Many of you know I’m on mat leave. The babe is now 4 months old and I can finally say I’m starting to enjoy my time off.
I know I should be grateful that I live in a place where taking time off work to raise my child is an option. I am, but I won’t sugar coat it either. The first three months were really, really hard. I’m still finding my day to day hard, but I’ve learned enough about my girl to anticipate what she needs a bit more. Also, she smiles a lot now. You have no idea how much that improves the situation.
All along I’ve been cooking. It’s been my saving grace. I’ve been getting a lot of ‘how do you do it?’s from people who follow me on Instagram and who read the blog. Truthfully, I do it by sacrificing other things. Like vacuuming and laundry and showering. I don’t watch any TV and I’ve all but stopped reading (which I normally do voraciously). Oh, and napping while the baby naps? That’s a load of malarkey. Pretty much every spare second (and there aren’t many) gets devoted to food or cooking. That’s how I do it.
Another technique? Strap the kid to ya…
For a long time I saw this as a failure and it really stressed me out. I’m used to being able to knock 84 things off a to-do list in a day. Suddenly, if I accomplished 1 or 2 I felt lucky.
Despite the pain of recovery, the fatigue, breastfeeding and learning to raise a human being, the guilt associated with not being able tackle my to-do list was the hardest part of 0-3 months for me. That being said, no one put that pressure on me except me.
I’m not sure where I got such unrealistic expectations of new motherhood but I am certainly humbled by it now. Thankfully, I have a hub who understands cooking is how I can keep my sanity and still be a good momma. He’s been doing a lot of vacuuming and laundry.
One of the best things about being a new mom is meeting other new moms and realizing we all struggle with something or other, and no one is ‘doing it all’. I’ve been so lucky to find myself a couple of amazeballs real-life mom friends also on mat leave. Guess what I suggested we do together?
I figured if it’s been therapeutic for me, maybe it can be for others. And if not, at least it’ll get a healthy dinner on the table a few nights per week. That’s 3 items on the to-do list!
Just kidding. I’ve stopped with the to-do lists. Other than this one:
- keep baby alive
- remain mentally stable
Now, more to the point. We’ve started a cooking club! And it’s been awesome on so many levels.
The format goes like this:
- Every week, each member picks a recipe, checks to make sure it’s something we (and our spouses) would like and sends it to that week’s host. The host rotates each week.
- Host reviews recipes, triples the ingredients (there are three of us) and does all the shopping beforehand. Receipts are kept to keep track of costs.
- The host will prep any recipe steps requiring lots of time beforehand (roasting squash, soaking beans, letting dough sit/rise etc.)
- We gather at the host’s kitchen, babies in tow, and cook. Breaks for feeding, naps and general freak-outs are interspersed throughout.
- ‘Guests’ will bring appropriate containers to bring food home and snacks for the day.
That sums it up! It’s great social time for us gals (adult conversation!!!) and the babes. Our time together generally spans late morning to late after noon. It seems 4-5 hours is what it takes. If this is something you’re interested in doing without babies, I’m confident you could cut the time in half and do it during an evening during the week.
In the few short weeks we’ve been doing this, we’ve also used many of our How to Eat recipes. We have focused on doing main dishes, a mix of vegetarian entrees and ones with chicken/turkey (based on group preferences) which reheat and freeze well and generally provide 4 or more servings. Because leftovers are the bestest.
Here are links to some of our favourite so far:
Butternut Squash Enchiladas (we added black beans for extra protein)
Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Eggplant and Ricotta Bake
Chicken pot pie (we used puff pastry instead of biscuits, cut the butter by ⅔ and used milk instead of heavy cream)
Indian Saag with Tofu
This coming week, we’re mixing it up and doing a holiday baked goods exchange. A sugar coma is imminent.
Here’s our gang. We’re as tough as we look.
Happy December everyone!