News: IT'S THE 2ND ANNUAL GUATEMALA LIBRARY PROJECT BOOK DRIVE!    LOOKING FOR DONATIONS OF SCIENCE BOOKS THIS YEAR.    Check it out in the "Extending the Hand of Kindness" folder or here: http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=139832.msg3372084#msg3372084   

  • November 19, 2017, 06:50:06 AM

Login with username, password and session length

Author Topic: Somewhere btwn the truth and staying mute exist some magical words I hope  (Read 7181 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Kiwipinball

  • Member
  • Posts: 1457
I've often managed this by making it all about me.  This was particularly effective in preventing my mother from coming into my kitchen and helping.  To be clear, my mother and I work well together in the kitchen, but she does sometimes take over.

'Hey Mum?  You're a guest today, and guests don't do dishes.  You want to help?  Grab your wine/ coffee/ whatever, and stand here and talk to me.'

Or

'Hey Mum?  You're a guest today and guests don't do dishes!  Why don't you head into the other room and visit with the family.  The dishes will be sorted tomorrow - it's easier for me that way!'

I think this is a know your audience type thing. Saying that would be borderline offensive in my family. Family and guests are two separate categories. But I could also fairly bluntly tell them that certain dishes can't go in the dishwasher, so leave them for me.

RainyDays

  • Member
  • Posts: 344
So apparently this is one of those topics that I must be etiquettely blind to. What is wrong with asking someone not to do the dishes? "So-and-so, please don't clean the dishes. I'll get it later." If they continue, "No really, I'm asking you to please not clean my dishes. I prefer to do it myself." And just upping it from there. I have gotten mad at my mother before for not actually listening to the words coming out of my mouth. Thankfully now, a simple "Please don't xyz" works.

What is wrong with getting mad? Why should you feel anxious and bite your tongue and try to find the "right words" when they are the ones causing the problem? This is one of those instances where I feel like women are taught to not cause conflict, just smile and smooth things over, when really, just being frank and honest would work better. Why are you worried about their feelings when they clearly aren't caring or listening to you about yours? That sounds harsh, but that's what's happening.

TootsNYC

  • Member
  • Posts: 33792
Here's another script for making it all about you:  "I'm actually pretty territorial about my kitchen, and we've got procedures that other people don't know about. Please don't."

And if they persist, "Maybe I wasn't clear; I'm sorry. I like to be the only person who does those things in my house, because I am picky."  And if it really comes to it: "Please don't interfere."

Because it is actually rude to insist on cleaning up for someone else. The first offer is fine, but after that, Aunty is being rude to persist.

I've thought about this--it hasn't come up yet, but I can see that it could, if the right (wrong?) person was visiting me.
No one outside the family is allowed to cook in my kitchen, because I have celiac. And I'm not going to have someone use the wrong pan, or make something unusable.

I've figured I'd say, "We have rules in our kitchen because of my celiac, so you're not allowed to cook or clean up--sorry!"


At Thanksgiving, I like to use my nice china for the 16 or so people who come. We refuse to do much dishwashing that day--we'll do it tomorrow. That means that we have to be relatively careful about handling, because you can break stuff if you stack it w/ stuff between the plates, etc. And we need to keep it consolidated.
    We've had to say, "Leave it to us, please," in a brooks-no-nonsense tone. It bothers my MIL, but I had to say to her twice, "This is my house and my dishes; leave this to me."  I may have even said, "Please don't interfere," and maybe even once "I'm sorry if you don't approve of how I'm handling my dishwashing chores."

She called me before the last Thanksgiving I hosted to say that I didn't need to use china, I should use plastic plates. Because of the washing up. I said, "I'm the hostess, right?"

lowspark

  • Member
  • Posts: 5476
I have a rule in my house. No one does dishes when guests are still in the house. I invited people over to spend time with them, not for them or me to do dishes or any other activity which diverts my (or their) attention.

I usually only have to repeat that a couple of times and people catch on. I don't even want people clearing the table  because it causes a lot of back & forth, people putting things in the wrong place, plates getting scraped off in the sink instead of the trash, etc. Not to mention a lot of "where do you want this?" type questions.

