Baking has always been a go to for me for stress relief, for relaxation and for a feeling of accomplishment. When I am truly caught up in my baking it is the moment that I am most mindful, totally in the moment. I love the process, I love the outcome and I love the happy faces when enjoying what I have made. I love having homemade food there ready for my friends and family and I love knowing exactly what has gone into the food.
Recently I have been baking a lot less due to lack of time and lack of motivation. But I am trying to turn things around and for me baking is part of my self care. So last weekend I put some music on and “got my bake on”. My kitchen bench (which is quite large) was filling with baked goods and the house smelt great. For anyone who has seen the Netflix series Good Girls it resembled Beth’s bench in many episodes – full of cooling racks and containers.
I made pumpkin soup, ham and cheese mini quiches, cheese and zucchini muffins and hedgehog slice. My boys had been with their dad and came home to a lot of food. I felt accomplished, relaxed and prepared for the week.
My youngest has recently taken to baking with me which I love. They both do kitchen at school but now he wants to do things at home as well. So far we have done ANZAC biscuits, chocolate chip biscuits and this week, while he has been on school holidays we made vanilla cupcakes with chocolate icing. He loves it too and it is a great bonding, non screen activity for us. Next he wants to try a cheesecake – not sure why that has popped into his head.
So I love my mindful baking and I love sharing it with my kids. Now I just have to make sure I do it more often and remember that it is not just preparing food for me – it is taking a breath and being in the moment.
I’m not sure if that’s what you call it when you have the baking equivalent of writers block.
Today is my youngest sons seventh birthday. His request for a cake theme was Power Rangers. I tried to stifle my sigh unsuccessfully due to this being the third time I had been asked to make a power rangers cake.
To put this in perspective it is not that I hate Power Rangers, it is just that there is only so much creativity you can put into this topic. The first cake I made for a friends son and had the Power Rangers logo surrounded by energems made from glow sticks. At this time you probably think I know a lot about Power Rangers but it is more a case with constant talk and repeated viewings on Netflix something has to sink in. The second cake which was for my youngest last year I made a giant Power Rangers face. So this year I struggled to decide what to do. The design I finally settled on was one blue Power Ranger on a round blue cake all went out the window when late at night I put a hole in the fondant when it was already on the cake. Rather than throw the cake out (that was the first thought) I stepped away, poured a glass of wine, added some white circles to cover the hole and gave up for the night. In the morning with fresh eyes I changed the design to five faces instead.
Result – he loved the cake and was excited I’d included all of the main Power Rangers not just one.
And for me….I officially resign from Power Rangers cakes forever.
My eldest son is the one who has NF2 and as a result he has started to withdraw from wanting to do a lot of activities. And it is getting harder and harder to get him away from screens and interacting with others for extended periods.
So imagine my surprise when he came home from his dads house on Sunday after a week away and asked if we could make Gingerbread Men. He has been reading The Gingerbread Man at school and wanted to make some.
As is common with parents by 4.00pm Sunday afternoon you are thinking about all the things you have to get done for that night as well as to prepare for the week ahead so my immediate reaction was no it is too late. Luckily I pulled my self up halfway through and told him to get the recipe and if I had the ingredients we could make them. We had what we needed in the house already so we spent the next half an hour making the biscuits together. No screens involved and lots of giggles along with yummy biscuits which we tried for dessert that night. On top of that he took one to school for lunch and proudly told his friends he had made them.
Sometimes it pays to pause and think before saying no on auto pilot like I have so many times before.
So many blogs and websites that I follow at the moment are discussing self-care and why it is so important for Mums to do something that is for them….to take time out, re-centre and rediscover, relax and rejuvenate.
While I agree wholeheartedly there are occasions where it just feels like an extra pressure being placed on Mums – find more time in your day to add in more things that will help make you a better Mum. As a single Mum of two young boys that works and doesn’t have family support nearby it is something I set out to do but don’t always achieve.
