A Pressure Cooker Saved My Life

A Pressure Cooker Saved My Life: how to have it all, do it all and keep it all together. 
Juanita  Phillips is a respected Australian journalist currently working as an ABC presenter. Her epiphany that a vintage pressure cooker could help to save her fledging endeavour into motherhood and the juggle of work and family life is compelling read. I really enjoyed  her candid and honest account of the hardship of doing life with two small children, the stress of a huge mortgage, juggling a career in the public eye, a marriage and more.
In her 2010 book, Phillips reflects on family life, food, how we use our time, keep our home, nurture our family and cook. Her research into how women in generations past had to work to complete the laundry, food preparation, cooking and cleaning is sobering. No longer do we wake at 4.30am on a Monday to light the copper to undertake the weekly washing!

The final focus on the pressure cooker and the recipes like the “7 minute risotto” are interesting. I don’t think Phillips started with a broad cooking repertoire before being forced to cook for her family. So the concept of pressure cooking has appeal in our time poor and green aware culture. And I actually like the book. It has made me reflect on those early years of small children and what daily life looked like.

But sadly the undoing of it all for me was this. In Chapter 5 on Family Phillips makes suggestions for surviving the work/family juggle.

 “Commit to staying together until your oldest child turns five. Don’t make any life changing decisions before then. The first five years of parenting are by far the most difficult – both mothers and father can suffer post natal depression and heightened anxiety levels- and it’s no mystery why many couples split up during this time.” (p 158)

I read this and applauded her. It is so hard doing life with small children. I know this. It is so refreshing to hear someone in the secular world advocate staying together. But in the research and reading for this review I noted that her marriage is now over. And she is now partnered with a prominent politician.

I know things happen but guess I am disappointed. The pressure cooker is a great idea and one I am keen to try out. But maybe Phillips needs to do more than encourage her readers to ‘commit to staying together until your oldest child is five.’ To survive, thrive, to see the fruit of our labours as mothers and fathers we need to commit for life – to each other, our children, our community and our maker. Otherwise, life becomes just one big pressure cooker.


All I want for Christmas….

Really I don’t need anything for Christmas. My focus should be on others. I should be buying a goat from TEAR and helping a village to have access to clean water. I should be more thoughtful about my Christmas shopping. But a big feature of life right now is that I am not as organised as I would like to be and this is a difficult thing to admit.

Poor organisation inevitably leads to spending above the budget, wasting time and energy searching for missing objects, presents (yes, where did I hide that?) and important invoices and documents. It means I am always running and not making time for refreshment – quiet reflection, prayer and meditation. I don’t have the headspace to really see what needs to be done and what the best way to do it might be.

So I have decided I want “organisation” this Christmas. It is not so much a gift to me but a commitment from me to do the ‘first things first’, identify what is important, schedule in time for the valuable stuff….yes it may mean buying or making some gorgeous new planner/stationary. ( The Project Girl) was a favourite last year!) However, this gift stands to benefit us all. My kids will be better cared for, my home cleaner and tidier perhaps, the food on my table more thoughtful, the time with me Man more meaningful, the connection with friends more regular, my spending more manageable and my giving more generous.

We don’t need stuff. Here in the Western world we rarely lack for the material things. But we need time, love and encouragement. We need Faith in the one who created us.We have been blessed with some amazing people. Cherish them. Love them. Pray for them.

How do you organise your life?