us making that judgment call!

This leads to all sorts of jiu jitsu and miscommunications between well-meaning spouses. I hand wash and hand wash and hand wash... then Andrew runs the half-full dishwasher without any of the things I would put in the dishwasher if I had only known it was about to be run. Alternately, I load up the dishwasher and run it without his stuff, which he then leaves in the sink (I have this visceral reaction to dishes in an early morning sink - I think I cannot actually sleep if I even sense there may be dishes there). Alternately, I load up the dishwasher, excepting he'll run it when he adds his dishes ... and then find out when I need several of the dishes that I loaded that he didn't really think it was full enough to run. 

Anyways, it actually is also environmentally more efficient to run modern dishwashers versus handwashing. If you can make it work.

So I have given it a one-week trial run. I lean heavily on the Instant Pot for dinner. And several small microwave dishes. And I'm finding that if I'm motivated, I can fill up a dishwasher fairly well in a day. So we're going back to daily usage and I'm trying to limit my instinctive handwashing.

And, it's not a 100% winning, but it's interesting. A few revelations

Day One: We don't have the sort of dishwasher that holds down smaller items, so it's challenging to load many of Chaya's little cups so they don't flip over and pool water during washing
On the bright side, great for washing Chaya's plastic toys, toothbrushes, even my keys. Lots of things that should be washed more regularly but otherwise weren't.

Day Two:
Does not get cooked on egg off. At all. A quick soak in cold water and a little scrub is way more effective. How much do I want those glasses to be sparkling?

Day Three:

Apparently slow cooked lentil marsala vaguely fushionesque stewy type thing is not 100% effectively cleansed in the dishwasher. There are some instructions on how to place pots to improve cleaning. I'm not sure how well I've followed them

Day Four:

Theoretically, the dishwasher would work better if I cleaned the filter. And the dishwasher. And I probably "should."

Though hold up!! Forget SHOULD. I've been practicing not just using "should" as "should" can be kind of a junk word laden with pointless guilt and morality. Instead I try to state the cause and effect. As in "If I clean the dishwasher, it will clean more effectively." Then I can weigh the options.

So. That. If I want to give the dishwasher a fair shot, it'd work better with a clean filter. But who said I'm a fair person. Dishwashers are for lazy people right?

Day Five:

The dishwasher has inspired me to branch out my cooking chops (and/or chips - tortilla chips all around!). Not always for a best. I do not think ovens and toddlers mix. Nor did my amaranth fritter recipe complement my baking pan and oven. I'm fairly certain I would have been better off pan frying them, but attempting to do anything that in-the-moment with a Chaya-beast going full gremlin about 20-15 minutes before dinner. The epic amount of presoaking before loading the pans into the dishwasher really undermined any pretense of time/energy saving But there was so much space in the bottom rack!! I had to!! And I will say that it actually did add a nice sparkle to those beleaguered baking pans.

Day Six:

Andrw asks "do you really want me to run the dishwasher tonight?" It doesn't look super full. I scramble to load things in that could use a wash. Chaya's little tray actually fits well in there. And our coffee mugs really could stand to be washed more often.

And we don't have any pets or potted plants, so many frenzied filling disasters averted on those grounds, anyways.


I'm not sure if this is the way to go. But it's worth trying for a little while longer.

I got better at loading the upper racks so things don't flip. Some days it feels like a stretch to run it. Other days, we have excess loads. But running the dishwasher in the middle of the day is a pain and creates hassle.

I think the biggest impact is making Andrew's job easier, since I'm fairly motivated about loading the dishwasher. But there are worse things in the world.

It means unloading the dishwasher is one more thing to do in the morning, but I'm getting a bit of science behind doing that. And it makes routine cleaning of things that could stand to be washed more often a little easier. You can wash toothbrushes, sponges, toys (some toys). That's an awesome feature. 
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