By the time you read this I will be seriously jet-lagged, bedraggled and working in Frankfurt, Germany. I will have taken the overnight flight, crunched myself into a little ball in my coach seat, swallowed two Benadryl with the hopes of catching some shut-eye before I landed, brushed my teeth in the airport restroom and headed off to work. Not very glamorous. Ahh, the life of a working mom.
And therein lies my challenge. How to be green when you're across the pond and you've left 4 children, 1 husband and 2 dogs to fend for themselves? Don't even add to that the guilt, sadness and worry a mom feels about flying overseas... But that's for a different kind of blog, so I will leave that subject alone before it brings me to tears. Snif.
Being a green working mom takes some planning. Lots of planning, list making and more planning. Here are my tips for green moms leaving on that jet plane:
1. Lists, lists, lists... My husband is actually really, really good about taking care of all those kiddies while I am gone. But, honestly he has no idea what is in our freezer. None whatsoever. That said, I have no idea what is in our garage, none whatsoever, so I think it's fair.
I make a list, by meal category, of what is available to make, heat or defrost. I learned the hard way, NOT to TELL him what he has to make, but just simply list out what is available for meals and snacks. This really cuts down on the last minute meal stress and keeps the kids full, happy and healthy. Without the trips to Mickey-D's.
2. Convenience... I make an extra effort to look for simple items that will help make everything run smoother. Bananas, apples and oranges are easy to pack in lunches - no slicing or dicing needed. String cheese and granola bars are at the ready. I defrost blueberry muffins and place them in the cookie jar where they will be eaten quickly. And so on... Make it easy and they might eat healthy. Leave them to wonder what's in the pantry and they will search for junk food! Or walk to the corner store to buy some...
3. The airport blues... I get stuck in airports fairly often, so it can be hard to resist the junk food, magazines and such. Rather than buy junk or end up with magazines I only read two articles in, I treat myself and stock my iPod or computer with lots of TV shows and / or movies I wouldn't have the time to watch at home. It's a treat for me and it keeps my mind off flying and buying!
4. Laundry woes... I remind my husband that the boys know their jeans don't need to be washed after being worn for an hour (it's easier to throw them on the floor and call them "dirty" rather than put them back in a drawer) and that everyone has a brand new, clean towel that won't need to be washed until I return - as long as it makes it back onto it's towel hook above the heater vent to dry before it's next use. Basically, patrol the floors once a day looking for wayward junk. This helps to cut down how much laundry either he needs to do while I am gone or I need to do when I get back. And, for those of you out there who say my boys need to do the family laundry themselves? I will show you my brand new organic denim jeans that are now 2 inches too short. Flood pants courtesy of a 13 year old in a hurry. No thanks. They have other chores that don't involve my clothing, so we're sticking with those until the shock of seeing my shortie jeans wears off.
And, for myself? I save all of the plastic bags from the drycleaner (sorry, no green cleaners in my neck of the woods!) and use them to separate my clean clothes from the dirty and to help keep clothing wrinkle free, so it can be worn again before another cleaning or washing.
5. Guilt gifts... Whaddya gonna bring me momma? My 4-year old loves little trinkets from the road, my older boys secretly love them too. Rather than bring home useless junk, I collect French or German magazines and newspapers from the hotel or the airplane, which my older boys have learned bring them nice extra credit from their foreign language teachers. After that, I hit a local grocery store while I am in town. My boys have sampled different foods and snacks from countless countries and they think it's great adventure. And, for the 4-year old? A trinket (free!) from the tradeshow I attended (flashlight, bouncy ball, keychain...) usually does the trick.
If I happen to be traveling stateside? I usually stock up on lightweight and small craft items, stickers, coloring activities etc. and stash them in my suitcase once every few months. I don't always have time to even think about what I am bringing home while I am on the road, so to keep me from buying airport junk, I just rely on my stash hidden in my suitcase and - TaDa! Look what I brought you! And yes, I know I don't HAVE to bring them anything. But, really, I am guilty enough already and if the fun and excitement of some trinkets makes it easier for them (and me!) 'nuf said. I'm doing it.
And, I'm off... I'll be back in a few days armed with newspapers, a bag of German candy and a whole lotta jet lag! But, I'll be glad to be home, even if I have to do the laundry.