In my earlier post 12 essential steps to plan your return to paid work with confidence, Step 10 is Food!
Now you might be wondering what food has to do with going back to work. Stay with me … we all need to eat, you’ll agree with that I’m sure. For a healthy body and mind, we need food. As a working mum, or a stay-at-home mum with young children, you do have less time for planning, shopping and cooking meals. All of these activities are somewhat time-consuming. When you first go back to work, you are likely to feel more tired than usual at first. You will be getting used to the new routine, fitting in different tasks, refiring your intellect, maybe learning new technology …
Organising and planning food and mealtimes is often overlooked. Here are some ideas to experiment with:
Use a meal planner
When I talk to other working mums, the meal planner is the no 1 top tip used to make life easier. We use one every week. We tend to plan four weeks at a time. We get the children involved too which means they can be sure that they will like at least some of the meals. We also use it as an opportunity to encourage our children to try new foods. We’ll read through recipe books and magazines together and pick out the meals that look most tempting. When we use our meal planner, it’s easier to organise the shopping list and we waste less food.
Some mums have a simple chalkboard in the kitchen; we draw up an A5 piece of paper. If you are lacking inspiration, try out my free monthly meal planner on my Resources as a starting point. It’s a copy of last month’s meal plan. If you want any of the recipes, just ask!
Take turns at cooking
In our house, my husband does all the cooking. When we both worked for employers, he worked more locally and arrived home. It made good sense for him to start the meal rather than wait for me to get home. Don’t feel that you have to be the one to do all the cooking – you could share the cooking and take turns.
Online food shopping
Not essential however online food shopping can be really helpful. Different mums use online shopping in different ways. One former client does a monthly online food shop for the long-lasting basics and the non-perishables. She tops this up with a weekly fruit & veg box deliver. Other mums prefer to plan and shop on a weekly basis. If you have never used online food shopping, give it a go. What I am noticing is that the supermarkets now offer one hour delivery slots.
If you are not a list person, let me share something from neuroscience. The more you can empty your pre-frontal lobe of important information (such as what to buy for dinner), the more clarity and creativity you will have for other aspects of your life. In other words, write out a shopping list. If you really hate lists, try a mind map of your shopping. I have not tried that myself but perhaps worth a try. When we do food shopping we have the basics that we buy every week e.g. milk, bread, yoghurt, fruit … and then we keep a small whiteboard in the kitchen, and if we run out of something, we note it on the whiteboard. Plus we check our meal planner to see what’s needed that’s not already in the freezer.
Cooking smarter not hotter
There are lots of ways you can cook smarter.
- Batch cooking for example: if you are making bolognese sauce or vegetable curry, double or triple the quantities and put what’s left in the freezer.
- Double cooking – cook two meals at the same time. If you have the oven on for jacket potatoes, roast or bake something else in the oven at the same time to heat up the next day.
- Slow cooker – this is a fabulous way to create delicious meals. Some foods are simply divine if you use a slow cooker. Check out the BBC slow cooker recipe selection.
- Does your oven have a delay start option? This is one of my favourite functions – prepare a casserole and pop it in the oven with some jacket potatoes, come home two or three hours later to the beautiful smell of gently simmering chicken casserole.
- Stock up on your Tupperware so that you always have storage containers to freeze leftovers.
- Lunches – can be made up from leftovers from the night before. Some employers offer a microwave to reheat food. What about your children… do you need to provide lunch and snacks for the childminder or nursery? When will you prepare those? Will they be taking a packed lunch to school or having a school dinner?
I hope this has given you fresh inspiration. Please leave a comment and share your best ideas and tips for other mums.
Catch up on the other steps in the series:
The other steps to go back to work with confidence
Are you thinking of returning to work soon? Catch up on the other posts in this Returning to Work series.
- Understand your values – read post
- Identify your skills and strengths – read post
- The all-important LinkedIn profile – read post
- Seven tips for your CV – read post
- Childcare options when you go back to work – read post
- Use your KIT days wisely – read post
- Do the maths – do the sums add up? – read post
- Flexible working rights – read post
- Negotiate the household arrangements – read post
Never too soon to start planning
If you are a mum who’s taken a career break, and now you want to go back to paid work, these 12 essentials will get you started on the journey to go back to work with confidence. It’s never too soon to start planning.
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t know where to start? Lack confidence? Need help?
If you know you WANT to go back to work, but you also know that you NEED SOME HELP, book a call to find out how I can help you. The Confident Mother Experience may be just want you need. If you’ve reached that stage of trying to work it out on your own – go back to your previous career, change career or start a new business – and you’re just feeling completely overwhelmed or driving yourself nuts going round and round in circles AND you’re also smart enough to know that the best plan is to get some help, let’s talk. Click here to find a time that works for you.
I designed The Confident Mother Experience to help you identify the exact steps you need to take, when AND in which order. You will update your LinkedIn profile, refresh your CV, start networking, get clarity on what’s most important to you, and create a realistic and positive action plan to go back to work with confidence.
I am here to support you every step of the way. Most months I run free online training on this and similar topics – don’t miss out – leave me your details, and I’ll send you a reminder in advance.