I have three secrets to surviving full time motherhood and full time employment combined. These secrets will be especially useful in an era that has moved beyond the 40 hour work week. And that would be, of course, the era we’re in. The “full time week” doesn’t mean what it used to; I would love to have a career in which “8-to-5” means something. In which “lunch break” means something. In which “home” means something…like something different from “work,” for starters. But all that changed with internet and cell phones and email. “Telecommuting” is something that few people use as a term but gobs of people use as a mode for living, or should I say gobs of companies use as a source for revenue, since they count on their employees doing email work from home, logging into the company’s system to check on things, trying to get a jump on tomorrow, except of course they don’t get a jump on it because tomorrow brings with it a whole slew of other emails and virtual world issues that have to be jumped into, not to mention all the live, tangible world issues cropping up through the workday. All of this betraying our belief in some fictional boundary that ostensibly separates “home” from “work.”
Balance shmalance I say. She’s a clever one, that. Ever elusive, ever out of reach, ever taunting me when I think I see her peeking out of the window dressings of other people’s lives. I can’t say I’ve ever “found” balance; she’s a slithery one, she is. And all of this points to an urgent need for survival secrets. So I’m here offering mine:
Spray bottle, underwear, and crockpot.
Those are my secrets. Those are what keep me from falling over the edge (or jumping off it). Let me briefly elaborate on one.
First, the spray bottle. I am expected to dress nice for work, professional even. And though I never quite pull off the latter, I do accomplish the former and this is largely b/c of my spray bottle. This miracle of not-very-modern science has rocked my world. I have one hanging up and easily accessible in my closet and one likewise in my bathroom. I take one with me every time I travel. This marvel eliminates the need for ironing my clothes and at the risk of sounding like I would in billion years iron anything I wear anyway, I should say too that it has revived many a crumpled clothing item under my bed or under the shoes and bags that cover my closet floor. I’ve even revived items that made it to the laundry basket and given them one more go round before finally succumbing to having my husband wash them. His laundry skills have improved significantly and my micromanagement skills have decreased significantly, two feats which, when combined, makes for more time for other stuff, at least for me. So to maximize the benefit of secret #1, all you have to do is decide the night before what you’re wearing, pull it from under your bed (or wherever you keep your nice clothes), hang it up and douse it with water spray. By morning it looks nearly ironed and sometimes even nearly clean, which is close enough for me. Now every once in a while an item is made of a fabric that requires more drastic measures. Those I put back under my bed. The spray bottle revives soccer uniforms that we forgot to wash but are nearly clean enough for one more go; it revives cleaned and dried clothes that sat in the dryer since two weekends ago, and permanent press that went through the ringer with the towels. It also gets the pointy shoulders out of shirts that have been hanging since last season, or the crease in pants across the back of our knees that comes from the pants hanger, which you don’t see till you’re walking out of the bathroom and look back for a once-over but no worries—this can be doused as you’re leaving the house and it’ll be nearly dry by the time you get to work. Listen, my toddlers hated being wet on the way to school, but they’ve adjusted. And you can too.
Next week: Secret 2