Sat with Nat

Can automation give me more time for fitness?

Recommended Soundtrack: Robots by Flight of the Conchords, Mr. Roboto by Styxx, Robot Rock by Daft Punk

I purchased a rumba vacuum. Yes, I am very late to vacuum automation. It was only recently that a purchase like that was even conceivable for me, the cost wasn’t something that seemed achievable until now.

I have to admit it was the gentle cajoling of my sister that her robot did a great job and with the pets and humans in my life this would really help. She loved her robot vacuum and another good friend had offerd up her research and analysis. I was sold on the idea.

I named mine Romeo so that when it got stuck I could quip “Wherefore art thou Romeo?”. It’s the same reason our dog is named Lucy…”Lucy, I’m HOME!” I am a simple creature when it comes to comedy.

One night, as I was chopping vegetables for dinner, I couldn’t stop smiling as the robot whirred away down the hall. My beloved put the laundry on and the dishwasher was sloshing away at the lunch and breakfast dishes. I thought a lot about Hans Rosling’s great TED talk on The Magic Washing Machine.

He argued that liberating women’s time from manual house hold tasks led to better child development and education outcomes. If you haven’t heard his talks before I highly recommend them all. He passed away a number of years ago and his talks still hold up.

I know what it takes to wash clothes by hand without running water. Whether during long camping trips to military exercises where we were in the bush longer than I could stand the smell of my combats, grating soap, scrubbing with a washboard or on rocks then wringing by hand takes time. I still remember my maternal grandmother’s wringer washer in her yard next to the clothesline with the hose draped into it. We would tag team the wringing and hanging. It was an all day affair. Automation in clothes washing means a scant few minutes sorting and loading the machine then flipping the load into dryer. Folding takes mere minutes. The best part is not needing to mind the laundry, unlike in the wringer washer, so other activities can happen.

The same with dishes, loading takes a moment and other things can happen while the water sloshes around in the magic box. I find the same with my robot vacuum. It does a bang up job, far better than what I did. My floors are squeaky clean, I’ve raised my standards. Those standards had to be lowered before because I simply wasn’t able to get the cleaning done to a point where we were pet hair free. It seemed impossible.

So now I do spend some time managing the robot, figuring out how to optimize clean and keep out zones, designing routines and some maintenance. Overall though those tasks take way less time than the manual sweeping and vacuuming I had been doing.

A black round robot vacuum sits on it’s docking station with a tower for collecting debris on a hardwood floor. It is plugged into a green wall with white trim.

Automation and task sharing with my partner and our youngest kid (who is 20!) have helped me find more time for reading, writing, drawing, making music and, hopefully, working out regularly.

I am spending a lot of time in the garden weeding, watering, pruning, planting, harvesting and, well, enjoying the beauty and bounty of my naturalized space.

Thin brown branches of a currant bush arch downward, laden with large clusters of plump, bright red fruit that tuck under green velvety leaves.

Will automation allow me more time for working out? I don’t know but my house is the much cleaner for it!

Has automation of household tasks helped you do more things?