So yeah. I ask people to just leave everything as is on the table and go into the living room. I take about ten minutes to put away food but everything else just sits till the last guest leaves. If anyone tries to clear or clean, I just say that they would be doing me a bigger favor if they left it alone since I want to spend quality time with my guests and leave the clean up for later.

If someone is really insistent after that, I'm not sure what you can do except really insist in a not-so-polite manner because at that point, they have gone over the line of politeness by ignoring (or attempting to ignore) their host's wishes.
Houston 
Texas 
USA 

Semperviren

  • Member
  • Posts: 869
I've used "Thanks, but I have my own system and I'm particular about it." That's enough to back most people off.

With those who are Determined To Help Whether You Like It Or Not, I try to have some little jobs to redirect them and physically get them away from the dishes: refill the ice bucket/ water pitcher, get out the dessert plates, run the crumb catcher over the table (kids love that one), take out the garbage, etc. While they're occupied and out from under my feet, I can get the dishes at least rinsed and stacked, the silverware soaking in the dishpan, etc. (I like the idea of having them throw the linens in the washer but make sure they don't get over helpful and start it running- I've had things ruined because someone ran a load through without knowing I needed to stain-treat some stuff and by the time I caught it, they'd run the whole batch through the dryer).

And, if they're just totally overbearing and you feel pushed around in your own house and they won't hear your "no, thanks", a more direct approach like "please don't interfere" is warranted.

malfoyfan13

  • Member
  • Posts: 380
I'm laughing because this so describes some of my relatives.  I have two who jump up the minute dinner's through and start taking the plates away.  They also will do this in anyone's house, not just theirs.  Used to drive my late mother crazy.  She would never say anything to them. 

I've circumvented this by requesting that they just pile up the dishes on the counter: "I'll be doing them later, thanks." This has worked pretty well.  My "good" dishes do not go in the dishwasher due to metal around the rims, which will wear off if they're run through the dishwasher.  And I don't put any glassware in there. 

And my DH is forbidden from washing any glassware or platters, since he's broken two of my mom's platters and countless glasses.  He's always in too much of a hurry, and ends up dropping stuff.  He knows to leave things for me to wash, and which unbreakable things are OK for him to wash. 

TracyXJ

  • Member
  • Posts: 351
I accidentally stumbled on the non-etiquette approved way. 

I am a little obsessive about how my dishwasher is loaded (I come by it genetically - both my parents are very particular about how their dishwasher is loaded) and my in-laws are...not.  If it fits, it washes with them.  The 1st time they were over at our place after a meal, they were wonderfully helpful and started loading the dishwasher.  And I then went and pulled out dishes that still had food on them to re-rinse, removed wine glasses because I'm afraid of them breaking, rearranged so that more could fit.  I wasn't angry about it or anything, it's just what I do.  But now they all rinse the food off the plates better and don't put wine glasses in my dishwasher.  And comment on it every time.

I have noticed that they now rinse their own dishes at home a lot more than they used to...

So unless you want to deal with the passive aggressive comments, don't do it my way...

jazzgirl205

  • Member
  • Posts: 199
I really hate the type of gatherings where all the women are expected to scurry to the kitchen and clean up while the men sit and talk.  That doesn't happen at my house - ever.  My guests are my guests and I will take care of it after they leave.  I have had to tell friends and relatives that this isn't a church potluck.  This is my house and I have given them an evening out.  I then ask them not to insult my hospitality by assuming I want them to end a delightful evening by rolling up their sleeves and getting to work.

Seriously, it isn't hard to keep people out of my kitchen.  A firm "I don't want you to do that" accompanied by a meaningful look should take care of it.

gellchom

  • Member
  • Posts: 3722
I've developed a few good tricks over the years.

Sure, you can be firm and even get mad.  And maybe they deserve it.  But it doesn't do a lot for your party, does it? 

I find that protesting that I have my own system, or that I want us to keep conversing, and such, lead inevitably to "I'll just take in these few things, then" -- and they plunk the dirty dishes down right in the middle of the area I've cleared to prep the next course.

