Updated: Feb 12, 2019
Many of us have said it. "Let me know how I can help" and we really do mean it. We know that bringing home a baby is HARD. Hard on the Mothers, hard on the family, hard on the finances. Hard in SO MANY ways. The days go by... Weeks. And we don't hear from the new Mom or Dad, so we assume everything is going well. And maybe they are? I HOPE THEY ARE! Unfortunately chances are that they are not breezing through this transition unscathed. Likely they are just trying to get through the mealtimes, and appointments, and daily chores.
So does that mean they don't want our help? Probably not, but with their never ending list of things to do why don't we help by taking the first step. Offering the specifics, so here are a few ideas that you can offer to help a new Mom and Dad. Send them a text or email with your offer and a few choices of times/days. TRUST me! Your making their day by taking the work out of this seemingly harmless question of "how can I help?"
We all eat, and its amazing how something so simple as preparing a quick meal can turn into an overwhelming task when coupled with caring for a newborn. So by bringing them a frozen meal, cooked meal, or easy snacks you are making the essential task of eating much more manageable. Make a batch of healthy muffins or cut up a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Tell Mom and Dad exactly when you will be dropping off this gift and let them know you do not plan on staying long. OR AT ALL (even better). Sometimes parents do not ask for help like this because of the obligation to then host a visit. Help should come with no strings attached.
You can set them up with a meal train. Contact their friends and family and get them to sign up for a day to bring dinner. But make sure they know to drop it off and not go in. I'll let you know why in a bit.
Is it winter? Maybe shovel the driveway? Is it summer? Cut the grass? Water garden? Do you have a washer and dryer in your home? Maybe you could pick up their laundry and return it the next day clean and folded. Try to anticipate the needs of the new parents. You could arrange to come over and clean their kitchen and bathroom while Mom and baby nap or are out at an appointment. Run errands like pick up groceries or mail. Walk their dog or clean the kitty litter box. These are all things that weigh on the new parents mind as they are going through their day. Mom's who are recovering for a cesarean are especially vulnerable to things like carrying heavy things or walking up or down stairs. So anything you can do to lighten the load will be very much appreciated.
Is this their 2nd, 3rd, 4th? Then you have a great opportunity to help. Take those children and give them a fun outing. Bonus points if its exercise that will wear them out for later. Plan ahead to take the other children as often as you can. This gives the parents a chance to take a much deserved breather. Not to mention how great it is for kids to have lots of grown ups in their life that love them and want to spend time with them.
I know I just told you to text the parents and offer specific things, and I stand by that. But like I said before, help should not come with strings. Just because they want some freezer meals does not mean you have an excuse to invite yourself in. The pressure to host can be a huge stresser for new, tired parents. So anticipate this and be clear that you are happy to drop things off, do chores quietly and without company etc. When they have more energy and Mom has recovered from birthing a child, they are going to be in a better frame of mind to visit and show off their new babe. Give them time.
This might sound strange. And I don't mean e-transfer them a twenty and call it a day. I mean if the things I mentioned above are not your cup of tea, or you have a family and career that take up all your time, you can still help.
Instead of throwing a baby shower where everyone spends money on gifts, pool your money together and put it towards hiring support for when baby comes home. While having a closet full of cute baby clothes is adorable, its not going to help the new parents get through the day when they are exhausted and overwhelmed. But postpartum support will.