There are times in life when keeping up with the dishes just isn’t going to happen – even with a dishwasher. (We just got one and, to my disappointment, it doesn’t load itself.) Maybe you just had a baby. Maybe you way overbooked your calendar. Maybe it’s so hot your sweat has sweat and you just cannot possibly stand there and wash another plate. And maybe you just don’t feel like it. This is why God invented paper plates and plastic forks. I know they’re not environmentally friendly and that we’d all rather eat from our perfectly good Fiestaware or what have you, but sometimes something has to give. Better the place settings than your sanity, right?
There was a time in my life when I would never even have considered using disposable tableware. It probably also coincided with my firmly-held belief that I was going to become a United States Senator and change the world by being really, really good at arguing with people. So when I was like 17. I held on to some pretty obnoxious personal standards until my mid-twenties, when a chain of personal crises ended with a broken foot and me in a cast, on crutches, alone in a three-story apartment. In the hospital, a very wise nurse told me it would probably be a good idea to use paper plates for a while. “Ha,” I thought. “Not me. I am not a paper plate kind of person.”
Since you’re reading this post you’ve probably gathered that, actually, I am very much a paper plate kind of person.
(I did, actually, descend to the point of trying to eat food directly out of the packaging. That ended poorly when I tried to carry a can of tuna from kitchen to living room with a hungry cat circling my crutches. I faceplanted; tuna went everywhere; the cat refused to eat any, because it was now sullied. I’m not altogether sure how a plate would have helped in this situation, but I theorize that it could have.)
I will admit that I feel residual guilt about this sometimes. I do. I know we live in a nation of profligate waste. I try to use reusable produce bags at the grocery store, and reusable bag-bags at checkout. I have microfiber cloths for cleaning, and I prefer eco-conscious soaps and shampoos and all-purpose cleaners (although I am not into Dr. Bronner’s for everything – I did try). So I try not to use paper plates and plastic forks very often, but when I do choose to do so, I take a break from the work of dishes and from the guilt of disposable stuff. Or I try to. I was always destined to become Catholic. I’m really good at hanging on to guilt.
Anyway, there are lots of reasons you might need to ditch a chore, whether it’s washing the dishes or something else entirely. And truly, you don’t actually need a reason to take a pass occasionally. We all need a break sometimes, and alas, a trip to Fiji sans kids isn’t often possible. It’s OK to take shortcuts like using paper plates. This is your permission slip.
The modern world being what it is, you can even find very trendy versions of disposable tableware. I mean, Target. So do that. If this week is just really really hard and you cannot figure out any way to make it easier, go buy a pack of paper plates. Serve dinner on them, whether it’s something you just cooked, leftovers, or delivery Chinese food. Throw them away. Use the time you saved to take half a shower, after the kids are in bed and before one of them wakes up. Call it a picnic. Enjoy it.