(1) The thing that works best is what the OP already discovered: hire help.  I've told helpers, "I don't care if you do a single thing in here -- you can sit and read the paper for all I care.  Your job is to be here so that they will stay in their seats."  The helpers still help me serve and clear and they do do some dishes, but it's the truth: the real value is keeping the guests out of the kitchen.  So go ahead and do it even for a small group.  If your guests think it seems like too much of an extravagance or something, you can always say something like, "Oh, Daisy was here today anyway helping me polish the dog, so we gave ourselves a treat and asked her to come back tonight."

(2) The next best is to announce, when it's time to clear the first course, "I know you all want to help, and thank you!  I'm going to let you.  But I need to avoid traffic jams.  So I'm going to have one person at a time help me, okay?  Aunt Tallulah, it's your turn; please help me clear the soup plates.  Please put them to the left of the sink."

(3) I have a cart (I don't know how I lived without it).  I bring in a course to the dining room on it and leave the cart there.  When someone jumps up to clear, I can say, "Please just put it on the cart."  Usually they do -- I guess because people seem to like the cart.

(4) Another poster said this, and I heartily agree: give the members of the I Must Help squad something to do that you don't mind them doing.  It makes people feel like they are inner circle.  Some suggested tasks are keeping an eye on the water pitcher and refilling when necessary; arranging cookies on a platter for dessert; scraping leftovers into containers; crumbing the table; taking the linens to the laundry room.

(5) A variation on an old teachers' trick for dealing with the most unruly student: put that student in charge.  Add to that the very effective approach of asking people for their help rather than telling them not to do something.  Take the Auntie who simply must must must help into your confidence: "Aunt Dorothy, I really need your help.  We have a very specific system for serving and cleaning up, and it really messes me up when people come in and do it differently.  But I don't know what to do when people simply insist on helping -- I mean, I can't tell them that they are actually making it harder for me, you know?  So can I ask you please to be in charge of keeping everyone out of the kitchen tonight?  I know they will listen to you!  Thank you so much."

TracyXJ

  • Member
  • Posts: 351
I have a rule in my house. No one does dishes when guests are still in the house. I invited people over to spend time with them, not for them or me to do dishes or any other activity which diverts my (or their) attention.

I usually only have to repeat that a couple of times and people catch on. I don't even want people clearing the table  because it causes a lot of back & forth, people putting things in the wrong place, plates getting scraped off in the sink instead of the trash, etc. Not to mention a lot of "where do you want this?" type questions.

So yeah. I ask people to just leave everything as is on the table and go into the living room. I take about ten minutes to put away food but everything else just sits till the last guest leaves. If anyone tries to clear or clean, I just say that they would be doing me a bigger favor if they left it alone since I want to spend quality time with my guests and leave the clean up for later.

If someone is really insistent after that, I'm not sure what you can do except really insist in a not-so-polite manner because at that point, they have gone over the line of politeness by ignoring (or attempting to ignore) their host's wishes.

I love this solution.  Though I do enjoy the bonding/chatting time in the kitchen cleaning up after a big meal (like Thanksgiving) too.

Just curious, what do you do with multi-day guests? 

lowspark

  • Member
  • Posts: 5476
I have a rule in my house. No one does dishes when guests are still in the house. I invited people over to spend time with them, not for them or me to do dishes or any other activity which diverts my (or their) attention.

I usually only have to repeat that a couple of times and people catch on. I don't even want people clearing the table  because it causes a lot of back & forth, people putting things in the wrong place, plates getting scraped off in the sink instead of the trash, etc. Not to mention a lot of "where do you want this?" type questions.

So yeah. I ask people to just leave everything as is on the table and go into the living room. I take about ten minutes to put away food but everything else just sits till the last guest leaves. If anyone tries to clear or clean, I just say that they would be doing me a bigger favor if they left it alone since I want to spend quality time with my guests and leave the clean up for later.

If someone is really insistent after that, I'm not sure what you can do except really insist in a not-so-polite manner because at that point, they have gone over the line of politeness by ignoring (or attempting to ignore) their host's wishes.

I love this solution.  Though I do enjoy the bonding/chatting time in the kitchen cleaning up after a big meal (like Thanksgiving) too.

Just curious, what do you do with multi-day guests?

I just had a multi-day guest a couple of weekends ago!
The first morning we were in the kitchen chatting over coffee and I just told her to please leave her coffee cup and any other dishes she had to the right of the sink. We were chatting causally so I just said that I have my own way of doing things in the kitchen, I think I used the phrase "my domain", and so I prefer to do all the prep and clean up myself.

