How Did You Start Cooking Again After Having a Baby?

updated Sep 30, 2020
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(Image credit: Dana Velden)

Three months ago, in the early part of August, I had a baby. My daughter came two weeks early, right as we were getting ready to “get ready” for her. We’d planned to fill the freezer with meals, but only had time to make turkey stock. Turkey stock! Of all the things to start with, we started with turkey stock. And then we brought home a baby, and I stopped cooking.

It’s thanks to friends who provided a steady supply of meals that we even ate in those first few weeks. Cooking may not have been the furthest thing from my mind (that would be the hanging plants on my porch — wait, I have hanging plants on my porch?) but it was a close second. The outline of my days shifted significantly with this new little roommate, and finding time and energy to cook? Well, that shifted completely out the window.

Over the next two months my husband, who was in the midst of a brief, blessedly flexible work schedule, and our visiting family did most of the cooking. The freezer finally got stocked with a few meals, and despite me hardly handling a pan, we ate home-cooked meals most nights (although takeout was not unheard of by any means during this time). It was amazing to have such help.

But this period of extended care couldn’t last forever, and life eventually took a turn into the new normal. Parents flew home, my husband returned to long work days, the freezer meals ran out, and when my maternity leave ended I, too, returned to a full-time job here at The Kitchn.

Things are falling all around me now. Some things are falling into new, better places and some are just falling. My cooking life is in free fall right now, and I’m not quite sure how to catch it.

But wait, you may be thinking. I understand you’re taking care of a baby and working full-time. But you work for a FOOD site and you’re telling me you’re not cooking? How is that possible?

Here’s how: I’m not a recipe developer. My job, as The Kitchn’s design and lifestyle editor, means I write, research, and edit on almost everything except recipes. This means I don’t cook for The Kitchn. If I cook at home it’s because I need to eat and want to cook.

Which brings me to my problem: I’m having a hard time finding the desire to cook again. To get through the day I’m taking the path of least resistance when it comes to eating. This means peanut butter on toast, granola and yogurt, a hardboiled egg or two. On particularly difficult baby days — days when naps are elusive and crying is frequent — I sometimes hardly eat at all and then feel starved and terrible, particularly because I’m breastfeeding. Even making a salad on some days feels like too much work. A salad! I have vegetables wilting their lives away in my fridge.

So, I would love some advice. For those of you who’ve had babies, did you ever struggle with taking up cooking again? Did it ever seem like a huge weight that, in the midst of everything else, you weren’t sure how to manage? What were your strategies for eating and eating well? Any tips and life lessons would be so appreciated.