Are Humidifiers Like Children?

Two years ago we bought a new “warm mist” humidifier — an excellent piece of machinery.  Cleaning it is a project, but unlike the cool mist humidifiers we previously owned, it is actually clean after the whole ordeal outlined in the manual.  This is the number one reason I like this humidifier — no long am I battling pink mold in every possible crevice, on the 98th Q-tip, only to discover MORE crevices with MORE pink slime inside of them.  This warm mist humidifier changed my life.

But, as stated above, it’s a project to clean.  The whole contraption needs to be unplugged (harder than it might sound when it involves moving heavy pieces of furniture to expose the plug to daylight), moved into the bathroom, emptied, taken apart, filled with a cleaning solution that I have to mix from a powder packet and a measured amount of warm water, reassembled, put into “cleaning mode” for 9 hours, disassembled, rinsed, reassembled, and moved back into the humidity-requiring room, another excavation required to plug it in.  Are you exhausted yet?  But the whole procedure is worth it, because at the end, the humidifier is sparkling clean.  High ROI.

A few months after the humidifier emerged from each cleaning, sparkling, with no traces of pink mold to be found, we decided to get another one.  OK, so now there were two humidifiers to clean.  One might casually think, oh! Twice the work!  Well, no, not quite.  I didn’t set a stopwatch, but it definitely doesn’t feel like double the work.  (And that’s kind of what counts anyway wth work — the perception.)  Plus, at this point, I developed a system.  I sourced the perfect sized jar for mixing the powdered detergent with water, perfected a mixing technique (manual swirling) that did not require a spoon, and completed the entire cleaning operation in the master bathroom.  The case for getting organized was stronger when doing two humidifiers.  And by the way, we ran these two humidifiers 24/7 from mid-October through March.  So about once a month, the plug excavations commenced, step one of the dual humidifier cleaning process that I’d streamlined into a “system”.

Fast forward nearly two years.  With the living room now functioning as the bedroom for our second baby, we discussed getting a third humidifier for “his room”, to help ward off the spread of winter time colds, of which our older child is Ambassador.  I really struggled with this decision and I initially pushed back, as I’m the Designated Humidifier Cleaner.  As I said in a huff to my husband, in a fit of postpartum hormones, “And I’M THE ONE WHO HAS TO CLEAN THEM!”  But as soon as our 3-week-old son had his first sniffles, I was on board.  So, the third humidifier showed up.  You would think the cleaning would now become unbearable.  BUT . . . here’s what happened.

First, when we bought the third humidifer, I ordered the cleaning supplies (detergent, anti-mineralization disks) in bulk.  And I stacked them all up in one area underneath the bathroom sink.  So, no more wasting time rummaging around for the supplies, which used to live in three separate areas, burrowed amidst all kinds of other cleaning supplies.  I designed some shortcuts for the whole process, especially the post-cleaning rinsing stage.  Could I have done this with two?  Sure, but the need was not there, as urgently as it was with three.  Three is no joke.  So I completely streamlined the process, and when I cleaned the three humidifiers this last time, I’m fairly certain it took less time than when I cleaned the one, that first time, two years ago.  AND, I decided that rather than running them continuously for nearly half the year, I’m going to run them only when the apartment is uncomfortably dry, or when someone is sick.  Since one of us is in preschool, this could still be 24/7 from mid-October through March, but we’ll see.  But, a small win: We aren’t running them tonight!

All this got me thinking about kids.  I was nearly paralyzed with fear over how hard two kids would be, after feeling crushed by first-time motherhood.  And a wise friend said it was not double work, but maybe, 50% more work.  So far, I agree.  I would say it is hard, but absolutely nothing compared to how hard I thought it would be, and it is absolutely not double the work.  Tonight I was sitting on the floor playing Memory with my daughter, while guiding my son through Tummy Time.  That extra Tummy Time “work” was as much extra work as breathing.  I mean, I was already playing on the floor with a child!  So what’s a bit of different play, with a different child, added in?

That friend who said 2 children was 50% more work?  Well, she also said three children is “barely” more work than 2.  (We have not ruled out a third).  I don’t believe her.  It sounds too good to be true!  But it got me thinking about these humidifiers.  Two was not double work, and it made me get organized.  And three? Theoretically it’s more work than two, and realistically, it has to be . . . I mean, it’s another whole humidifier.  But why does it feel like “barely” more work than 2?

So, if humidifiers are like children, I think maybe, I’ll have another.

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