She was here for Passover, which is a big family meal with lots of people. She asked about helping me in the kitchen during the meal so I explained that my son helps me serve and clear and that it works best because we have a routine and he knows exactly what to do. Which is exactly the truth and it works out perfectly.

Anyone who has been to my house for a sit down meal before knows the drill so I only really have to explain it to those who are new. :)
Houston 
Texas 
USA 

doodlemor

  • Member
  • Posts: 2382
Probably not ehell approved, but this might bring a chuckle.........

About 35 years or so ago my mother was married to a lovely, but headstrong, man whose schtick was doing dishes.  My family and I lived in a very small house at the time, with an especially minuscule kitchen. 

One day I had them come for the nicest dinner that I could make, which used a lot of dishes.  At the end of dinner my mother's husband wanted to help.  I told them that I needed to clear the table in stages, because there wasn't enough room in the kitchen for all of the dirty dishes at once - that there was no place to put them all while rinsing them and loading the dishwasher. 

My stepfather negated my statement and told me that of course they would help, that it was best to get the dishes right into the kitchen.  He and my mother started making trips into the kitchen with piles of dishes, even though I asked them again to please not do this. 

Finally in frustration I started making quick trips myself between the kitchen and the dining room, taking the dirty dishes back to the dining room.  After I made several trips my mother's husband noticed what I was going, got angry, and said that he wasn't going to help anymore, if I wasn't going to cooperate.

This may have been the occasion when one of my "company" dishes was ruined, due to their malarkey.  Since there was no counter in my kitchen, they were setting the dirty dishes on the electric stove.  In the haste of getting dinner on the table I had inadvertently left a stove burner on the "simmer" setting.  My mother noticed because the residue on the plate was starting to char a bit.  Instead of just telling me, or turning off the burner so it could cool, she immediately put the plate under cold water to rinse it off.  Of course the plate cracked mightily from the cold water, even though they were made to go in the oven.


o_gal

  • Member
  • Posts: 1079
Instead of just telling me, or turning off the burner so it could cool, she immediately put the plate under cold water to rinse it off.  Of course the plate cracked mightily from the cold water, even though they were made to go in the oven.

What she experienced was thermal shock, and it will just about kill anything, even if it was made to go in the oven. Putting a cold dish into a hot oven is not enough to induce thermal shock, although with really cheap cookware it might if it goes from freezer to hot oven. But heating up a plate until it starts to char, then immediately going under cold water will definitely induce it.

Newer Pyrex uses a different type of glass and is prone to thermal shock. People claim that older original Pyrex won't, but I shattered old Pyrex by thermal shock. That was one loud bang!

lorelai

  • Member
  • Posts: 556
I think I will be using a combination of some of the phrases, hiding sponges/soap, and being more firm with people, since they are being firm with me in my own kitchen. I especially don't mind using the phrase "someone" broke our glasses when doing our dishes so we really need to take care of it ourselves, without blaming the person who actually did break them.

Our dishwasher actually is out of commission so people can't load it anymore anyway.

And I will continue to let DH do the dishes when his parents are here, because sometimes, I deserve a break. :)

Thanks all.

doodlemor

  • Member
  • Posts: 2382
Instead of just telling me, or turning off the burner so it could cool, she immediately put the plate under cold water to rinse it off.  Of course the plate cracked mightily from the cold water, even though they were made to go in the oven.

What she experienced was thermal shock, and it will just about kill anything, even if it was made to go in the oven. Putting a cold dish into a hot oven is not enough to induce thermal shock, although with really cheap cookware it might if it goes from freezer to hot oven. But heating up a plate until it starts to char, then immediately going under cold water will definitely induce it.

Newer Pyrex uses a different type of glass and is prone to thermal shock. People claim that older original Pyrex won't, but I shattered old Pyrex by thermal shock. That was one loud bang!

Thanks for the tech term!  I was always under the impression that the dish would have been OK if just left to cool at room temperature, since it was pottery that spent time in a kiln.  Do you think that it would have been OK?

I shouldn't be annoyed after all these years - I think that it was the sneakiness of it that bothers me.