Tips for making the most of your parental leave
3. Learn to cook and be domesticated.
If you’re going to embrace the ‘primary carer’ role, you really need to master this one. Learning to cook, clean, wash clothes, iron, vacuum and dust the whole house (not just the main thoroughfares) will significantly increase your ability to master point 3! Let’s face it - by taking parental leave, you are already pushing back against the social mould of traditional family roles, and for the better, so learning how to do your fair share of domestic duties shouldn’t be too big a stretch. And hey, if you are capable of learning how to care for a child, then you are more than capable at learning to master the oven. Besides, learning to cook from scratch will also give you the option of cooking healthy, fresh meals for your baby once they are old enough to switch to solids.
By taking on the cooking and shopping duties for our household during my parental leave, I was also able to plan ahead and organise simple but tasty meals with a single set of ingredients that could be jazzed up for us and simplified for our baby. Being organised meant that I could save time by preparing both meals together out of the same set of ingredients, while also minimising waste. A sweet potato, zucchini and bocconcini mash could be turned into a delicious vegetarian pizza for us (with the addition of a wholemeal pizza base), while other meals such as sweet potato (it really is a hit with babies!) and lentil patties with salad could be cooked the same way for both.
One final tip that I found incredibly useful in completing the domestic duties was to start using online grocery shopping. The convenience of being able to complete my order while our baby was asleep and have the groceries delivered to my home at a time that was most convenient for me was so much easier than the prospect of battling a tired, cranky baby in the aisle of a supermarket. I primarily used the Coles Online website (I used to work for them while completing my university degree) which remembers your prior orders, making it easier to reselect frequently purchased items the more you use it. If you also have a Taste.com account (which I used for recipe ideas), you can also select items you need and add them directly to your Coles online trolley for your next order.