The Story of Color Coordinated Drinking Cups

Everyone has a little OCD


It was Christmas time and my dad was in town for a visit. Always trying to lend a helping hand, my dad is willing to help whenever he can. Most times, his preferred way is by loading and unloading the dishwasher. On this particular visit, it only took a few days of him being in our home before he had put our kids on notice over the amount of cups needing to be washed every day. Things got so bad that my father even felt compelled to go out and purchase us new glasses in fear that we didn’t have enough for our home.

Fast-forward to the New Year and my desire for a more organized household. I realized that my father had a point and that we were going through too many drinking cups every day. I already knew the reasoning behind this issue. It was too easy to lose track of which cup belonged to who since every cup looked the same. People couldn’t tell one from the other and would instinctively reach for a new one rather than risk drinking after someone else.

Color coding cups was a topic I had dabbled with in the past. There was only one hitch with this plan though. Our house had four colors of cups for six people. This factor made some people less than eager to follow the color coding guidelines. If this strategy was going to work, everyone needed to participate. Even the adults!

Within a week (thanks Amazon!), everyone had his or her own colored cups. Problem solved, right? Wrong! Some skilled diplomacy was still needed to overcome who received which color since my house has four strong and independent children. After a few small compromises, we were able to get everyone to sign a declaration of peace and life could move forward.

Before long I was standing in our kitchen ready to begin my twenty-minute tutorial on the etiquette of colored cups and the purposes behind them. Within this mini lesson, I explained that a person’s colored cup must remain out all day. I showed them where to place them and that if they went from juice to water, they simply needed to rinse the cup out first. I showed them what do if we had company and answered any other questions they could possibly come up with relating to colored cups. After a decent amount of time, my teenager, Blue Eyes finally said, “Okay Mom, I think we all get it.” I then proceeded to use a sharpie to write each person’s name on their designated cups.

I began to consider how insane I sounded about these cups. I soon came to the conclusion that sometimes insanity is just a part of motherhood. These color coordinated cups and the detailed system of their use was a justified result of the fact that I had the dishwasher running constantly.

The fact of the matter is that sometimes everyone needs to let a bit of OCD overtake their lives. There is no better motivator than a persistent problem that only requires some stringent organization and obsessive focus to overcome. I don’t generally have issues regarding OCD in my daily life. The overuse of cups is just one of those things where a simple daily chore was sending me over the edge. Thankfully, sanity is now a far more common guest in my home thanks to this minor step towards organization.


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