With the last weekend having been the four-day Easter weekend I sat back to review what I had done for self care and have come to the realisation that there is no formula for self care. What I think falls into this category will be totally different to what others think and do. To me self care is about doing things that help me stop, breathe and feel like me. They help prevent me from turning into the grumpy Mummy monster that needs it to be bedtime and they help me appreciate the moments of fun and laughter.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, they stop me from being the woman who is obsessively cleaning her rangehood at weird hours because it is something she can control and manage. As you may guess I have actually done this but my issues with control and organisation are a story for another time.
So in reflection what did I do over four days that fall into this category (disclaimer – my boys were with their dad for two of the days so I did have a bit more me time than normal and therefore the list is longer).
Nails – I go and get my nails done about every three weeks. It is some time out that is not always peaceful but that makes me feel more like me, more together and makes me happy when I am typing on my computer.
Walking – when I don’t have the boys I go for a walk – early in the morning if I can. I always listen to music so that I don’t spend the time over thinking as I often do. The loop I do only takes me about 20 mins but it makes me feel more awake, gives me more energy and gets me up and moving on days when it can be hard to get started.
Smiling Minds – I have always been a light sleeper. Adding two children, a separation and my sons health problems have made a decent sleep almost impossible. I have now started a routine where I take homeopathic formula melatonin when getting ready for bed and then listen to Smiling Minds (the sleep mindfulness meditations on the app) once in bed. It is working really well and I am now asleep before the 8.20 mins is up. I don’t think I need to cover the benefits of sleep. Staying asleep is another story!!
Music – Spotify is my new best friend (in close second is Netflix). Music gets me out of my head, removes the deafening quiet when my boys are gone and allows me to dance and sing my way around the house.
Easter Egg Hunt – I set up a great Easter Egg Hunt in the backyard for my boys before they came home from their dads. My youngest had been talking non stop about how he hoped the Easter Bunny would do a hunt. The reason I have added this to the list is that for half an hour the three of us were outside, having fun, thinking of nothing else and I got to enjoy the fact that for a little while longer they still believe in the magic of Easter/Christmas etc. And that is good for my heart and soul.
In the end I think it is important to remember that while it is important you take moments for yourself and practice self-care it has to be what is right for you. There is no point committing yourself to self care that is actually adding more stress and pressure. So I will continue to bake, have beautiful nails, exercise, sleep, listen to music, dance and enjoy my boys as much as I can before they hit teenage years and no longer want to talk to me.
My boys are staying at their dads house tonight and I often take the opportunity to bake while I have some time to myself.
Today I decided to make jam drops. I used to make these a lot when the boys were younger and they love them. They used to call them doughnut biscuits so it will be interesting to see what they call them tomorrow when they get home.
Jam drops had been on my mind as one of my boys had made them at school this week. Their school participates in the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program which I love. It is one of the many reasons I wanted them to go to that school. It is great program that not only teaches them life skills of cooking and gardening but focuses on nutrition, teamwork and responsibility (as they have to set tables, wash dishes etc). Add to that skills in measurement, weight, reading recipes, following instructions it is an all round valuable class that I believe should be in all primary schools.
Hopefully soon I’ll get a day off and they will do all the cooking!
This time I made the jam drops with Wildberry Jam as it is my sons absolute favourite jam that we get from Black Forest Farm. Makes a nice change from strawberry.
To be frank I have had a really rough 18 months. In the past my go to when I am having a rough time is to bake. There is something soothing for me in following the recipe, getting lost in the process and creating something amazing from the ingredients. Then there are the added benefits of a great smelling house, yummy treats and happy children.
Often I get my children involved unless I am making birthday cakes – they are all mine as I always have a plan for how I want them to turn out.
Lately baking has been put on the back burner as there just never seems time but it is up to me to find the time and get back to the hobby I love. So when I realised it is my good friends sons birthday this weekend I offered to make his cake. He always feels he misses out as his mum doesn’t bake.
With only one days notice it isn’t as grand as most of the birthday cakes I’ve made but I think he will love his Poke ball cake tomorrow. And the time spent is even worthwhile to see a happy nine year olds face.