The following blog post was first published on Mama’s Baby Cupcakes in November, 2013 as part of their “Preparing for Baby” blog series.
Here I am, approximately one month away from delivering our fourth son. My mind is spinning with all the preparations that have to be done between now and then. Thankfully I can always rely on mother nature to infuse me with some “nesting energy” to ensure that I get the bottom of the dishwasher cleaned (done), wipe off the tracks on the sliding glass doors (done – wouldn’t want the baby to see that kind of dirt) and finish other completely senseless and random chores.
One of the more important planning that needs to be finalized before the baby’s arrival is FOOD! The baby’s meals are taken care of – he will be breastfed, so that one was easy. However, mama needs good nutrition in order to keep her milk production flowing and healing from her c-section. The rest of the family needs their energy too, in order to process and properly relate to this new family dynamics. There is nothing worse than a low-blood sugar meltdown right before mealtime.
I have three ways in which I plan for meals, and I normally start working on step 1 several weeks prior to the scheduled delivery. The reason for my advanced planning is that I want to capitalize on the small boost of nesting energy, and also because babies don’t always adhere to scheduled events, they have been known pick their own birthdate.
Step 1: Cook and freeze. I am unfortunately not the best friend with our kitchen and all its appliances. However, I have over time mastered the crock pot, so that is where I will turn for this process. On the weekends, or during the day while I am at work I will make soups or stews – all healthy meals packed with vegetables and protein that can easily be thawed and heated. I try to freeze my concoctions in small portion sizes, so I can easily prepare a quick lunch for myself and the kids, or make a meal for the entire family by using two frozen portions. I keep these pre-made meals rather simple since I can always jazz them up with a fancy salad and some fresh bread from the bakery. But the main point of this step is to have food ready for the days when my husband has returned to work, the helpful relatives have left and we are now truly on our own!
Step 2: Print and highlight. OK, so I am not Martha Stewart in the kitchen, this is something we have learned to live with in our family. However, I can order a mean take out or delivery. I am an expert in navigating menus and using my phone to order an entire meal for one, two or even six people! So this is the step that I save for a few weeks before the baby’s arrival. When fluid retention and sleep deprivation is starting to take its toll on my ability to think straight. When my biggest accomplishment of the day is to check my Facebook account and email – that is when printing to-go menus becomes my mission in life.
The purpose of this exercise is to have all the local restaurant menus readily available at our fingertips. When heating a frozen block of food is too much do to, that is when picking up the phone and calling in an order for dada to pick up on his way home, or for the establishment to deliver to our house become a lifesaving action. I try to print menus from all of our favorite restaurants and then highlight our favorite dishes. I try always to remember to pick dishes that the kids will also eat. In case a friendly relative or loving spouse decides to call in the order while I are taking a much needed nap, they will easily be able to pick foods that will please the entire family.
Step 3: Set up meal train. This step is really for someone else to do, since it would be like me throwing myself a baby shower if I initiated this. However, often after a baby is born a best friend or nice neighbor will reach out and say “is there anything you need?”. This is when I reply “yes, it would be wonderful if you could help coordinate a meal train for us.”! The postpartum period is not the time for me to be bashful or reserved. If people want to help and offer to help – I try to make it easy for them by giving them a specific task.
There are several websites out there that provide the same service, however I have personal experience with www.mealtrain.com and have always found their website easy for everyone to navigate. My friend sets up the initial request on the website, on our behalf. They can list any dietary restrictions we may have due to allergies, preferences, or religion. Making sure friends are aware of these specifications will also help to ensure that we are provided a meal the entire family can and will eat. I have always found that requesting meals every other day starting from when we get home from the hospital will hopefully provide us enough food for a few weeks. People who sign up do not have to slave in the kitchen to participate. They can very easily go to a market and pick up a finished meal, or order take out from our favorite restaurant.
With each of the above referenced three steps fully completed and prepared ahead of our hospital homecoming, we should be well-fed for weeks to come. Dinner and bedtime are the two most stressful times of the day when you bring home a new baby and add to the family dynamics. However, with some careful planning and accepting the help from caring friends you too can overcome these hurdles, freeing up more energy to fully embrace and enjoy the baby and your other kids.