Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vegan Pumpkin Muffins and Work-Life Balance

So, as most working moms know, we tend to have issues from time to time with work-life balance. Truly, it's not just moms. It's dads, and non-parents as well. Whenever you are deciding how much time to spend...working, sleeping, exercising, cooking, being with family and friends, there is going to be some push-pull going on. In my case, always the pull from work as I push them back.

My work hours have gotten steadily longer over the last year. Where once I left at 4 pm, now it is 4:30 pm. And the pull gets worse. I've had folks ask why I don't work after 5. I've been asked to work weekends (on a regular basis, from home. I'm not talking about the "emergency" stuff.) I've been asked at 4:30 pm to do "just this one more thing". Of course I say no because I have to pick up my kid. My explanation, of late, has been of the "it's $1 per minute for every minute that I am late picking up my son from school" variety. Now, my girlfriends get offended by that answer and think that I should just say "no, I'm a mom, my kid comes first." Well, duh. That's the real answer. I'd rather spend more time with my kid. Yeah yeah. While that is the truth, I have to face facts here.

I am an anomaly. I am the only full-time working mom in my company (with a young child). Out of 70 people. I am a woman in a man's world, and I have to speak the language that they will understand. Sure, the dads get it (especially those with working wives!) But the men without kids...they don't. They may try. But they really don't get it. However, they do speak the language of money, and they all understand that $1 per minute is $60 per hour, and by the way, I don't make $60 an hour.

I'm in a job where working longer hours is encouraged and praised. However, I don't enjoy being penalized for being efficient (using my friend Kelly's terminology). If I can get the same work done in 40 hrs that it takes someone else 50 to do, that does not mean I need to be working 50 hrs. While I have no problems coming in on weekends during emergencies, I simply will not be working late every day. I'm okay being the person to constantly fight the pressure to work long days, because I'm confident in the quality and quantity of my work. (And truly, when the sh*t hits the fan on the weekend, who is the first one to come in and fix stuff? Yeah, that's right, it's usually my boss, but if he's out of town, it's me.) I am definitely a "do what it takes" employee, but I simply don't have the luxury (or the desire) to spend 60 hours at work and never see my kid. I already outsource the cleaning. If I try to outsource the cooking (by eating out, buying convenience food), or cut back on exercise, I'll just get fat, and sick. I know this because I used to weigh 182 lbs. And my blood pressure was through the roof.

The upshot of all of this is that no matter what I do at work, at home, I have to start job #2. I generally get home at 5:15 pm, and have to cook dinner. Even with the bulk-cooking that I do on the weekend, I have to put at least 20-30 minutes into cooking. So I get home with a little boy who wants to PLAY PLAY PLAY. His second choice is to watch TV. But I prefer to limit his TV to 1/2 hr per day. Which he often gets to watch in the morning while we shower. So, that means I have to PLAY. Or distract him. That's where the pumpkin muffins come in.

I am finding that while it's not "playing", having him help me cook is a great way to have fun, interact, keep him busy, and teach him skills, all at the same time. He's been so excited to make muffins. They made them at school. I needed a recipe, so I dug out my favorite Isa cookbooks. Vegan Brunch had a pumpkin muffin recipe with wheat bran and whole wheat pastry flour. Don't have either of those. So I moved on to VWAV. The PERFECT recipe according to the book.

Except for one tiny thing. The recipe makes 12 muffins, and has 1.25 cups of sugar. Let's do the math, shall we? 1 cup has 16 tablespoons. So 1.25 cups of sugar has 20 tablespoons, or 1.67 tablespoons (5 teaspoons) of sugar PER MUFFIN. Holy camoly!

I cut the sugar to 2/3 cup and they were still very sweet. Next time, I will cut to even less. When I think about it, a small muffin should probably have a tsp or less of sugar. 1 tsp x 12 muffins = 12 tsp = 4 TBSP = 1/4 cup. I think I'll cut the recipe to 1/3 cup next time.


MeloMeals said...

I think it's really good that you set boundaries with your employers in a language they can understand. I just wish that you didn't have to justify it at all.

It's great you cook so healthy for your son and get him involved after a long day.

Joanne said...

I love that you're balancing work and kids by getting your kids involved with cooking! Those pumpkin muffins look fantastic. I can only imagine how hard it is to set limits with work when no one else has to or to just say no. But I think you're really doing a great job so far!

Biz said...

I think cooking in the kitchen is the best time spent with your child - I had my daughter skinning garlic at 18 months while sitting on the counter!

Wow, that is a lot of sugar - I think you could easily cut it back to 1/2 a cup.

Marcia said...

Update: 1/2 cup was great. I don't think I will cut it any further