AB = After Baby. There is a very distinct divide between pre-baby and life after baby. You can't anticipate all the ways in which it will change you, you just know from everything you've heard that it will. We couldn't have fully prepared. I tried. I looked for all the answers and fell into the crowd that has them all - the AP crunchy crowd. For me, this was all the appeal. I was overwhelmed, about to enter a foreign and strange land. And I wanted to do well. I wanted to have some advance training in the language, the customs, a roadmap, and these people HAD IT. I think this is why some people are drawn to religious cults. The Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses have an answer, no THE answer to every question. What exactly happens after we die? Like moment, by moment, where do we go and what is it like? There is an answer, and there is cause and effect. Gives a great sense of peace, calm and control. If I push button X, then Y will happen. If I co-sleep, then we will all rest and baby will be secure and confident, spouse and I will be well-rested. Good to know. People would warn me about sleepless nights when I was pregnant. I would laugh it off. No, silly, we're CO-SLEEPING. We won't have any of THOSE problems. They'd look at me like "Good luck with that. Are you insane?" Yes. I had all the answers. And then I had a baby.
But I digress. One of the unanticipated side effects of the introduction of baby into our lives was a the urgent need to become more organized. Like, MUCH more organized. Or we didn't eat. Literally. At dinner we'd try our usual routine of What do you want for dinner? Oh I dunno, what do you want? PB this could go on for an hour or two and eventually something would end up cooked and eaten, usually at a restaurant. AB this would go on for 5 minutes and we'd get caught up in other baby routine stuff and then it would be time to collapse in bed. Baby ate, but frequently we didn't. (not that this led to any weight loss. boo.) So in the last few weeks I have, out of survival instinct, devised a schedule for meals for the week. I think its pretty nifty so I'm going to share. Not that anyone who sat down and thought about it for 5 minutes couldn't or wouldn't come up with something similar, but that's just the thing. Sometimes with a baby its hard to sit and think coherently. Maybe its easier to see it on some random person's blog. Here you go.
I do meal shopping for the week on Sunday afternoon. Sometimes Parker goes with me, sometimes he stays home with Daddy.
It's important to plan fresh produce in our diets, but produce doesn't last long. Thus, the freshest, most quickly spoiling things we have the earliest in the week, and the end of the week is for freezer stuff and leftovers. So, we have a big dinner salad on Mondays, with grilled chicken, nuts, cheese, dried cranberries, tossed with dressing. These have become a big hit. Last week, SoggyDad grilled steaks to go with the salad instead of chicken.
Tuesday is ground beef day. Default is meatloaf, but spaghetti is an alternate, or a hamburger helper type thing, with fresh veggies.
Wednesday is pot roast day, with celery, carrots, potatoes, etc Note: Tuesdays and Wednesdays are interchangeable)
Thursday is DH's night to bring home Boston Market or Arby's. He knows what I like there so there is no wondering about what to get.
Friday is bake/cook something out of the freezer night. Chicken Cordon Bleus, Pizza, skillet meal, etc
So this works very well so far, about 4 weeks in. There is just enough choice built in to keep it interesting, but not enough that we have to think too hard. And we mostly get a healthy dinner every night. True, could be healthier, could be better, but we can add levels of complexity later. Sleep is finally getting much better... It is true for us that if we have to think too hard and make decisions, it won't happen. All our creativity and thought goes into figuring out what the hell the baby wants right now. lol. It's a mystery and an obsession. We're getting much better at it now, but until he talks, a lot of burden is on us and our skill in guesswork.
We also plan activities. Like, days and weeks in advance. This I like more than I would have thought, really. I get to look forward to going out on a date night for 3 days, because that's how long in advance we have to line up the babysitter. I have plans to take the family to the Spy Museum this weekend. Again, if we have to plan too much on the fly, nothing exciting happens. We MIGHT end up at the mall, but probably nothing better.
They say babies really thrive on a schedule. I wouldn't have believed this. "Schedule" is sort of a bad word in AP circles. Everything should be "on demand". But when you can't remember how long its been since the baby demanded food (or at least you thought he was demanding food. In any case, he was fed...) you don't know if he's more hungry, or tired, or what... The reality is that babies have so little control over their lives, their ability to communicate is very limited and leads to lots of frustration on both ends. There is something comforting about at least knowing what comes next, and that it is pleasant and predictable. And scheduling ends up being more about anticipating what baby will want before the situation gets critical, than fitting his needs into a box. Yes, scheduling = peace.
True for baby, and true for new parents, too. The thing is, we have had to find our own way. No one can blaze this trail for you, and that's OK because its part of the fun and adventure. Thinking we could simply follow someone else's trail only led to confusion and disappointments. Once I've let that go, there's been a lot more joy.