New Mom Real Talk: 5 Tips on How to Bake with a Baby
Apparently it’s been four months since my last New Mom post. There has been been an amazing amount of change from 7 1/2 months to 11 1/2 months. At that point, L had only been mobile for a few weeks and now he is on the verge of walking. He basically spends most of the time giving me mini heart attacks while he climbs, dives and attempts flying. Adventures in momhood to say the least!
What I want to talk about in this post, though, is baking with a baby. A lot of people ask me how I find the time to bake with a little one so I thought it would be a useful blog post to share. And when I say baking with a baby, I don’t mean having L participate (though I look forward to the opportunity!), I mean figuring out how to bake around your baby’s schedule and needs. Note that I don’t have any childcare except for the occasional visit from a grandma.
1) Plan ahead: Most weekends, I look at my editorial calendar and then make a schedule of baking and photography for the week. I try to do 99% of this work while L is napping so I have about 3 hours / day. However, that is also the time I use to workout, shower (er….), catch up on computer work, cook dinner, etc.
Sidenote: someone recently asked me if I could put L in the bathroom to “sit and play” while I showered. I couldn’t help but laugh at the thought. That child would get into everything, and I mean everything if left to his own devices. Nice idea but, no.
If you aren’t a blogger, you luckily don’t have to worry about the daytime light and photography issue. If you are a baking blogger, like me, and your child naps twice a day, consider baking during nap number one and then take pictures during nap number two. That should give your recipe enough time to cool, etc. and hopefully you still have some good light (winter will be interesting…).
Make cookie dough early in the week and have a few options of times when you can bake the cookies.
2) Have a back-up plan: Babies may be on schedules, but they also have their own agendas. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I had it all figured out and L would surprise me by refusing to nap in his crib or waking up early from a nap. For the days when naps don’t happen, I send my condolences. Kidding (sort of), but that definitely throws a wrench in things.
From a mom perspective, my first objective is to get L to take a nap in some shape or form which means rocking/nursing him (not an option for long) to sleep, a stroller nap or a car nap. Obviously none of these options gives you time in the kitchen which is why you need a back-up plan. More specifically, have extra time in your schedule for when something like this happens. Consider baking when dad comes home (not ideal if you want a chance to unwind with your husband, are physically exhausted at this point, or just want to get other work done. Alternatively, save the work for the next nap. Eventually it will happen!
In terms of an early nap wake-up, this can be so frustrating! You are in the groove, you’ve got a cake in the oven, cookies set up to photograph by the window, and ice cream chilling in the freezer. Rock star mom! All of the sudden your little one wakes up and that forty five minute window you thought you had for productivity disappears. Think again. Get your baby, calm him down (because let’s be honest, babies never wakeup early from naps in a “good” mood), and get him entertained. Depending on how much time I need to buy, I’ll occasionally put L on the kitchen floor with a bowl and wooden spoon and have him “stir”. If I really need a good amount of time, or I need him to stay away from a photo shoot, I get him in the high chair with food or entertainment. Cheerios were invented for a reason! If your baby is young enough for a bouncy seat or jumperoo, even better!
3) Prioritize: What is imperative for you to get done? Is it that you just need something, anything, to bring for dessert to a party? Pick your easiest recipe. Do you have to make a big batch item for the school potluck? Make something like a blondie or brownie. Are you a blogger that has a sponsored post deadline quickly approaching? That should obviously be first on your list. Figure out what needs to get done asap and do that first because you never know when your next nap time plan will go amok (see #2). And things like dishes? They can wait until later. I’m sure your husband is happy to help you load and unload the dishwasher.
4) Be organized and work efficiently: This really goes along with number 1! When you are planning things out, think about what types of recipes you can make at the same time. For example, cakes need plenty of baking time, can you use that time to make a cookie dough that you will be chilling overnight anyway? Or maybe photography yesterday’s recipe while the cake is baking.
When you know you have a day full of baking projects, take your butter and eggs out of the fridge in the morning so they will be ready for you at room temperature. Better yet, get most of your ingredients out along with special cake pans, etc. so that as soon as you have the chance to get to work, everything is ready to go! I’ve had times where I put L down for a nap only to realize that the specific cake pan I needed was in his room. Not to mention the time I woke him up while trying to get to a new bag of brown sugar. And yes, we have our “pantry” in L’s room. #apartmentproblems
Bake cake layers on day one and make frosting on day two to fit a layer cake into your schedule!
5) Make it fun: Even if you are blogger and baking has become a part of your job, don’t forget to have fun with it! You probably started baking because you loved it and don’t let the time constraints and challenges diminish that. If your baby is small enough, wear him while you bake (ah, I miss those days!). If he is old enough, find ways that he can “help” you. And if all else fails, save those cookies for stress eating later. Magic.
Any additional tips you have to share? Leave them in the comments!