The Time Machine I found is new, and yet mysteriously old.
It is revolutionary, and yet utterly traditional.
It’s a revelation, and yet the ultimate common sense.
Lean in close. I’m about to tell you something that honest to goodness reduces your time in the kitchen by half, gives some blessed margin to think creatively and actually enjoy cooking and meal prep, and dramatically reduces the need for last-minute pizza or take out when your day goes sideways. It generates extra time, reduces kitchen frazzle, and just plain makes you happier. Also, it’s utterly free.
You thought I was going to sell you an Instant Pot didn’t you? Nope! This is even better than an Instant Pot and if you know how much I love my IP, you know this endorsement is a big deal. I honestly would trade my Instant Pot for my Time Machine, even though it’s my favorite counter top appliance ever invented.
Where You Can Get One
I found my Time Machine in my sink. Be aware, you can’t find it when there is stuff in there. You have to clean first, but then, when your sink is empty, your dishwasher is humming, your drying rack is empty, and your counters are tidy, only then, if you pay close attention you can find it.
You can’t see it with your eyes, but when your dishes are done, you can feel it’s there and the magic will start to unfold.
Yes. That’s right. The habit of doing the dishes is a bona fide Time Machine.
It’s tongue in cheek, but it isn’t a joke at all. I could not be more serious.
Last month I completed a two-week dish washing challenge, and I was honestly surprised by what I learned.
Remedial Homemakers, your friends who do the dishes have more time than you.
They don’t have more time and therefore do their dishes every day.
They do their dishes and therefore have more time than you.
Don’t Believe Me?
Cooking Without a Time Machine:
Five O’Clock rolls around after a long day of home school, errands, or appointments. I’m tired now and not feeling particularly inspired. I head into the kitchen, move dishes aside, and figure out what to cook. What do I have? What will make the least additional mess? Is that pot even clean? Where is my favorite spatula? Before I start to cook, I unload the dishwasher, and begin to reload it while I’m cooking dinner. At the same time I’m trying to break up bickering, kiss owies, or play along with whatever imaginary game my kids have going. I’m frazzled, and trying to chop, prep, saute, wash, put away, find, and mother all at once. Dinner is served at 7:00 because all the multitasking made me less effective at the things I was trying to do. I’ve cooked a meal, but one I had to plan around the limits of my messy kitchen. I’m not enjoying it or being fully present so, when my husband comes home, I’m not able to stop and greet him properly. And when he offers to hold my butt for me while I cook (ahem), which he often does because he is an affectionate man and he loves when I’m in the kitchen, I have to try not to be annoyed.
Or, I have so little time, and I know I can’t pull together a meal in the 30 minutes I have because just putting the kitchen in order will take over half that time, so I ask my hubby to bring home a pizza.
Cooking With a Time Machine:
Same day, same parameters. This time I get to walk into my kitchen with all my tools and spaces available to me. I don’t have to devote mental energy to whether or not the things I need to cook will be clean. I am able to focus on the meal, and when the kids want me, I can attend to them better. I can even afford the time to invite them to help me cook. I put a little more effort into my meal, and I’m having more fun. I know that even if I make a meal that uses a lot of dishes, it won’t make an overwhelming mess. Also, there’s only today’s dishes in the dishwasher, so I know it will all fit when I run it tonight. I’m more calm. I’m able to pour a frosty glass for my husband and invite him to sit at the table and tell me about his day while I’m finishing the meal. His affections don’t add another thing to multitask so they don’t interrupt me like when I’m stressed out. Dinner is done by about 6:00 and the whole thing was more enjoyable and took less energy. I might even decide to make a batch of cookies just for fun.
Or, I have next to no time, but I am still able to pull something super quick together because I didn’t have to battle my space and I have and Instant Pot. We still order pizza sometimes, but on nights when we want it, rather than when I can’t get my act together and feel guilty.
Time Machine Bonuses:
This scenario is multiplied across all three meals.
My family, seeing the sink empty, and the counters reasonably clear, do not add to the clutter as much. Clutter attracts clutter.
My 11-year-old is interested in cooking and I can let her do that during the day when the kitchen is clean, without taking so much away from our school time.
The Horrible Awful Amazing Secret:
Doing your dishes each day takes literally half the time of not doing them.
That’s the truth. It’s horrible and awful because it’s so simple and I really didn’t understand why it mattered. It’s amazing because it’s not a gimmick and it actually does change how you experience homemaking.
I have lived as though being “tied to”, “obligated” or “constrained” by daily non-negotiable tasks limited my freedom and took from me. That’s a lie. A daily habit is a gift that gives way more than it takes. It actually makes me more free.
The discipline of habit formation liberates me to do what is best and most enjoyable, to do what I ought, rather than being a slave of the urgent.
It’s a big deal.
This next two weeks, I’m going to keep practicing washing my dishes and add the habit of emptying them in the morning. That was harder for me to do and it’s just as important as washing them.
This habit has nothing to do with whether you’re “good enough”. It shouldn’t add guilt, comparison, or pride.
It’s just a Time Machine. You can use it if you want and find out what I’m raving about, or not. It’s totally up to you.
For those of you keeping track, the habits I’m finding the most helpful to practice are:
And a whole lot of humility and repentance, with a sincere desire to not miss the point of homemaking.
If your house is an overwhelming mess, and you want to start without having a crappy day, start here, then go here. I hope that encourages you. Join our Facebook Community page for further discussion, or comment below.
May your aprons and bibles both be well-worn,
The Remedial Homemaker