Four years ago when my third child was born, I found it hard to keep up with basic tasks like getting dirty dishes in the dishwasher. How could I? There were still clean dishes in there and somehow I didn’t have the energy or ability to get it emptied and the dishes, with no where to go, piled up throughout the day. By the end of the day, I was exhausted and now faced a kitchen with dirty dishes stacked in the sink, on the counter, on the stovetop and a still uncleared dinner table. Then as now I had some family help and a once-a-week housekeeper, but my husband worked late and I was largely on my own. It was not easy to meet every task. I decided one day that I could not change everything, but maybe with one small change, I could make my days a little better.
I made a change. It was a simple change, and maybe intuitive to many people, but it hadn’t been so simple for me. I would run and empty the dishwasher at night. I would make sure all the pots were cleaned and put away. I would throw out the trash–not just put it by the back door but bring it out to the garbage can.
The first night was the hardest because I had so much to clean. But I did it. I ran and emptied the dishwasher. I washed all the pots. I threw out the trash. It felt great. I felt lighter.
The next day I came down to an empty sink, a clean stovetop, a cleared off table, and an empty kitchen trash with no trash by the back door waiting to be tossed. I couldn’t believe the difference it made. My day had a positive start. I didn’t feel the burden of having work to do before I even had work to do. Since I had an empty dishwasher, dishes could go in right away and didn’t have to pile up. Since my pots were clean, I didn’t have to clean a pot before I used it.
That night at dinner, I ran the dishwasher before I brought the kids up for bed. I convinced myself that it was okay to run it even if I had one more spot for a plate. I was committed to getting the dishwasher emptied and the sink cleaned out. I could only make that happen if I ran it early enough to be able to empty it. And it worked.
Of course, that was then. Now I have four children and the dishwasher plan isn’t working so well. But I know it made a difference. I invoke that lesson to remind myself that one small change can make a big difference.
I am currently considering small changes to my very overwhelmed days. I will post along the way. Meanwhile, what small change can make a big difference to you?