I have a number of friends expecting babies in the next few weeks. Almost as if they all got in the mood at the same time. I guess March is baby making season? Anyway it’s been reminding me of my time as a new parent and what I really needed from my friends and family to adjust to life with a newborn. Now most of my friends who are having children soon aren’t first time parents but that doesn’t make the adjustment any easier or less scary. So I think we should all try to keep in mind some things that helped or hurt us when we brought those babies home.
Here is my ultimate top five things you can get/do to help new parents:
We need food that we don’t have to think about. Food that isn’t a commitment or time management issue. Food that is easy to eat with one hand while we nurse or bottle feed a newborn. A meal train is a lovely thing you can easily arrange for your friend or family member. Especially if they have other kids and still need to feed their hungry loud little mouths. Do it on their schedule not what is convenient for you.
If you can’t, delivery is totally acceptable! Don’t insist on staying and socializing if they seem tired. Do offer to hold the baby but don’t stare at them in their disheveled half alive state (this is something my in-laws loved doing). Remember your friend/family member just either pushed a baby out, had a baby cut out of them, or had a baby shoved into their arms on less than 5 hours of sleep. Sit down, be calm and feed them.
After all food is love.
#4: Clean Up
But only if it seems like it’s something they’d like. Tell them how overwhelmed by housework you were when you had your baby. Do the dishes while your spouse holds their baby and your friends eat dinner. If you can swing it, gift them with a cleaning service that comes every week for the first few weeks or something like that. It’s an amazing gift and then they won’t feel weird about it since you’re their friend and they don’t want to burden you or seem like they aren’t handling it all.
#3: Run Errands
Go to the store for them. There are a hundred things you don’t realize you need until you give birth. If you are coming to visit, ask if they need anything from Target. Target has literally everything and you can get them small food items, diapers (always bring diapers, there are never enough diapers, but find out what brand they like), nipple pads, a small sound machine…WHATEVER. Leaving the house with a newborn is so difficult. Make those trips for them.
We new parents are so tired. Bone achingly tired. Whoever made up the saying “sleep like a baby” clearly has spent very little time with babies. Newborns sleep in 2 hour increments, sometimes even less. Offer to come in the middle of the day, send them back to bed and don’t get them up unless it’s feeding time again and even then just bring the baby to mama or get a bottle and let the baby feed and take it away again. If you want to help sleep is one of the major things that can help a family member. If they have other kids, take the kids out so mom can nap. Take the baby on a walk in stroller while the kids play. Get that mama or papa (but let’s be honest mostly mama) some quiet.
#1: Listen & Give Support
Be there. Don’t stop once that baby is 2 weeks old. Don’t disappear. Everyone wants to see a newborn, but once the visiting stops and the excitement wears off the loneliness sets in. Having a new baby is incredibly isolating. Listen to your friend. Ask them in depth questions and don’t settle for “we are doing just fine.” Be the support system.
Help new parents build their village.
Because we all know that’s what it takes, but villages don’t build themselves. Villages take the work of many people being there and doing what needs to be done. Mothers and fathers cannot do that alone. So just be there. Just come over. Midday is even better than any other time since that’s when they are in the middle of trying to make it as a parent. Their spouse may be at work and they aren’t used to being home all the time. Or they are used to it but they aren’t used to wrangling multiple kids and baby and could use extra hands.
I’ve written about how important it is to maintain connections after having children with both single and childfree friends, but it is just as hard sometimes when your friends all have older kids. The rules are almost the same.
Whether your loved one is going to be staying home with the baby long term or just for 6 weeks, a good hang session sitting on the couch and gabbing is the best thing you can possible do. If you don’t have the time to always be there in person, text.
Text every day, text silly memes and funny articles. Text events that they could do in the future when their kids are older. Stay in touch in any way possible. Forge that connection. Just not late at night because they will not be awake past 9 pm.
Do you have other tips for ways to help new parents get their footing? Let us know in the comments!