Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How to Help a Mom With a Newborn (Revisited)

Right after Walker was born, I wrote the first edition of this post, which you can find here. I'm going to do quite a bit of regurgitating on it, so if you don't want to click over, it's all below, with some new stuff added in for the second go-round and a note to the new mamas. ;)


How to Help a Mom With a Newborn (Revisited):
These are those things that I honestly didn't really "get" until Walker was born, so I wanted to share them with you in hopes of making your lives a little easier. Having a newborn -- a baby in general -- is so daunting {at least it was for me}, and I hope this helps you prepare for your sweet baby {or babies!} and will aid those who will be visiting you once he or she is born. 

But before I get to the nitty-gritty, let me preface this by saying something to the mamas: Having a new baby is absolutely wonderful and it's 100 percent understood that people will want to come from near and far to visit said baby, especially for your first baby. People are excited, especially your family and close friends! My Dad gave me the best advice when he was leaving our house right after Walker was born: "People only come to see the baby because they love you and care about you. So, let them come. Don't worry about how your house looks; they don't care. They just want to come see the baby out of love and respect for you." 

So here we go: 

How to Help a New Mom {and Dad}: Visiting

1. See what time(s) work for them for you to stop by. 
Would they prefer you visit at the hospital or at home? If at the hospital, check to see if the hospital has visitation hours. Our hospital had "serenity hour" from 2-4 p.m. each day, so no visitors were allowed. {And try to do your research online before calling or texting the new parents asking for this information. They're so tired/over the moon/hormonal that the last thing they want or need to do is ask a nurse who needs to confirm the hours with her supervisor and then text you back with those said hours. It seems menial, but it will mean a lot to them that you tried to do your research.} 

If the new parents want you to visit them at home, check to see what time(s) work best for the new family. Most new moms will be exhausted and trying to get the baby on a sleeping and/or feeding schedule -- or busy juggling another child, too -- so check with her first to see what time is best. When we first got home, Walker would eat every two hours, so we'd have people stop by right after he finished eating, if at all possible. No visitors like to come and the mom is back in the bedroom feeding the baby!

And I know this sounds silly, but as soon as you walk into that hospital room or the home, wash your hands before anyone has to ask you or tell you to. Trust me, when you're a new mom, that "Mama Bear" instinct comes out and you just want to scream at someone who doesn't wash their hands before picking up your fresh-outta-the-oven baby. 

Also, don't stay long. I'm not saying you have to stay for 10 minutes, but don't park your rear on their couch and expect to watch the first half of a football game, either. Hold the baby, ask what you can do, visit with the parents, ask them how they are -- and let me be frank, don't ask them how they're sleeping -- and then wrap up your visit. There is nothing worse to a new mom than wanting to nap but feeling like she has to entertain. And for the love of all things holy, do not ring the dang doorbell! 

On a personal note, the best thing we did was not have any visitors the day we came home from the hospital. We were all three so tired, and it was just nice to be able to come home, unpack our bags and start laundry, have a home-cooked meal by my mom, and love on our baby. We let people know that outright and told them we'd love for them to visit us the next day. 

2. Text Instead of Calling
Speaking of seeing what times work, it was easier for us if people would text us instead of calling us. It was so much easier to return a text than answer the phone and have a full conversation {#firstworldproblems, I know}. Plus, if Walker was screaming, the poor person on the other end of the phone wasn't privy to that. And, the phone ringing didn't wake the baby.

3. Don't Come Empty-Handed 
My Mom always taught me to bring a full meal to a new mom: a main course, a side or two and dessert. Yes, it's tough for you to make all of that, but trust me: the family will appreciate it more than you know!

When you have a new baby, you barely have time to microwave soup, much less get in the kitchen and fix supper! Also, if you can't or don't cook, ask the family what they would like from a local restaurant and bring that to them. Whether it's home-cooked or pizza from a restaurant, trust me -- the new family will appreciate it. {Just make sure it's not too spicy if the new mom is breastfeeding.} 

We were so blessed that my mom was here at first and made us very yummy, homemade meals that were conducive to me breastfeeding: meatloaf, mashed potatoes, peas and rolls, for example. {Nothing too spicy!} Then, we had friends and family make and/or bring us meals when my mom and dad left. My grandparents were awesome and brought us a ton of frozen meals, and I made and froze meals before Walker was born. My aunt brought us salads we wanted from a local salad place, my best friend sent us a pizza, and my nephew's mom brought us Olive Garden. And it was all equally appreciated! 

