Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Rise of the Village

I read an interesting piece in Sunday's New York Times today (yes, it takes me all week to get through Sunday's Times), A Commune Grows in Brooklyn. In the article, Jed Lipinski details all of the collaborative living arrangements cropping up in "DIY Brooklyn." Long the stomping ground of hipsters, the "breeders" are now forming home school cooperatives, growing public roof top gardens and even collectively running bike shops. Driven by the economic realities of the Great Recession, the grandchildren of the Depression are living the "many hands make light work" mantra.

In my own decidedly less trendy neighborhood, the 3 other families of 5 at my bus stop have formed a weeknight meal swap. Each night, Monday through Thursday, one of us cooks for 20 and we hand off meals at the 4pm bus stop. 3 of the 4 moms work outside the home (albeit with flexible schedules) and the 4th has 2 under 2 at home and works harder than the other 3 of us combined, so this was not about being hipper-than-thou, healthier meal prep or cost savings, but more about the logistics of getting dinner on the table at 5:30 when dance class is at 6 and Dad isn't home till 7 (thank you DC rush hour.) Cook one night (or the night before, my average time commitment is around 90 minutes) and the rest of the nights hot dinner is delivered. Fridays is leftover buffet night, and if we've had a particularly ravenous week, pizza delivery. Brilliant.

We've had all sorts of delicious food outside of my normal weeknight repertoire and I haven't heard a single "roast chicken....again?" out of my brood. We're swapping gladware and pyrex, family recipes and generally collectively lightening the load.

I'd love to hear from our readers on how other folks are working together to make working families work. Is it a MS Excel-worthy carpooling spreadsheet? Farmshare pick up split? What's working and where could you use more help? Because there's no reason we should do this alone.

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