Stop here every day for a new question and answer, practical help for busy parents.
If I baked chicken five days ago, is it safe to eat today? It’s been in the fridge in plastic locking bags.
To a certain extent, this answer depends on your intestinal fortitude. If you ask a food company or a government restaurant inspector, they’ll probably tell you that you shouldn’t hold onto leftover food for more than a day or two. Plenty of people play it safe and live by that rule.
Many of us (yes, by “us” I include myself) will hold onto leftovers a lot longer, in some cases up to a week or 10 days. This strategy requires the use of sensory tests. Take the food out of the bag. If it looks good, feels good, and smells good, it’s probably safe to eat. But while most of us don’t get sick when we use the sniff test, we’re probably taking on more risk than is wise.
For those of you who don’t like wasting food, but also don’t care to live dangerously, the shrewd answer is generally somewhere between those two extremes. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a refrigerator set below 40 degrees can keep prepared foods safe for three to four days. At www.foodsafety.gov, you can obtain a more detailed list of recommended storage times for a variety of foods in a refrigerator or freezer.
I’m currently working abroad as an au pair for twin 3-year-old boys who are very, very loud and energetic. It’s a really long day, but I constantly feel underfoot and useless because the mother stays at home all day and hovers around me. The kids ignore me most of the time and go straight to their mother, and it’s awkward shouting at someone else’s kids while the parents are still there. The father cooks all the meals, and they have a housecleaner, too, so I really don’t have any other responsibilities than the children. I don’t get paid cash, but they do pay for a short course and train tickets. I’m only here for a few weeks. My question is, why did they hire me as an au pair if they don’t need one?
I’ll start with the bad news. I have no idea why they hired you, and unless you ask them outright, you will probably never know. This couple did not technically “need” an au pair, not with the mother at home. But there are any number of reasons why they might have hired you. Perhaps the woman intends to go back to work and wants to get used to the idea of someone else watching the kids. Perhaps the mother planned to do other things after hiring you but has separation anxiety. Perhaps the couple hired you as a favor to someone else or simply to help you with your schooling. And perhaps the couple comes from a culture where people with money generally hire help because it is expected of them.
Fortunately, the good news should ease the pain a bit – you don’t need to know why they hired you. I’ll assume that you consider the payment suitable for the job, or you wouldn’t have taken it. Just keep putting in the time and trying to earn your wages. Do what the couple asks you to do. Be the best caregiver you can be, taking the weight of responsibility from the parents when they desire it and deferring to their wishes if they would rather handle the job themselves. If you were considering a permanent position in this household, I might offer different advice. But your situation is not complicated. Do the job as best you can, collect your payment, and leave a smile on the faces of your employers when it comes time for the gig to end.
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