"I had five attempts and many opportunities to make mistakes, learn from them and do it better next time": quintuple mom Alessandra Meyer-Wölden (36), who now shares her tips, tricks and recipes in the book "Just add Love "(Graefe and Unzer) reveals in an interview with spot on news how she manages her everyday life.
In "Just add Love" you present many recipes. How did your passion for cooking lead to the book?
Alessandra Meyer-Wölden: I am not a trained cook – the book is really from mom to mom. And that also makes it a matter of the heart. I have always had a huge passion for cooking, I was already in the kitchen as a little girl and watched my mother. Now, in everyday life with five children, I can't avoid it. And because I enjoy it so much, I started sharing it with my followers on social media. The feedback was so positive that the question arose whether it could be turned into a book. I worked on it for over a year and now I share a piece of me with the world. This is something very special.
The key to a happy family life is time management, you write. How long did it take you to find your balance?
Meyer-Wölden: Of course it was different with the first child, you are still a little uncertain. Now, ten years later with children number four and five, we are a well-coordinated team. I had five attempts and lots of opportunities to make mistakes, learn from them and do better next time. And so I also realized that time management is the most important thing. Overall, the book is much more than a cookbook, it is a guide with tips and tricks from my everyday life to help other mothers. I learned from my mistakes and managed to optimize everything – in a large family.
Many mothers feel worn out between children, job, household, marriage. What would be your first advice?
Meyer-Wölden: A family depends on the mother. The most important thing is to say "stop" and not lose yourself. You should try to take care of yourself and feel good – through exercise, a beauty program, or maybe cooking. Cooking brings me peace of mind, I enjoy it and also gives me the opportunity to live out my creativity. And when the mother is doing well, it is also reflected in the children, in married life, in the rest of the family.
You have learned from your previous athletic life how important routine and rituals are. How do children and parents benefit from this?
Meyer-Wölden: Children need a regular everyday life with structure and organization. If this is missing in a family, chaos breaks out. The little ones experience safety when they realize that the parents are structured and they know what is coming – without surprises, but with an everyday life that repeats itself. I noticed that with a child it is difficult not to lose control. With five children it is not possible without a regulated and structured everyday life that is planned from start to finish. We are a family of seven, if I don't plan and organize, I set a schedule, then I lose track of everyone.
What will help you if the stress breaks out despite the best planning?
Meyer-Wölden: You can never avoid that completely; with five children it is basically a stressful situation. After all, they are children and not robots. There is always someone who has caught a cold or has had bad dreams at night. And you also have a bad day. The most important thing is to keep calm. And it helps if you have this structure and an everyday life that makes the rest of your own.
How do you organize daily meals?
Meyer-Wölden: I basically cook fresh for my children every morning: from breakfast, to snacks for school or lunch, which I give them because I just want to control what the children eat. We have only one body and I think it is extremely important to cook fresh for the children. When I do my basics like tomato sauce or Bolognese, I also like to cook a little more and freeze some. After all, something can always happen that prevents you from coming to the boil. On Sunday evening I also make a meal plan for the whole week, also to keep track of my purchases.
Which dishes are particularly popular with children?
Meyer-Wölden: In the book I included exactly the dishes that the children love: lasagna, burgers or chicken nuggets. I tried to give a base of recipes to other mothers who speak to children. After all, which child doesn't like pizza? And if the offspring does not know that cauliflower is hidden in the batter, this is a way for mothers to do a little trick. The children are happy about the pizza, the mothers know that it is healthy. Nobody should feel that they have to do without something.
You completely do without industrial sugar in your recipes …
Meyer-Wölden: I basically do without industrial sugar everywhere. And I hope that I have given my children a good basis for saying "no" to them elsewhere. For example, I use dates or sweet potatoes that are naturally sweet enough. There are plenty of ways to replace industrial sugar or get the sweetness from fruits or vegetables.
And how do you deal with it when the children request packed ice cream or a soft drink on the way?
Meyer-Wölden: I make sure that the children do not have the feeling that they have to do without anything and am the last one to say "no". Trying is always part of it. But if you stay consistent right from the start and only offer the child water, for example, then no soft drinks will be required. My kids don't ask about it either because they don't know it or because their taste hasn't developed in that direction. Other mothers then look at me and ask what is going on with my children. (Laughs)