PhD vs home chores: a question no man will ever ask

A happy note: Last month I have finally finished a full draft and submit it to my supervisor, which has since returned it back with loads of revisions. I am grinding it now and hoping for official submission within this month.

On the other hand, it comes naturally that leading to submission point I find that there is no time to sufficiently do home chores. It is all good when there is a fixed point of submission such as during undergraduate and masters, where everything is finite and well accounted for. In my writing process, I felt that it often slides and extends more and more, it seems that it will never be finished.

Yet, in a home with kids, this leads to a problem with home chores. I would like to abandon everything and just do my work consecutively for a month like I did during my previous degrees, but I couldn’t do it now, and it is frustrating. First, there is kids to be fed and clothed rather properly (but my standard is pretty low on this-not aiming for perfection), and that the second, the deadline is not fixed, it can be a month, but it can be two months, which limit how far can you abandon your home chores.

I felt that although this is done by both parents, this mostly fall within the mental space of women within the households. At least most of my women friend with kids at the workplace also complained that they wanted to work more, read more, write more, but alas, they have to come home to either pick up kids, cook, nurse, or whatever it is they ought to be doing. I mean, you can not do laundry and fold for a couple of weeks, but you got to do it eventually. My office mate, a mom of two kids, went home early at 4 pm because she said she kept thinking of the pile of laundry that she needed to iron. On the other hand, all of our other male colleague would stay at their office until very late night, some even spend the night at office–and then returned home to sleep. Oh, the irony.

Despite all of this feminist rant, I want to do what is best and appropriate for my situation and working habit.  I looked at the internet that there are various tips for working mom. For cooking alone, these vary from doing night prep, waking up earlier, meal planning, making spices and food prep for weekly and so on. However, I thought that I couldn’t possibly consistently do a night prep as I am already tired at night and my motivation is quite low. I am a morning person, but I would prefer my morning time is used for working and not for cooking, for example. Meal planning, spice and food prepping sound good and I have done so in the past, but the idea of having to cook everyday is the one that makes me depressed.

Since last month I have fairly resorted to block cooking. I find that it is more manageable for me to cook a large batch of food for my family to eat in a week. I don’t have to cook everyday, which free my day for thinking about what to cook and free my evening (the time when I used to cook). I find comfort in knowing that my family have food, which make it easier if I want to do more work. And if my family does not want to eat the food, they could order takeout, which perhaps occur once in a week.

As an example, the photos above show menus for two different weeks. As an Indonesian, I mostly cook ayam ungkep (chicken that has been boiled with yellow spices and can be fried later, can also consist of eggs and tofu), some batches of ready to eat stir-fry food (in the left it is fish with chili and tofu and the left it is chicken with paprika), and I try to have at least one thing that is baby friendly (in the left it is perkedel–some kind of potato cakes, and in the right it is the kani roll–a kind of meatloaf, but made with chicken wrapped in a tofu skin and can be fried later). They are all stored in a chiller in my fridge (I am bad at managing freezer, so that why weekly cooking instead of monthly is better for me).

I usually cook vegetable soup every two days to accompany this food and to make my baby easier to eat with rice. Each batch can last my family of three adults and three kids five to seven days for lunch and dinner (although there are times when my husband wants to eat instant noodle, or I cooked something else for the baby). But the main point is, there is always food. If I don’t have clothes, I can always reuse (see, pretty low standards eh). But no food is sucks, and it really the ones that gets in the way in doing thesis (for me). At least food in the fridge makes a less depressed, happy mama!



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