Because they’ll ask, so your best bet is to have an answer ready!
Anyone who is a parent has heard the chime from friends and family: “What can we do to help?” The savvy parent is one who had an answer to that question, ready to go! Be that savvy parent, whether it’s your first time on the birthing merry-go-round or if you have season tickets to that event!
Of course, if you have a postpartum doula, you’ve got a lot of your needs covered, but there is always something that needs doing.
Like what, you ask?
Here’s just a short list of tasks you could mention when friends offer to help:
•Hanging out with older siblings or taking them out for a treat
•Grocery shopping or drugstore run
•Laundry and ironing
•General tidying up around the house
•Returning library books
•Picking up dry cleaning
•Picking up other necessities for older siblings so they’re ready for school / camp / whatever…
•Lawn maintenance including mowing or watering
•Simply sitting with the baby while you take a long awaited shower!
If you sit and think about it for even a few minutes, your list will be longer than this!
Friends: don’t just offer to help… help!
Food, glorious food—Not just homemade dinners that can be popped from freezer to oven with no fuss, but think about other options. Think about a service that delivers meals ready made, without mom needing to entertain the delivery person. Ultimately, while visitors bearing food related gifts are most welcome, a stream of them can become overwhelming, so a meal service might be just the ticket.
Another great option is to start a Mealtrain. This online tool allows you to share it with friends and family so as to organize who is bringing what food and when, avoiding duplication and everyone arriving at once with their family favorite casserole!
Hire a housekeeper—In the same vein as the meal service, above, hiring a housekeeper for a month or two, so mom can focus on being mom and not on the laundry or the state of the bathrooms, is a perfect way to say you care.
Make action positive statements—Never ask a new mom “what can I do to help?”. While the list above might prompt mom to give you an actual answer, many new moms are frazzled and tired and reluctant to burden other people with the frazzle and fatigue. Instead, text her an action question: “I’m going to XYZ store, what do you need?” And don’t take “I’m okay” for an answer.
Gifts for mom too—Predictably, most of the gifts that the new family receives are for the new baby. Makes sense, but how about something special for mom too? Perhaps a luxurious bathrobe? Or some 300 count sheets that you proceed to put on her bed for her, after which you will take baby into the garden so that mom can have a nap in between her new sheets? Perfection!
Stay in touch—After the first couple of weeks, the stream of baby-visiting guests and wellwishers tends to fade away and mom is suddenly left on her own with a new baby and no sleep. Staying in touch, even with a text message, can let mom know that you’re still there with her and that you care. That can make all the difference when baby has been crying for hours!
Bring wellness home—There’s little chance mom will feel like going for a massage or a mani in the early days, but these things can come to her! Arrange an in-home massage while you are there to take care of baby or perhaps a travelling mani / pedi professional can come and give mom that pop of color that she’s been needing.
Give a hand with the four legged kids—When mom and baby come home, poor fido or kitty tend to get forgotten for a little while. Make sure puppy gets a walk by hiring someone local to take care of that for a few weeks, or just check the litter box while you’re there, to make sure that’s taken care of.
Baby gifts are lovely—who doesn’t love footie pyjamas, after all? But friends should be more than spenders of money and giver of gifts. They should be there in the tough moments too, when you need them most. It’s not always obvious to non-parents how they can best help, so don’t be afraid to speak up if asked, and friends, follow the list! You won’t go wrong!
If you really want to give mom a gift she’ll remember forever, get her the gift of time with a postpartum / hospital doula. She’ll probably name the baby after you! (No, not really!)