Tragic Sandwich

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Archive for the tag “work-life balance”

Why Our House Is a Disaster – Weekday Edition

caution tape

We’re refinancing, and on a recent Friday, we had a visit from an appraiser. The house was not even remotely clean, although I did set my alarm for 5 a.m. so that I’d have time to at least straighten up the living room (read: put things in stacks). Instead, I was so exhausted that I just kept hitting the snooze button. Sorry, appraiser.

Mr. Sandwich and I are constantly evaluating the way we spend our time, particularly on weeknights, so that we can finish everything we need to and be ready for the next morning, while still getting Baguette to bed. What does that look like right now?

5:30 a.m.

Get up, wash face and brush teeth, unload dishwasher, wash any dishes in sink and put in drain rack to dry, give dog her medicine, open dog door, take one egg out of the refrigerator, put skillet on burner (which is not yet turned on). If it’s a day when we send lunch for Baguette, prep thermos with hot water.

5:48 a.m.
Finish bathroom routine. Shower if I’m lucky.

5:53 a.m.
Go back to bed to keep Baguette from rolling out; Mr. Sandwich gets up, gets dressed, and leaves for work.

6:20 a.m.
Get up, counting on Baguette to not roll out; get dressed, pull her pre-selected clothes/socks/shoes off of the shelf, get diaper and wipes and put them with her clothes, scramble and cook egg, heat up food to go in thermos, put egg in portable container, put food in thermos, assemble her lunch bag, put her breakfast in her tote bag along with anything else needed that day (set out the night before). Put yogurt and granola in my lunch bag if set up the night before; otherwise plan to buy breakfast at work. Feed dog. Make sure back door is locked, cabinets are latched, stove is off, and refrigator is closed.

6:40 a.m.
Unplug anything that has been charging overnight and put in handbag. Go back to bedroom and change Baguette’s diaper. Put her pajamas in the hamper and dress her for the day. Comb her hair. After she lies back down, sit her up and comb her hair again.

6:50 a.m.
Make Baguette stand up and walk to front door. Pet dog goodbye. Pick up bags, lock door, coax Baguette down steps, put her and bags in car.

6:55 a.m.
Arrive at day care. Get Baguette and her bags out of car, sign her in, drop off tuition or hot lunch money or other paperwork as needed, and walk her to classroom.

7:02 a.m. If I’m lucky.
Leave day care. Drive to bus stop. Park car, run across street, hope to catch bus. If I do, hope to get seat. If I don’t, drive to work. It’s an hour either way.

8:05 a.m.
Enter building. Buy breakfast and coffee, or just coffee if I managed to pack my own breakfast (lunch is even less likely). Go upstairs and work.

5:00 p.m. Unless I have to work late.
Leave building. Walk to bus stop. Catch bus home.*

6:00 p.m. Unless traffic is worse than usual.
Exit bus. Get in car and drive home.

6:07 p.m.
Arrive home. Pet dog hello. Change clothes. Put away any dishes in drain rack. Pour milk into straw cups for evening and next day.

6:12 p.m.
Mr. Sandwich brings Baguette home. Feed Baguette as much fruit and/or Goldfish as she will eat.

6:25 p.m.
Take Baguette and dog for walk around the block (1/2-mile distance). Discuss day. Encourage Baguette to walk, but carry her for intermittent stretches. Let her run back and forth when the impulse strikes her.

7:10 p.m.
Return home. Pull together some semblance of dinner for Baguette while Mr. Sandwich helps her play with the hose (it’s hot out). Start her bath.

7:20 p.m.
Change Baguette’s wet clothes and feed her.

7:50 p.m.
Mr. Sandwich gives Baguette her bath. Set out her pajamas and nighttime diaper, take dog out, feed dog, close dog door, wash dishes from her dinner, empty her lunch bag and clean containers, straw cups, and thermos, probably wash the skillet from that morning.

8:05 p.m.
Dry Baguette off, put her in nighttime diaper and pajamas, let her watch Sesame Street. Continue to prep for next day, gathering any paperwork or materials needed for day care. Eat tortilla with peanut butter (if lucky).

9:10 p.m.

Go to bed. All of us, because otherwise Baguette won’t. (Note: That’s “go to bed,” not “go to sleep.” There’s no telling how long that could take.)

What’s missing from this picture?

*This is when Mr. Sandwich does as much laundry as humanly possible in 50 minutes. Neither one of us has time to fold it or put it away.

Photo by skyloader, via Flickr.


Having It All, or Not, or What?

So between Sheryl Sandberg, Elizabeth Wurtzel, Anne Marie Slaughter, and more, there’s a lot of talk about whether women can “have it all.”

The more I think about it, the more I think that phrase is meaningless. What is “all”? Is it work-life balance? Because that’s so individual–and depends on so many factors that we don’t truly control–that I’m not sure I believe in it.


But I have come across two statements that really resonate with me. The first is from Taiia Smart Young, who writes on My Brown Baby about choices, and “having what matters.”

The second is from Emily Rosenbaum, who in “Having It All” writes:

You want to talk about what matters to me as a feminist? Fistulas, FGM, rape, slavery, prostitution, domestic violence, healthcare, living wages, and maybe a bit of clean drinking water. Not whether some woman at Facebook thinks I should be holding down a full-time job.

