One such place is the counter in the kitchen. For some odd reason cups are known to multiply worse than bunnies. I have a solution that has worked (within reason) for more than a year.
Important equipment for that job:
Colored Sharpies Mugs with handles
- A calendar
- A round melamine tray (with handles)
Why the handled mugs?
One of the beauties of having handled mugs is the fact that it is easy for any child to hold and the mug itself can hold either hot or cold liquids without the need for another glass. Each child has a special handled mug of their own that they wash after use.
Why the colored sharpies?
Each day has a color. That color sharpie is used to write each child's name on his/her mug and a corresponding colored dot is put on the calendar for that day. The sharpies are held in a container just inside the cabinet door (in the kitchen) near the sink. The same door holds the calendar...so all I have to do is open the door, grab the color of the day, mark a dot on the calendar, sign the names and put the sharpie back! and close the door...done!! If anyone comes up to me and asks me if their mug was cleaned that day I just point to the colored dot on the calendar and ask if their name is that color...easy peasy.
Why the round melamine tray with handles?
It IS the parking place!
The generous size of the tray holds all of the mugs and has enough room for a small pitcher of iced tea. My tray was purchased at Target and it is so easy to clean. It holds any spills and keeps the mugs corralled together. We can easily move all of the mugs from the counter top to the table without making multiple trips. The handles on the tray do make it very easy to balance the load and the lip on the tray keeps the mugs from falling off during transport! The transporting is done by an older child or parent. Most of the day the tray has a parking place at the end of the counter. It is SO worth the counter space! It is the drink center. It is near the coffee pot(or press!), tea bags or whatever else we make drinks with. Convenient~!
My counter top is a lot less cluttered and a LOT dryer. Most of the pouring messes go into the tray and it is an easy fix to clean that up. And it is very easy to move if we need to use the counter for food prep...easy to move and easy to put back!
And as for the sharpie on the mugs?
My mugs do come clean of their marks with a little elbow grease and soap and hot water. Not all mugs will erase that easily so you might want to test the sharpie on an inconspicuous spot on your mugs first. I do find that some mugs hold a bit of a shadow when I erase the name off in the water, but it does fade away quickly.
Now when "not me" leaves their mug in the forbidden areas of the living room, I can quickly find the name of that errant rascal and make him pick up the mug himself and put it in its parking place on the tray. If I see anyone drinking from a mug that is not their own, I can easily tell. It cuts down on the need for mommy to be omniscient ALL of the time. (You know, being omniscient gets so tiring!)
Washing is easy. I just count to 9 and it is all done...well...11 if you count me and dear husband ;o)