At the heart of everything we do, and indeed what started this whole thing, is how much we value getting together with our friends and fellow mums to cook a weeks worth of meals – sharing that relentless daily burden of dinner that we all carry.
There aren’t many things we do together in terms of the domestic work these days. We stay at home and do our domestic thing, overwhelmed, bored and alone (Oh yes, we’re so liberated and equal!) and maybe catch up for small talk and a coffee every once in a while.
Motherhood is a time when we, as women, need other women. We need to know we are not alone in how we feel, our experiences of parenting and motherhood. With the loss of extended families and elders to guide us, as modern day mums we can be all at sea with what’s ‘normal‘, what’s ‘right‘ with noone to comfort us, cheer us on and let us know “it’s fine“.
So, what to do?
Well, I’m sure there a million ways to overcome this but our way is cooking together.
1/ Rolling up your sleeves with others gets real, real quick
Rolling up your sleeves and getting up to your gills in flour and eggs and sauces is a surefire way to break the ice. One thing we all remember was that there was never any need for awkward small talk with new women who would join us. We were all working together, flour everywhere, tomato paste smeared across our faces – all with toddlers or babies in tow.
We would immediately get straight into the nitty gritty of what had happened in the past week, e.g. how one woman (ahem) dented the car backing out of the driveway she was so sleep deprived, relationship challenges, more sleep deprivation stories, breastfeeding troubles, toilet training wonderings, also, who the hell am I and what am I doing here? type questions.
You build a very real and meaningful community around you. Real quick.
MamaBake groups would be so bonded they would often evolve into laundry folding squads, house moving ninjas, childcare circles and so, so much more. Bonds that would endure through time.
2/ You get the week off cooking dinners
Yep. It’s true. Yes, it’s hard work cooking a huge batch of food on that one half (ish) a day a week, and yes, sure, it can be a session of pure chaos (but SO fun! All the kids absolutely loved MamaBake sessions. And the mamas would have a ball too) BUT, seriously, cooking with others and sharing is absolutely worth every second of it.
That moment when you get home with your box of homemade cooked dinners ready for the week ahead is like nothing else.
…and then that other moment, three nights on, when you’re absolutely and utterly done, sleep deprived more than you could ever imagine, your kids are going beserk and you literally don’t know your arse from your elbow and you realise that dinner is done. Yes – done.
That all you have to do is throw open your fridge door, pull out a lovingly made meal and just heat. I can tell you now, there is nothing like it in the world.
It’s not only giving your friends a serious leg-up for the week (hello, Endorphins!) but it’s also an act of radical self love too.
3/ The kids learn to cook and try new things
Getting together to cook and share meals is an awesome way for the kids to get more involved in food prep and cooking. We found that kids would be curious about all the new flavours and meals being made. Many would hop-up to get involved and feel immensely proud to have chopped the carrots for a HUGE pot of curry. Many of our kids loved coming home to try new foods and flavours. You know what it’s like, it’s delicious when anyone but you cooked the meal. Ergh!
We found that kids absolutely loved having little jobs to do and to be part of all the work.
4/ Longlasting, real friendships
Yep, we can’t stress this enough. When you’re working together in this way, those bonds become real and strong. You’re in an environment of others who are on the same, or very similiar, journey as you. You can share and check in with one another as time goes on. You’re helping each other for the week ahead and you’re sharing your experiences (whatever they may be – and yes, that might mean breaking down if you need to!). From all of that, meaningful friendships are formed or become stronger and more enduring.
Social connections make us happier – it’s not just us saying it, science says so. Google it for more info.
5/ We learn new stuff
We hear you: we really don’t want to know about more flippin’ recipes! Are we not all so tired of cooking and thinking about it?? Isn’t the point of it all to not have to think about it anymore?
Sure! But in the process of cooking together, you can’t help but pick up tips from the others around you: how to make your very own bagels (what?!), how to turn a huge basket of long red chillis into a Sambal Olek, how to make raspberry jam out of just three ingredients, how to make actual real chocolate! And when you expand those skills, you can save yourself heaps of money.
Motherhood and life experiences aside, we all learnt so much from one another about food.
We actually learnt so much from one another. Full stop.
6/ Save money and mental energy
You buy enough ingredients for one big batch recipe to feed six other families and that’s you – you’re done for family dinner shopping for the week (apart from your side veg)!
Instead of thinking about seven different meals, you’re thinking about, shopping for and prepping just one big meal. Pure awesomeness!
All in all, social connection + cooking with (and for) others + sharing = one happy you
Have you had a cook-up with your friends? Share in the comments.
Keen to have a go but have questions? Ask in the comments
Want to read more about it?
Here are real life group stories for you.