How does she do it?

You know when people say "I don't know how you do it?"  Whether it's having a child at all, or having more children, or studying while working, or working and parenting, or living on a very tight budget or [insert your permutation]....?

I haven't always chosen to share the first thought that used to come into my mind, which was "I simply don't do housework."  Sometimes my children wanted to play with the children of the speaker, and I didn't want to scare everyone off.

Anyways, I made the decision to pay for two hours cleaning each week this year and it has been brilliant.  I almost never mention it in conversations though - some sense that it isn't quite the thing to mention.  But now that we have that support from the wonderful H each week, I realise that of all the women I've wondered "how does she do it?" at work, they probably all have a cleaner, and nearly all keep silent, just like me.  Over the years, I have gotten better at doing housework like folding laundry and keeping all rooms and tables functional in terms of clutter, and FH now cooks once a week and does the dishes all the other nights, the children contribute a little more and H sorts out the cleaning stuff I hate the most, so life is semi-respectable at the once-was-messiest house in Wetville.

So what's your biggest challenge?  Mine is feeding.  Humans need/want to eat soooooo frequently.  And it turns out that chocolate doesn't solve everything after all.  So my contribution to the procrastinatorzone (some call it the blogosphere) tonight is my latest pumpkin soup discovery.

#1.  pumpkin soup in a saucepan.  Sweat onion/garlic/ginger/celery in oil or butter, then add cubes of pumpkin and sometimes some red lentils.  Add water or stock and boil gently 'til it's cooked.  Takes around 45 minutes from start to finish and requires constant presence in the house, preferably in the kitchen.

#2.  Pumpkins soup in the slow cooker.  Chop all the above ingredients, and maybe some bacon and kale, and cook all day in the slow cooker.  Takes around 10-15 minutes to prepare and then can be left in the slow cooker while you garden/do paid work/sew/study/whatever.  You don't have to be in the house.

#3.  Today Fionn wanted pumpkin soup for dinner.  He reminded me of this at school pickup (3pm), but we had to go out again at 4.15pm and FH and the kids wouldn't be back until 6.20, as it turned out.  So I used my handy dandy cast iron casserole, and sweated the garlic/ginger/onions in oil, then added chunks of punpkin, chopped kale and chopped bacon.  The oven was already on cooking those skinny bratwurst sausages for my starving children, and when I took the sausages out, the soup mixture had come to the boil and I could put in the oven (150 celsius) and leave there for a couple of hours.  I think it would have taken 20 minutes of prep and bringing the mixture to the boil, and then I could leave the house while it was in the oven.  It turned out great.  So well there was only four mouthfuls left for me when I came home from yoga at 8pm. 

Did I just slip in that I made it to yoga?  Why yes I did.  I even managed to do some of the challenging holding stuff for a while.


Oh that is so true! Our family life works because we have SuperWoman to look after us. SW1 was part of our family for 9 years, with a combination of nannying, cleaning, cooking, washing, ironing and generally making sure all systems were go. SW2 has picked up the reins and keeps on looking after our family. I like to think that this helps the MOTH and I to actually focus on the children when we're at home, rather than finish one (paid) job and come home to start on all the rest of the work.

I do still love to cook - as the kids have got older and their palates are expanding, our meals tend towards the short and the long. The short is stir frys with rice noodles (can be on the table in around 20 mins) and the long is casseroles made in double quantities, with one batch frozen. These work particularly well when meals are staggered around swimming and gym and and and!

Thanks for your blog.
Sandra said…
My pleasure, Em. I think it is absolutely true that it takes a village to raise a child, and just as we pay the teacher, the doctor, the barmaid, the nurse and the swimming coach, it's truly reasonable to pay for SuperWoman assistance at home.
Julie said…
I get asked this question quite a bit, chiefly I think, because I sew. And if a person doesn't sew and considers sewing akin to a chore, the idea of sewing seems like the idea of cleaning out your fridge, oven, pantry and linen cupboard every day. So people wonder 'how I do it' - have kids and work and sew. And I always tell the truth which is - I have cleaner who comes each week for 3 hours and a nanny who comes on the three days I work and my dear old mum comes over ones a week for lunch and does a bit of ironing for me. I therefore have it infintely easier than the peple who appear to do less, but actually do more. I am very lucky that I work in a profession that means I can afford this help. By the time I have finished my reassuring run down on how easy my life really is, I worry I have done such a convincing job that the questioner will see me as a pretty slack arsed kind of person who really shold be doing more. When the truth is that, even with all this help, my life is incedibly busy and pretty chaotic and I'm still waiting for that elusive time to come when I've got it all sorted.

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