Yeah. That sounds about right.

Photo by garryknight, via Flickr.

My Balance, Revisited

Nearly a year ago, I was inspired by a post by Oil and Garlic to write about my balance. So, where do we stand now?

1. What’s your work schedule?

I still drop Baguette off at 7 so I can be at work at (or around) 8, and I still work until 5 and am home a little after 6. All of this is likely to change on Friday, however, because the Rampture is coming–and that means all bets are off. I have no idea what my commute will be like for the next year, except that I know it won’t be good.

2. How do you handle childcare?

We still love Baguette’s day care. Mr. Sandwich’s parents come over to help around the house, but are less likely to babysit on weekend evenings; they have their own busy schedules, and it’s a lot harder to keep up with a toddler than it was to monitor an infant. However, one of her favorite teachers left the day care (not for reasons that concern us), and we’ve had her over for a get-reacquainted evening so that she can sit for us on occasion.

3. What do you find best about your current set-up?

It works, but just barely. Because of our jobs and commutes, we just don’t have enough time with her on workday evenings. We get home, go for a walk, eat dinner, give her a bath (while the other person fixes lunches for the next day), play a little, and go to bed. There just isn’t a lot of leeway in that schedule. But at least we have a routine.

4. What advice would you give to other moms about the juggle?

It doesn’t last forever–at least, not in this form. For a long time, I barely cooked at all. Now, I can manage to make a big batch of food in the slow cooker on Sundays, and that means lunches for several days that week. But being able to do that, which previously I could not, tells me that some day I will be able to cook meals with more than one dish.

5. Do you think the juggle is harder for women than for men?

Yes. There are no Daddy Wars, not even in the media.

Work-Life Balance

Work Life Balance

My Balance: Tragic Sandwich


I don’t know anyone in this photo; I just liked it!

I got this idea from a post on Oil and Garlic; she got it from A Cup of Jo. Does that make it a meme? At any rate, here goes:

1. What’s your work schedule?

I start work at 8 a.m. (or thereabouts, depending on whether my bus is on time) and leave at 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Mr. Sandwich works 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., so our schedules are a little staggered. We used to commute together, but when my maternity leave ended, we needed to shift it a bit. Each of us comutes by bus, although I sometimes drive to work if I have a late-afternoon doctor’s appointment, or if I miss the bus and my day doesn’t allow for me to be 15 minutes late. Or if I’m super tired and the bus is SRO by the time it gets to my stop.

My alarm goes off at 5:20, and I get up one snooze-button hit later. I drop Baguette off and drive like a crazy person to get to my bus stop. Mr. Sandwich picks Baguette up, and we all get home a little after 6 p.m. Then we play with her, take her and the dog for a walk, feed her, and bathe her when she needs it. (The order of these events varies depending on the day.) She hates to go to sleep, so there is usually a fairly long wind-down period, with lowered lights and hushed talking and a final bottle. We want her to go to bed between 8 and 8:30, but all too often she isn’t ready until about an hour later. Then we get our things and hers ready for the next day and watch a tiny amount of TV, and get to bed between 10:30 and 11:00–about an hour later than I’d like, but that’s how the time goes.

2. How do you handle childcare?

We found a wonderful day care center that is about a two-minute drive from the house. It’s like paying a second mortgage–and I am not exaggerating–but we have so much confidence in them, and Baguette really likes the teachers and her little friends. If she gets sick, one of us stays home with her. Mr. Sandwich’s parents live in town, so sometimes they will come over on the weekend and help us with supervising Baguette and completing tasks around the house.

3. What do you find best about your current set-up?

It works. I really like her day care, although I wish it weren’t so expensive. I wish my commute were shorter, but I live in the real world of Los Angeles, and that’s how commutes work here.

4. What advice would you give to other moms about the juggle?

Establish priorities, and don’t beat yourself up. I had fantasies of cooking meals for the three of us. This could work, because Baguette is a pretty flexible eater. This absolutely does not work, because I just don’t have time. I felt bad about it for far too long, and then I acknowledged that I really can’t do anything but supervise her when I’m with her–she’s just too active. So now I hope to be able to do that in the future. But it’s completely unproductive to feel bad about not doing something that I just can’t do.

One of my friends has a daughter a couple of months older than Baguette, and she makes amazing meals every night and spends time with her children. I used to wonder how she managed it, and then I mapped the distance between her house and her work. Guess what–she doesn’t have my commute! So she’s got more time to work with. It’s not realistic to compare my life to hers, because they just aren’t the same. That’s true for everyone else, too.

5. Do you think the juggle is harder for women than for men?

Yes. Mr. Sandwich is a very hands-on dad, and he’s also done pretty much all of our laundry for much of the past year. But Baguette is a very hands-on baby, and she wants me when I’m home. I feel like I’ve been mommy-tracked at work, and I made every effort that I could think of to avoid that. He’s got his own work issues (don’t we all?), but I haven’t gotten the impression that he’s been daddy-tracked. That can happen, of course, but I think it’s much less common.

Photo by neurmadic aesthetic, via Flickr.

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