So it’s back to normal for Good Enough Mother and the kids following yesterday’s snow day. You know what that means, the usual morning chaos which begins by begging two sleepy teenagers to get out of bed and pick out something to wear (that is weather appropriate, not shorts as Cole is want to do) and ends with finding a breakfast that they will a) like enough to eat and b) that will give them enough nutrition and energy to get through the morning. Well, actually that’s not the end. The end is when we jump into the family roadster and head to school (yes, I drive them and no I am not proud of that fact).
But today I was in for a little gift when I got home! You see in her weekly GOOP newsletter actress Gwyneth Paltrow (who’s married to rocker Chris Martin of Coldplay), offers advice for busy working moms on how to manage it all. Whew, I thought, just in time!
Until I read it. Now before I go further let me state I am well aware that I am not an A-list actress, a venture capitalist or a successful designer, like the moms featured in the newsletter. I’m just a commando entrepreneur trying to keep my marriage on track, raise two kids successfully and carve out a little time for myself. In the interest of full disclosure I must say we are not rich but we’re not about to starve either. Even though my home still has paper shades on the windows (three years after the renovation) it’s decent, if you can get past the faint odor of cat pee. But when I read these tips the first thing I thought of was, man, I gotta get all of these women to Wal-Mart. Or Costco. Or the Dollar Store. And they need to ride in the back of my SUV, filled with dog hair and fast food wrappers. Kidding. Sort of. But seriously to whom are they talking exactly? Not any of the busy, working moms in my neighborhood. These women, and I ain’t mad at ‘em, are busy, working moms with MONEY. That makes a difference namely because you can hire an extra set of hands. So against that backdrop I offer up these, Good Enough Mother’s tips for busy, working moms on a BUDGET.
GOOP TIP: Juliet de Baubigny is one of Gwyneth’s friends and a mother of two young children. A partner in a venture capital firm, she suggests getting weekly blowouts so you don’t have to wash your hair everyday. Okay the fact that she would even suggest that shows how out of touch she is with real, working moms. A blowout in Manhattan averages anywhere from 55-85 bucks, not including tips. I’m no math whiz but even I can deduce that 85 x 4 = hungry children. I don’t know about you but I can’t afford 330 bucks a month on just blowing my hair out. And that’s over and above cut, color and all the other maintenance.
GOOD ENOUGH MOTHER TIP: Two things: 1) Spend money on a good cut and one that can look decent as a wash-n-go and 2) go to Youtube.com and find out how to do a professional blow-dry yourself at home. If time is an issue, do it the night before and fluff it up the next day. Money spent? Just the amount on a good cut.
GOOP TIP: Another tip from Juliet, who suggests having a trainer come to your house as it keeps her from crawling back in the bed. The hinge on this lady’s wallet must be broken because dollar bills are flying out faster than feathers on a worn down comforter. It costs about a hundred bucks a session to have a trainer come to your house and put you through the paces. For busy, working moms on a budget, $100 x 3 x 4 = hungry children and not enough money to cover the mortgage.
GOOD ENOUGH MOTHER TIP: Okay I have been working out and the trainer comes to my house. But I split the session with 5 other women, which makes it a bit more cost effective. Plus there are also things you can do on your own and I have done them for years. Walking the dog (fast) with lunges sprinkled in; go to Target and buy a set of hand weights. You will still have to find the motivation within yourself. Maybe it could come from the new dress you buy with the money you save from not hiring a trainer?
GOOP TIP: Juliet makes steel cut oats, puts them in a baking pan and then slices into portions and eats. Or, when pushed for time, opts for a Shaklee shake, which runs about 30 bucks for 16 servings. Open wide, wallet.
GOOD ENOUGH MOTHER TIP: Buy the family size box (any warehouse store), individual packets of Quaker oats. Yes, it’s got a bit of sugar; yes, it might not be as healthy as steel cut oats. But it’s warm and fast. Or you could opt for the leftover fettuccine alfredo Cole ate this morning. Again, fast and warm (we’ll go low-fat somewhere else in the day).
GOOP TIP: Juliet was lucky enough to have someone gift her a make-up lesson and she learned how to put her face on in 15 minutes. That’s lovely but you know that wasn’t cheap either (yes, I know, she and clearly her friends, can afford it). Juliet also recommends getting your manicure and pedicure together, in order to save time.
GOOD ENOUGH MOTHER TIP: Repeat after me, YouTube is your friend; learn it, live it, love it! If you go to the search window and type in “how to apply make-up” more than a quarter of a million videos pop up. Surely you can learn from ONE of them? I also pick up magazines or peep the articles online to see what’s hot in beauty and clothes. Then I learn how to do it myself with stuff I buy at the drug store (I only buy foundation at department stores). Learn to put it on and take it off under less-than-desirable conditions. Yesterday, I removed mine in the bathroom of the Amtrak station while the male attendant cleaned stalls. Really.
For the mani-pedi: If can get out of your house for an hour and a half and don’t have to tack the babysitting sitter fee on top of the 60 bucks for a basic mani-pedi, then go for it. But if you’re in a hurry and money is tight, try this on for size. Sally Hansen makes a nail polish pen and it’s quick drying too! I keep an emery board in my wallet and this in my make-up bag. Does it look as good as a professional manicure? Not the way I do it but it’s good enough for me to show my hands on TV. I don’t worry about my feet until summer or a big, black tie event, in which case I only paint the nails that can be seen through the peep toe heels.
ORGANIZING YOUR HOME LIFE:
GOOP TIP: Juliet recommends using a spreadsheet at home to make sure you remember to bring proper clothes and toys when going on vacation. Apparently she forgot to pack her kids underwear not once but twice. The spreadsheet keeps her from repeating that mistake.
GOOD ENOUGH MOTHER TIP: That spreadsheet to her is known as a list to the rest of us. We write down what we need to bring on vacation, typically as we are packing the night before. And I too, have forgotten to pack kid’s underwear; luckily they sell that most everywhere in the world.
Along with the list I have a very simple way to manage my appointments and those of my children. I write them down, not on a spreadsheet but my calendar. I enter everyone’s appointments, along with 17 reminders for each event. I beep more than the Tin Man going through airport security. When invitations come in the mail, I hold it IN MY HAND, until it is entered in the calendar (along with pertinent details like time and locations). The invite itself goes into a manila folder that is kept in a super, duper top-secret location so my kids don’t remove it. I also keep the class phone list and my pin numbers in there. If that folder goes missing, we’re toast.
There are a few good things in the ladies’ list of recommended tips, like making all your medical appointments in the same day and donating time to a charity. And I totally subscribe to the girlfriend get together, but when we gather, we have been known to drink wine from a box and there is no trunk show by Philip Lim (what would HE say about the cat odor?). I appreciate these women’s suggestions but outside of giving birth there’s not too much more we share. Who doesn’t want to be on easy street with thousands of dollars a month to spend on you and only you? I know I do; why else would I work so hard? And I don’t begrudge them their success. But to portray yourself as one of us, just one of the girls and then go on and on about organic food and spending nearly four-grand a year on blowing out your hair seems a little, oh I don’t know, gross? Thanks but no thanks.
So if you need me, you know where I’ll be – shopping the early bird special at Kohl’s, clipping coupons and drinking wine out of a jelly jar.
But what’s your take on Gwyneth’s GOOP and her friend’s tips? Do you have some of your own? Lemme hear ya!