Saturday, June 4, 2011

How a pressure cooker saved my life


Juanita Phillip's book 'How a pressure cooker saved my life' (2010) carries the byline 'how to have it all, do it all and keep it all together'.  I think that might be promising just a tad more than the book can fulfil, but I did enjoy this book.

Juanita Phillips is a Sydney TV newsreader, married with two children.  When her children were small she had a very public meltdown where she lost her voice while reading the news and couldn't keep going.   On YouTube if you're curious.

It's partly a recipe book (yes, with pressure cooker recipes in it) and a book reflecting on how to manage life as a working mother.  She talks about how stressed out she got working full-time while juggling her small kids.  Her husband was looking after them while she worked but because she starts work at 3pm she would do the morning shift and then he'd take over.  Not surprisingly she got very tired.

The pressure cooker provided her with a way to cook in bulk and cook healthy meals quickly (I felt quite convinced by her pressure cooker passion but probably not enough to go and buy an actual pressure cooker).  There's also a lot in the book about how to be more efficient with your time.

One of the big changes they made in their family was to reduce the amount of electronic and kitchen equipment they had - her questioning of why they accumulated what they had is quite interesting.  She also suggests saying 'no' a lot.  Say no to joining a mailing/emailing list because it will reduce the amount of junk mail and emails you have to sort through.  Get rid of clutter because you'll have less stuff to tidy up.

Another aspect I enjoyed was her reflections on her husband's way of looking after the children. One of the things she found frustrating was that he wouldn't do things (like housework, kid's routines) in the same way she'd like them done - in fact, the way she thought was right.  It seemed to her that he wasn't doing what needed to be done.

She says,

"An at-home dad doesn't do the same things an at-home mum does.  Any working mother who arrives home from a hard day at the office expecting a spotless house, freshly bathed children and a glass of wine waiting is bound to be disappointed.  She may, however, find that a retaining wall's been built, the rabid possum's been evicted from the roof, and the kid's suddenly know how to play tennis.

That's the first thing you learn about role reversal - it's not a straightforward swap of breadwinning and caring roles.  It's more like chucking the whole lot into the air and each person doing what they can, depending on time and circumstances.

Men and women do things differently.  Not better, not worse.  Just differently." (page 141)

This has certainly been our experience.  Why do my kids love a day with dad?  Because he won't be madly running around trying to fold the washing and tidy up (although he does do a lot of that) - he'll be spending time helping them make some wacky creation they have in their head.  Or installing a new computer game for them.  Or fixing the flat tyre on their bike.  

Anyway - I enjoyed the book.  Easy to read.  Had some helpful things to say.  And she doesn't have a nanny - so I felt like she 'gets' it.


4 comments:

Jo said...

I read that book a while back and enjoyed it too. Still thinking about buying that pressure cooker though, they scare me!

Karen said...

I read it a few months back too. Although I have heard that since she published this book she has separated from her husband??
And another one here who is slightly scared by pressure cookers, even though my Mum had one when we were growing up and I do remember the sound of it hissing away on the stove! (and it never blew up...)

Motherhugger said...

After our conversation in the park about maybe our standards are too high, I suggested to the children we have something on toast for dinner. The oldest cried, saying 'you need to make us a proper dinner'.

KateJ said...

Buy a pressure cooker Jenny, they're fantastic! I was scared too, but the modern ones don't explode (they automatically release if the pressure gets too much) and it's astonished me how quickly I can make stews, curries etc. It's great for cheap cuts of meat as you can get the effect of slow-cooking in 20 minutes or half an hour. It's so worth it!