Like the time I wrote about ways to show a blogger you like her, this post may seem self-serving. But, it is timely. I have three friends due to give birth this week, and plenty of NF buds are due this spring. I swear, it happens like osmosis, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how babies are made.
“Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.”
It’s a wonderful thing to hear, but most new moms are so overwhelmed, they have no idea what to do with that statement. Or, if you’re like me, you’re a little afraid that’s it just something that people say and are too timid to take them up on that offer. Or, again if you’re like me, you’re wondering what “anything” entails.
And while I admittedly need to get over this mental block I have of not knowing how to ask for help or accept help, I have realized that other people deal with this as well. So, when a friend of mine gives birth (or has surgery or a host of other things that can leave them overwhelmed), I try to be as specific with my offer as possible.
photo by my pal Christopher Capozziello
1) Be a helpline. If you want to help out a brand new mom and you’re a seasoned mom veteran, offer to let her call you at all hours of the night. I had Rembot only nine months before one of my friends had her baby, but I promised to keep my cell phone on my nightstand just in case she had any 3am freakouts and had a baby question. She probably only took me up on my offer a couple of times, but I was another line of defense (or reassurance) for her when the wee hours of the morning seem so lonely.
2) Round up some healthy meals. New moms are generally exhausted and wake up with that fresh I-just-got-ran-over-by-an-Isuzu-Rodeo feeling. While rich, comforting food DOES sound amazing, it will do nothing for her energy levels. Coordinating with a couple friends and taking turns doing something simple like cutting up a bunch of fresh fruit or mixing up granola and delivering it for breakfast is easy and will make this new mom forever grateful. Cause, you know, it’s easier for a new mom to throw a Pop Tart in the toaster oven than it is to attack a whole pineapple with a machete.
3) Kidnap her kiddies. Uh. Not the new one. The other one(s), if she’s got them. And get them out of the dang house. Give Mom a morning where it’s just her and the new baby, and give the kiddies a morning where they can run around somewhere else and not have to patiently wait through yet another breastfeeding or diaper session. YOU WILL MAKE THE WHOLE FAMILY HAPPY. :D
4) Clean, if you’re close. If you’re close pals, like.. you’ve seen the state of each other’s kitchens after a weekend the stomach bug hit the house… then yes, offer to help clean. “I’m coming over to clean your bathroom” or “I’m coming over to clean out your fridge” or “I’m coming over to wash, dry, fold, and put away an entire load of laundry for you” are all totally wonderful things to say to a friend. But if you’re not super close, spare her that offer. She’ll end up stressing out and trying to clean BEFORE you get there.
5) Or, send someone to clean. Find a reputable professional cleaning service and pay for a one-time cleaning.
6) Run a couple of errands. Return those baby gifts to the store, bring back the library books, drop off the Redbox rental, fill up her gas tank. Teeny things that may seem overwhelming to a new mom.
7) Rock that screaming baby. Sometimes she needs a break from her sweet newborn, especially if her newborn seems to be prone to crying jags. After the baby is fed, have her take off her shirt and throw it over your shoulder (her scent comforts baby). Send her into the shower (where she can’t hear and get some much-needed alone time) while you rock the baby for her.
8) Want to help but you’re far away or have your own crew to take care of? Sometimes I simply cannot make the time investment to help another mom, but I want to do something to show her I love her and appreciate her. When you can’t be there, how about: 1) sending her a gift card to a restaurant in her area so she can order take-out, 2) buying a couple of healthy and tasty snacks/drinks online (via Amazon, for example) and having them sent to her house, 3) sending a pack of diapers to her house. When she texts you to say thank you, respond with: Don’t you dare send me a thank you card. You’ve got enough junk to do. :)
9) Help her get out of the house. Moms (and their kids) can get cabin fever, but the thought of leaving the house seems daunting. Pick a morning and tell her you’ll meet her at her home to help her pack up the kid(s). Something as simple as being an extra set of hands while she pushes around a stroller at Target can do wonders for her.
10) Sleep on her couch. This one helps out Dad, too. Tell her you’ll swing by around 8:00pm and stay til midnight. Once she gets the baby down, send the parents to bed and tell them to sleep. You hang out on their couch, eat Cheetos, fold laundry, etc. When the baby cries, give her a bottle (or gently wake your pal up for a nursing session). Let Mom go back to bed while you change the diaper and hang out with the baby or rock her back to sleep. The parents gets a solid four hours of sleep and maybe a clean living room, and you get all the Cheetos you want.
Do any of these, and you will bring tears of joy to a new mom. And she will not forget it when you’re the one living in a sweatpants-clad daze with a crying newborn. Promise. Pinky swear.
Got more to add to the list? What helped you most? :)