With my first son this was pretty easy. My husband was lovingly caring for me, waiting on me hand and foot, cleaning, preparing meals, basically being my house b (as he called it). Additionally ever extended family member and friend I had ever know was chomping at the bit to snuggle with my perfect, beautiful baby, and would do any chore I asked for the chance. Even when my HB had to return to work, I was able to milk the princess status for another week or two.
When my second son entered the world, things got a little more complicated. Yes, my husband picked up his role of HB again, but his attention was split between the baby and I, playing with my 4 year old when he was home, and constructing a play set that the four year old had received for his birthday when the little angel was at daycare. (Who knew it took so long to set those things up?) And, yes, we still had the slew of visitors to cuddle with this new little prince, but they were more likely to spend time playing with the 4 year old than doing chores for me. This resulted in the unfortunate predicament that when dinner time rolled around there was rarely any dinner prepared, or easy to make, for my starving 4 year old angel, my darling husband, or for my battered self. Luckily my mother rallied the troops and prepared food started showing up on my doorstep from friends and complete strangers (lovely co-workers of my parents) alike. Additionally, my husband happily ordered take-out at least four nights a week. Not the healthiest option.
I vowed that this would not happen again when my third son made his beautiful self known. I was about to be the mother of three, three boys no less, I had better get my shit together. So, I began planning and searching Pinterest for every make-ahead meal I could find. This pre-planning made the difference between letting my family starve (not really) and keeping them healthily, happily fed. This
one step helped ease my transition back home and took a little bit of worry off of my plate. No matter what, the family would be fed!
If you would like to prepare some meals in advance here are some pieces of advice and recipe resources that may help. Personally, I cook more as a necessity than for pleasure, so I tend to go for easier recipes that require fewer pots (less dishes!). Just wanted to let you know so that you don't expect gourmet recipes.
1. I recommend starting four or five weeks before your due date. This way you can make double batches of meals you are already cooking over the span of days and weeks instead of getting stuck in a weekend cooking marathon. Unless you like that sort of thing. If so, then more power to you.
2. Purchase disposable aluminum pans and tin foil. This way, when you are done, you can throw away the pan which means less dishes. Yay!
3. Search for recipes your family will like to eat. Here are some sites that I found:
Southern Girl Cooking
Cooking Light: Best Freezable Meals
Fitness Magazine: Make ahead meals
4. Don't be afraid to use tried and true recipes that you know your family already loves. I made shepherd's pie, baked ziti, stuffed green peppers, and chicken enchiladas.
5. If you have in season veggies make good use of them. When I was prepping my meals corn was in season. I simply bought extra, blanched it (boiled it for a few minutes, then immediately put it unto an ice cold bath) and froze it for an easy, healthy side. Bonus: when we actually ate the corn it was no longer in season so it was n added treat for my two boys who LOVE corn on the cob, but get sick of it when we eat it almost every night in the summer. (Imagine that)
6. Get your kids into the action. They LOVE helping out in the kitchen!
Oh, and once the baby comes and you are just at the edge of being able to function again, but still tired most of the day, the crock pot WILL become your best friend. That way you can make dinner when you have the energy and time (i.e. when the older kids are at school/daycare.)
This was honestly one of the best things that I did to prepare for the baby. It has made the transition SO much easier. I hope it helps you too!
If you have any other great, easy, recipe sources please feel free to share. I am still using my crock pot AT LEAST four days a week. In fact, I have applesauce cooking right now!