Domestic Affairs

One of the things I have realised recently is that life with a new baby is a series of phases, and those phases last a lifetime but are over in the blink if an eye all at the same time. Not only is ‘normal’ never going to be what it was before, but it doesn’t seem to be the same week to week even. Not that this is a bad thing, it is just wonderful watching Jessica blossom in front of us. She is 21 weeks today, which again sounds like nothing, but feels like forever in the best possible way. She has been rolling over for weeks, she can decide she wants something and reach out and pick it up. She is such a social little girl, forever beaming at people from her pushchair.

Since the clocks changed, which I can hardly believe was only Sunday, she has been waking a little earlier for her first feed, and dozing a little while longer. So rather than coming downstairs to start the day when a Daddy goes to work, she stays upstairs asleep a little longer. And suddenly I have this tiny pocket of time, and it can drink a hot cup of tea, watch her sleep, and just have some quiet time.

This morning I am thinking about domestic matters. Did you see The Kitchen, the three part series on the BBC? I wanted to like it more than I did, it was a bit repetitive after the first episode, but it was fly-on-the-wall in the kitchens of different families across the country. It was interesting to see the different things people cooked, who cooked from scratch, who relied more heavily on frozen ready prepared foods, who ate at the table, who did the cooking…but I would also be really interested in a similar programme on shopping.

For none of what goes on in the kitchen can happen without there first being some shopping. Several times in conversation lately, people have mentioned to me that how they shop have changed. As I sit musing on it this morning, how I shop has changed hugely since we first set up home some ten years ago.

Back then, I did a weekly menu plan, made a list, and then Carl and I would go to the supermarket once a week often late at night to avoid the crowds. I don’t drive, so Carl had to come too, and oh, how he hated it. So despite living five minutes away, I started to have it delivered.

Then for a year or so, I cut down as much as I could on the supermarket shop, and bought as much from the farm shop as I could. I still needed to be driven but this is a much nicer place to be, and Carl really rather likes it there.

For a year or so I dabbled with an organic veg box, and filled in the gaps with a more sporadic supermarket delivery and farm shop purchases.

And then came the darker time, when is was working flat out and was under so much pressure at work that there was just no time. I hated this so much….what started as a one-off emergency dash to the mini-Marks-and-Spencer on the way home for dinner turned into something that happened more often than not. I was so, so relieved, I cannot even tell you how much when that period ended.

And then pregnancy, which made me realise that things are never quite like you think they will be. I thought that on e I stopped work I would have all this time to plan and shop. What I didn’t account for was the tiredness, particularly after the eighth month!

And now, here I am with a beautiful baby, and still there seems to be no time. But as I have learnt in the last months, time alone isn’t what I need, it is a bit of planning…and a plan! It was really important to find a way to make this work, partly because as a breastfeeding mummy I need to be eating good food; as a busy hardworking daddy, Carl needs good food; and everything we do sets an example to Jessica, who is taking everything in.

So our days have a new pattern and rhythm to them. At the start of the month, I put in an order to Ocado for a delivery of staples such as pasta, rice, tinned tomatoes, tea bags etc as well as things like washing tablets and loo roll. I restock to last the month. Then on a Wednesday, Abel and Cole deliver me an organic fruit and vegetable box, milk, bread, and occasionally a meat box too. They let you know in advance what will be in the boxes, so a few days before it arrived I make out a menu plan, and work out what else I need for the week. Then I visit local shops to fill in the gaps. I am lucky that we have a market with a really good whole food stall which is amazing for herbs and spices and dried fruit. We also have a very good farm shop (although not attached to an actual farm) just 5 minutes walk away.

So, a very different way to shop, but it suits us for now. I love that Jessica sees me handing over real money at good places to shop. I love taking her to the market to see all the fruit and vegetables, and when in cook the dinner, I have her in her bouncy chair nearby, watching. She sees me cooking with real ingredients, and I pass her things such as broccoli or a carrot to hold, and let her smell herbs or ginger, as I cook.

Has how you shop changed over the years?

And now, one of my favourite parts of the day, which has been a delightful constant for months now. A soft little gurgle from next to me, the stirring if tiny limbs, and as I look down and say good morning to her, Jessica gives me a huge smile. Happy, happy days.



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