Well, it all started around the dinner table.
Again, somewhere along the line, we heard how a family excused their children from the dinner table when they were finished eating. The child, when finished with his food, would politely ask, "May I be excused?" After the parents gave their permission, the child would pick up their dishes and put them in the dishwasher and then be on their merry way.
We decided we liked that plan and ended meals like this for years. The kids would slowly trickle away from the table. And when they were gone, Lou and I would finish any other clean up.
One warm summer evening, (and I would say our kids were mostly young school age) the kids had been excused and were outside playing and we were finishing the cleanup of a particularly messy meal. I hadn't had time to clean as I cooked, so it looked like a bomb had exploded. Even though the kids had brought their dishes over, there was still a lot of work to do.
I don't know which one of us it was, but one of us said something like, "You know, we'd get this done a lot faster if the kids were in here helping..."
It was like a revelation! How had we not thought of this before?
But how was it going to work with us excusing them as they finished? Were we going to make them stop whatever they had become involved with and come back to help?
We decided that would not be practical nor would it go over well. The only way this clean up idea would work is if everybody stayed seated until everybody was done.
So, the next night, we introduced the concept.
They were thrilled.
But we started anyway.
This actually was the toughest for our David, who could down his food in seconds, and then was ready to be moving and shaking. Bless his heart. He probably still hears "Sit down, David." in his sleep. But he was by no means alone. I got huffs, and puffs and blow your mom down looks (and behaviors) on more than one occasion from all of them.
But from that first meal on, we were happily blown away by how quickly we were out of the kitchen after a meal! When you have 16 hands putting food away, wiping off counters and the table, loading the dishwasher, and washing what can't go in the dishwasher, it doesn't take long to be done. Many hands truly do make light work. Throw a little cleanup music on, and you've got a party!
Well, sort of.
Of course, there were the moments of one kid reporting on how another kid was being a slacker. Those moments were always fun to referee. Good grief! No rest for the weary. C'mon people. Let's just all get this done with a smile on our faces!
When this stay seated until everybody's done was first instituted, it was strictly with the after dinner cleanup in mind. But I must say that we gained an even bigger benefit than that.
We sat around the table longer as a family. And talked. We just shared life together a little longer. Sure, sometimes the last slow eater had holes bored in them from faster eaters who were ready to get on with something else, but for the most part, it was precious time.
So our good for a good reason? Everybody stay seated at the table until everybody's done so everybody can help clean up.
Our good result? Faster - way faster - cleanup
Our better result? More family time together.
This makes me want to stand up and say "Yay!!"