So, all along this blog has been about me me me. And while this has been a freeing and enlightening exercise in self expression, it is not at all fulfilling. So, I will take a cue from DIY parenting and create a weekly column, entitled: Work It! For Working Moms!
I am dreading my return to work, it means I have to juggle again. I love my children, and I want to spend as much time with them as possible. During my maternity leave, I’ve been experimenting with routine and tasks to create a balance that will give me the best of my time at home, and not leave my responsibilities as Wife, Mom, Employee, Woman, Chief Cook and Bottlewasher in the dust. This column will discuss some of these one idea at a time, and will run every Sunday (because I can write it ahead of time, and that gives me more family time on a Sunday!) You will hear from me what I found works, what does not work, and all from the unique perspective of a working Mom who not only works, but also works WITH working Moms, and their young‘ins. (I am a preschool teacher at a local learning center.)
Alright: Down to business!
I was thinking to myself the other afternoon as I was woefully staring at my dish pile while contemplating what to cook. Everything I wanted to cook required I wash something. Now, Moms, lets be honest with ourselves, we are not always the perfect Mom with the empty sink, and every once in awhile, dishes (and laundry) breed like rabbits, and before you know it, you have to wash something to cook something, at least if you have as sparse a dish collection as myself. I have 3 saucepans, 2 frying pans, and 2 large pots. That’s it for cooking dishes folks. This leaves me in a bind. If I chose to make eggs and pancakes one morning. 2 frying pans out. Then for lunch, mac n cheese, that’s 1 saucepan, and 1 pot. For supper, egg noodles and stir fry. Uh oh. No frying pan to substitute for a wok. Dang. Gotta wash it.
Now, ladies, haven’t we all faced this at one time or another? Or, as working Moms, several times in a week? (Or maybe I’m a worse housekeeper than I thought… hmm.) As I face the looming dishpile from a family of 5 on a daily basis, I think of when try to stick to Flylady’s rules: always wear your shoes when cleaning, make sure your sink is clean every night, do a 10 minute declutter every day… It ends badly. I clean and clean and clean daily, and do nothing else, and THEN, I have a dirty binge. Where I clean NOTHING for two days, and then realize my house is an UTTER WRECK! Lets face it, Flylady isn’t me, and I’m not her. Her rules are too strict for me. SO, a SORT OF clean sink every night is ok by me. I could do 2 dishwasher runs a day if I wanted. As it is, I stick with one. Maybe this kills me, I dunno. I also do the wash/cook rule (of my own making) which is as follows:
When I must wash a dish to cook, or if I COULD use a specific dirty dish (even if there is a clean one in the closet) to cook. I should wash that, PLUS more dishes either before or during cooking time. (while the noodles are boiling, or something is baking.) Its kind of like a cooking time trial. Like an Olympic event. I see how many dishes I can wash BEFORE somebody yells, cries, has a hissy fit, or loses their attention span at what activity I’ve got going for them (to be covered in another post) OR something burns! I get some dishes done, it doesn’t kill me, cause I’m already moving anyway, and, its kind of fun to race the clock.
And now: the piece de resistance! Every Sunday column shall end in a recipe. I don’t promise healthy, I don’t promise dairy free, but I DO promise quick, easy, adaptable recipes that end up in a cheap meal in that comes together in minutes.
Crunchy Chicken: (Prep: 5-10 minutes bake time: 20-30 minutes)
Crushed Corn Flakes (I ziplock baggie these in place of breadcrumbs, Allen buys Cornflakes on sale, and I save ’em for this.) (about a cupful)
Paprika (a dash)
Garlic Salt (a dash)
Shredded Cheese (optional. I like to blend mozzerella with cheddar)(eh, sort of a cupful)
Put ingredients into bowl. Blend.
Put Olive oil in another bowl.
Cut chicken breast into strips. Drag breast through oil, then mixture, place in pan. Bake at 375 for about 20-30 minutes depending on how thick the breast is. Serve with frozen veggies or salad. Another preferred side dish is noodles coated in olive oil with herbs.
This goes fast around here, and if you cut the breasts thin enough, you can limit portions very well and spoon out more of the frozen veggies and noodles, which makes the meal even cheaper. This is a good go to recipe for those days you need to grab out of the fridge and make something out of nothing.