Once in a while, you meet someone and connect in less time than it takes you to say their name. Standing outside the hotel after BlogHer13 this past summer, a bit blurry after two days of non-stop chatting, I met this week’s guest blogger Alex Iwashyna of LateEnough.com. We ended up sharing a cab ride to the airport and swapping stories the whole way. Alex has an amazingly clever blog with a great voice, and I was thrilled when she offered to do a guest post for us. Read below and you’ll see that she’s not only funny, she’s wise. And when it comes to parenting, a little bit of wisdom goes a L O N G way. For more on Alex, see below!
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How to Help a New Mom When The Baby Comes Home
When a friend or family member has a new baby, everyone wants a snuggle and a sniff. Babies are so soft and sweet, and they smell so good. But sometimes ripping a baby out of a new mom’s arms isn’t the most helpful way to support a family in those first few weeks of adjusting to round-the-clock feedings, dirty diapers, and a new human being who doesn’t understand the term “weekend.”
If you want to be the best friend forever and maybe even get extra baby time for being so fantastic, here are my top 5 ways to support a new family when the baby arrives.
- Bring food: If you are coming to visit, bring a meal. You can be really thoughtful and chose one which is easily reheated and then not make too much of it. Pick easy recipes like baked ziti, stew, chili or whatever you like to cook. If you can’t cook, bring takeout from your or their favorite restaurant. This simple gesture is such a gift. Not having to make a meal allows a new family to focus on being a family and they may even get a nap in while the baby is sleeping.
- Do a chore: When you are there, offer to take out their garbage. Or do the dishes. Or throw in a load of laundry. Remember that they’re just learning how to hold the baby. The idea of holding a baby and cleaning a dish is terrifying. Doing a simple chore or getting as fancy as giving them a professional house-cleaning as a baby gift, can make a big difference to a new family. Sitting on a clean toilet with a sore bottom (labor – ouch!) or walking into a kitchen with an empty sink can raise someone’s spirits, and that is priceless.
- Run an errand: On your way over to visit or if you live in the neighborhood, ask if they need you to pick up anything because it takes them 45 minutes to pack up to go anywhere. They still think they need 5 outfit changes, 16 diapers, 20 toys, a parenting book, and 4 emergency numbers to safely get anywhere. Running an errand saves them half day!
- Listen: Don’t just focus on the baby. The new mom may be home for the first time with the baby and scared. She may be struggling with breastfeeding or postpartum depression. Or she may just want you know that her baby is first one to ever say “mama” at 1 week old. Another adult, who will listen, is so important during her weeks of maternity leave or adjustment to becoming a stay-at-home mom or just learning to be a mom for the first time. And don’t forget that dads need friends, too. He has a brand-new baby and usually had a much shorter-to-non-existent paternity leave on top of a worried wife staying home with the baby for the first time.
- Use your words: When all else fails, ask: How can I help? Even if the family says they’re fine, asking every so often means a lot.
The nice thing about this list is it can be applied to sick friends and all sorts of emergency for family members as well. You are going to be the best kind of person to have in so many situations. But don’t thank me. Just start with your new parent friends and enjoy those extra baby snuggles.
Alex Iwashyna went from an undergraduate degree in political philosophy to a medical doctor to a stay-at-home mom, poet and writer. She now spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog, except when it’s serious, about life, parenting, marriage, culture, religion and politics. She has a muse of a husband, two young kids and a readership that gives her hope for humanity. Follow Alex on Twitter here!