This is where it gets difficult…
For the past few years, my whole focus on green living, whole foods and frugality, reducing waste in my home, and so forth has been a challenge but a manageable one.
I can tell, after one week of classes, that this is where it’s going to get very difficult.
My new life as a full time grad student started last week. Five days a week I leave the house somewhere between 6:30 and 7:00am, depending on what classes I have that day, and I return home maybe 5:45 each day. In the past, I have been able to sort of nuance the slow cooker stuff, the bread baking, the lunches, and so forth, with a little bit of freedom in my schedule. Now–pretty much no freedom at all, or very little. And a few extra challenges I hadn’t planned on:
Challenge #1: coffee. I make my own, and I love my own coffee. But my train connection most days leaves me with about 15 minutes extra…and there’s a Dunkin Donuts right by my train platform…it beckons, it lures, it calls to me…which is bad on all fronts, because then I’m not only spending money and generating more trash, but I’m also drinking too much coffee and experiencing the physical side effects thereof. Not a good thing.
Challenge #2: my own lunches. By the time I’m done making the kids’ lunches and getting everyone dressed and out of the house, my own lunch is the last thing on my mind. Even when I remember to bring a travel mug with my own coffee (which is of course gone long before I hit Dunkin Donuts), I still seldom have time to deal with my own lunch. So I buy something–usually something fairly innocuous like a bagel or soup, but there’s always more garbage involved than there would be if I made it myself. And it’s a waste of money.
Challenge #3: Family dinners. Arriving home at 5:45, who has time to prepare anything but pasta or naan pizza or a rotisserie chicken picked up on the way home? Slow cooker food, yes…but who has time to even manage that when you have to leave the house at 6:30am? And most of my slow cooker recipes would be dried out if they cook for the full 8-10 hours the pot allows.
What’s working: I’m still managing the waste-free lunches for the kids. I’m still managing to get something “real” on the table most nights for dinner. I’m remembering to bring my travel mug most days, which means I can have tea at the office once I’m there. I don’t have time or money at this point to indulge in much discretionary spending, and I’m taking the train almost everywhere and putting very few miles on my car. I’m walking at least a couple of miles a day, putting very few miles on my car.
But I’m going to have to work on the other stuff.
For example: I can make soup and/or bread over the weekend, maybe get a thermos or something, and take my own lunch without much muss or fuss. I can make meal plans for each week, and while pasta and our little DIY pizzas can still have their place in it, maybe I can use some combination of freezer and slow cooker on the other days to make something better.
The Dunkin Donuts thing…well, I’m still not sure about that. It’s a work in progress…
I feel a little weird about this. For the past couple of years I have been preaching this doctrine of Green, with my flexible schedule and relative ease of making it happen. And now I’m in the position that a lot of working moms (and dads) are in, leaving the house at the crack of dawn and coming back at dusk exhausted just in time to throw together something for dinner.
So there will be a learning curve, that’s for sure. We’ll see how it all goes.