This might come off as me tooting my own horn, but hey, with a new baby, 2 dogs, and a fiance to take care of, I think I deserve a little pat on the back, even if it’s from my self.
In all seriousness though, this post is really to encourage, motivate, and morally support any other new mamas who might be just as afraid as I was to have a house guest for the first time. I initially asked the members of a trusty Facebook mommies group for advice, posed with a humorous slant, and was met with a mix of genuine, well-meaning, and much appreciated advice and a handful of women literally talking shit about the advice the other moms gave. It got so bad I had to delete my post to prevent what could’ve been a mommy war with me at the frontline. Per usual, I took it all in and found my own balance so here I am, living to tell the tale and giving you a few tips on how to make it work, baby and all.
This past weekend, one of my cousins from Ohio (yes, the black mama is originally from there), visited. I can’t say no to family, and at first, I was extremely nervous about having a guest in my home that would need me for things *gasp*.
My grandmother came to stay with us for a few weeks just before RJ was born and a few weeks after to help with whatever I needed. It was a relief to not have to do dishes, grocery shopping, or preparing every meal. She was all to happy to do everything for us and help me transition into motherhood. At the holidays, my dad and brother came to visit. Pops is a chef so he happily did all the cooking and we happily ate leftovers for every meal that next week. So, as you can see, my previous “guests” just got in where they fit in and everything worked out just fine.
Now, nearly 4 months after giving birth, you’d think i’d be ready to entertain again, but this mama seemingly lost her touch, or at least I thought I did. I didn’t know where to start, what to prepare, and frankly, I was exhausted just thinking about it. But, the Thursday before said cousin’s Friday arrival (hey, I like to procrastinate, light the fire under my ass, so to speak) I kicked it into high gear. There’s nothing I love more than a clean home, so I cleaned every nook and cranny, top to bottom, whilst wearing RJ in the carrier. It took me all day to do what might’ve only taken a half day before, but we got it done.
Follow that up with RJ rolling over on his own on Friday and you’ve got the recipe for one happy mama. After that, nothing could stop me. They say us average folks have just as many hours in a day as Beyonce. Well this day, I set out to prove that I too, could be just as fierce as Sasha on any given day.
I finished my cleaning, played with my LO, organized his clothes (he’s going to be fitting into 6M in no time, made a batch of “Better Than Yo Madre’s Salsa Verde” , made shredded chicken for tacos in my crockpot (recipe below), and baked homemade chocolate chip cookies, and don’t forget the nursing or getting RJ down for a nap. Ok, I’ll admit it, I was thoroughly exhausted after all of this and immediately wondered why I had agreed to this in the first place. But, when all was said and done, I was super grateful to have adult company for the weekend AND see a cousin who I hadn’t seen in about 10 years. He was in town to handle some business, he’s a musician, check him out here.
So here’s how I did it, and kept most of my sanity.
- PREPARE IN BULK – My family is on a strict budget so taking guests out to eat is a no go, instead think of hearty meals that are easy to make and can be prepared ahead of time. For lunches and snacks I bought deli meat, bread, and sandwich fixings, chips, and grapes. For dinner, I planned on preparing two big meals that would lend themselves to leftovers. Above, I mention my crockpot chicken, it’s super easy to make and you can prepare it with whatever kinds of seasonings you’d like, I opted to use Mexican spices to make it for tacos, but the goal here is quick fast and healthy shredded chicken that can be used in a variety of recipes.
Crockpot Shredded Chicken4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts1/2 of a large onion4 tomatillos4 cloves2 teaspoons cumin2 teaspoons chili powder4 cloves garlic1 /2 teaspoon onion powder1 teaspoon salt1 teaspoon pepper1/2 cup water or chicken stock1 tablespoon olive oilIf your chicken is fresh, use 1 full cup of liquid. If frozen, 1/2 cup will do.Throw everything into the crockpot and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 5-6 hours. Depending on the brand and size of your crockpot, cooking times may vary so be sure to check on it when you get into these windows of times.Near the end of cooking, you’ll notice the chicken starting to shred itself but you can help it along by using two forks to pull it apart further. While your chicken is cooking, you can prep you other taco fixings and store them in the fridge. This meal is super easy and guests can make their own so you don’t have to wait hand and foot.The next night, I opted for a big pot of spaghetti, garlic bread, and a prepackaged kale Caesar salad. Again, great for leftovers and very filling for men who eat a lot.
- BUY DISPOSABLE – Usually I hate to buy disposable dishes, almost as much as I hate doing dishes, which leaves me in quite the pickle. But for guests, I find it almost a requirement. This way you aren’t spending countless hours at the kitchen sink when you could be enjoying time with your guests. The key for me is to buy reusable plastic ware so if I do so choose, and I do, we can reuse the cups and even forks and spoons, by, ahem, washing them. Check for sales the week before, I used Target’s Cartwheel app and was lucky to get 15% off their Up&Up brand picnic ware. I also came across a brand of cups called Cheeky which donates a meal fore very purchase of their products. If I have to increase my carbon footprint at least let it be to help others, right?
- ASK FOR HELP – Whenever my friends come to visit they ask if they can do anything, or they bring me food, both of which I am extremely gracious for. I’ve had friends hold the baby while I wash dishes (damn, dishes!), wash the dishes for me (yay!), and make it so I don’t have to do dishes (hey take out, you the real MVP).So when you have a house guest, especially family, don’t be afraid to ask for help. “Here, hold the baby while I shower”, “hold the baby while I eat this sandwich”, “hold the baby while I watch this episode of New Girl”. Now feed the baby, take the trash out, walk the dogs with me, and the list could go on. The point is, you’re extending your home, they shouldn’t have a problem helping you out a little bit, too.
- BABY FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES – This mamas, is the real kicker, because what good is having adult company visit if you can’t show them around town. Opt for walkable places that are stroller friendly and if you’re on a budget, places that are free.
If you’re anything like me, living in LA and working in Hollywood, you’re kind of over the tourist traps and feel like you’ve seen it all, maybe you’ve even become a little jaded at the California dream. (Sike, that part never gets old) Well what better way to reinvigorate the sense of magic that either brought you to LA in the first place or keeps you bragging about our lovely city than to show it off to someone who has never seen it.The first day we went to the Walk of Fame, checked out a few stores, took a few pictures with our favorite stars and then went over to Fairfax. There, we went to the Jewish Women Council Thrift Store (love this place but couldn’t buy anything this day), and then looked at some overpriced designer crap in a store with no name.
The next day was beautiful and warm so we opted for the beach. Because my cousin had an event that evening, we didn’t do a full on beach day, instead we went to the Venice Beach Pier and took in the beauty of the Pacific. We packed a picnic, complete with all the lunch ingredients I stocked up on and ate while we listened to the crashing waves. Top it all off with a photoshoot to capture my cousin and RJ’s first time seeing the Pacific Ocean and you’ve got yourself one memorable day.
- REST UP – After all of that, this mama was tired. I find that when RJ and I spend the day doing various activities away from home, we need the full next day to recuperate, not sure if that’s normal, but it is for us. So after you’ve entertained, be sure to get your rest. Easier said than done, I know, but now that you don’t have to prepare for a guest, the house work can wait. So there you have it mamas, now give yourself a pat on the back.