Tip #200: Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping…
This is the 200th tip I’ve written about living in a small space. Tip and small are both loosely defined here. These posts are sometimes just small space progress reports, or personal pep talks, or general musings that only tangentially relate to apartment living. Forgive me and allow me to introduce our new dishwasher. This not-so tiny apartment now has a full-sized dishwasher. I cannot overstate the amount of time it is saving us, to say nothing of counter space.
This is not an endorsement of a particular kind of dishwasher. Our landlords agreed to replace an old and very cranky combination washer/dryer that was in our apartment when we moved in September. They chose the new machine and so I don’t have any special intel to offer on model or make, only thanks in multitudes. No doubt having any kind of dishwasher at all is a privilege that’s not afforded to everyone.
For our part, we’ve lived in apartments with dishwashers and more apartments without them, but when we moved at the beginning of September it was the first time we’d been without a dishwasher since having kids. The awakening was immediate and rude. Keeping up with the breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes each day was time consuming enough, but add to that pile the reusable lunch containers and bottles that return from daycare with a fine patina of yogurt smears and avocado film. Stack up the breast pump parts and milk bottles that secret away stores of stink if you’re not fastidious. Consider that children under six cannot always be trusted to remember which of the water glasses they last deposited their crumbs into and that a sink can be filled with glasses alone in the space of an afternoon.
In a year when every minute of the day feels like it needs to be accounted for and optimized, we were spending multiple hours a day elbow-deep in dishwater. Hours that were already compromised by the competing demands of childcare and work and remote school were getting lost to scraping butternut squash remains from baby jars and boiling pump parts on the stove. When we weren’t actively washing or drying dishes, our available counter space was being colonized by them. We started planning meals around how many dishes they would require. “Are you sure you need a plate for your toast, dear?”
The dishwasher alone isn’t going to solve the ongoing crisis of parenting in a pandemic, not for us and not for anyone, but every one of the minutes that we’ve reclaimed from the kitchen sink is a minute we’re grateful for. Last week, I found the time to crack open a can of paint and begin the process of giving a fresh coat to the walls and ceilings and snaking moldings of this old apartment. I hung slapdash drapes cut from drop cloth to cover windows-turned-fishbowls by newly bare trees. I dusted off my old newsletter and plan to send my first letter since March later today. Right this very minute, I know the machine is whirring quietly in kitchen, spraying piping hot water and soap at breakfast dishes like some kind of magic trick. I’ll take all the magic I can get.