Mean Time


I’ve been timing. You get about 20 minutes.

From the time you set Stellan down to do something, to the time when he starts fussing and needs to be picked up again, that’s about how much you can reliably count on having to yourself. Sometimes you’ll luck out and get four hours, but since you can’t ever predict when those four-hour stretches will occur, you can’t plan on doing anything that will take longer than 20 minutes.

Which means I’ve gotten really efficient about certain tasks. Such as eating. We used to eat too quickly anyway, but now we can stuff down a full meal in approximately 5 minutes, which leaves a whole quarter of an hour for cleanup.

And cleanup. My dish-washing method used to be leave them to pile up until you run out of dishes, and then do them all at once. Then for years it was let Emily do them. Those were good years. Now it’s do them right away, get them in the dishwasher as soon as you’ve finished eating, because that’s all you’re going to have time for anyway. (And it turns out that in terms of total energy expended per dish, this is much more efficient: the ‘leave them in the sink’ strategy involves a lot of careful stacking for maximum sink density, as well as soaking to prevent hard-to-scrub-dried-on-crunchy-bits, plus inevitable scrubbing of dried-on-crunchy bits; all of which can be skipped now because there’s no time for things to dry or get crunchy. I kind of knew this already, but pretended I didn’t so I could leave them stacked up longer.)

Some tasks I’ve gotten so efficient at that I hardly do them at all. Shaving, for example. Or bathing. Most personal hygiene, in fact. But since I’ve worked as a freelancer for a dozen years, that hardly counts as a change.