On this same vein, we had someone bring us raw chicken breasts and tell us they didn't have time to cook, but that we could grill them and add them to a salad. I wish I was joking.  I barely had time to brush my teeth, much less go outside in January and grill some chicken breasts and then find the ingredients for a dang salad. Don't be that person. If you honestly don't have the time, just don't worry about it. Send the family a food gift card in the mail; that will mean so much more to them than a random, off-the-wall "treat" like raw chicken breasts. 

How to Help a New Mom {and Dad}: Helping Around the House

4. Ask What You Can Do to Help Around the House 
Everyone tells a new mom to "nap when the baby naps." And that's all well and good at first…until she sees her overflowing laundry hamper or piles of dishes in the sink! Then -- at least for me -- baby's nap time turned into laundry hour. So, if you're close enough family or friends with the new family, ask what you can do to help around their house. 

Most new moms will be too proud to let you help, but insist! Whether it's unloading the dishwasher, folding a load of laundry, walking their dog, checking their mail or just taking a bag of trash from the kitchen to the garage, the family will appreciate it so much. A direct quote from my husband: "Even the smallest chore is a great help." 

My mom and mother-in-law were very helpful in that regard, even running to the grocery store to pick up a few things we were out of (e.g. milk, yogurt, laundry detergent). 

5. Offer to Watch the Baby
If you're close enough to the new family, offer to watch the baby for an hour or two while the new mom and/or dad go to dinner, the grocery store or run a few errands. No matter how in love the new parents are with their sweet bundle of joy, they still will want a tiny little break -- even if they do talk about their baby the whole time! 

My grandparents and aunt were so helpful with this: my grandparents watched Walker while Brandon and I went to dinner on Valentine's Day; my aunt watched him while we went to sushi; my mother-in-law while I got a manicure and pedicure; and my aunt again while we attended a family funeral. It was comforting to know that we could get out for an hour {typically right after I fed him} and we had family who loved on him while we were out. 

6. Offer to Hold or Feed the Baby  
If you have time, offer to hold or feed the baby while the new mom takes a shower or a short nap or uses two hands to eat. This was beyond helpful for me, because sometimes you have to decide whether to sleep, eat, fold laundry or shower…and sometimes showering sadly takes the back burner. Also, if you offer to hold the baby while the mom showers, she can take a nice, hot, longer-than-five-minutes-with-the-baby-sitting-in-the-bouncer-screaming-outside-the-shower shower. {And maybe even shave her legs! Gasp!} 

My mom and mother-in-law would take Walker right after I fed him and would order me to go take a nap. Even if it was just an hour, it was wonderful to not have to keep one ear open and just rest in pure silence. I also had friends who would bring over lunch or dinner and tell me to eat while they held the baby. It was so nice to be able to use two hands to eat and actually enjoy my food, and that meant so much to me! 

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And now, here's my little note to the mamas: 

New Mom, 

I'm going to be really up front with you. I'm about to have another baby in four short months, so I'm talking to myself here, too. You ready? People are going to want to come see your baby. LET THEM. People are going to want to help you. LET THEM. Your mother-in-law is going to drive you crazy. IT'S GOING TO BE OKAY. 

People -- especially your family and close friends -- are going to want to come see that new baby because they love you and are so excited about your new addition. They will say some off-the-wall things. They will sit in your recliner with your baby and watch HGTV while you fold laundry. They will offer their unsolicited advice. They will tell you their horror birth stories and ask you how many stitches you have. But just smile, nod, and let them visit you. Why? Because them visiting you means they love you. 

That's not to say that you can't -- and shouldn't -- have rules and boundaries. Make it clear up front your wishes, but don't be demanding or rude. There is no free pass for rudeness. Period. You are going to be tired, you are going to be hormonal, you are going to not remember the last time you brushed your teeth. But, as we say down South, don't be ugly -- in what you say or what you do. If you don't want visitors between 2-4 p.m., make that known in a nice way. If you don't want people ringing the doorbell, put a sign out front. If you simply don't want visitors at all, well, I can't help you there. 

If people want to help you, let them. They're not going to fold your laundry the way you do. But remind yourself that the laundry's getting done and be thankful you have clean Granny Panties to wear tomorrow. They're not going to load your dishwasher the way you do. But remind yourself that the dishwasher is unloaded and be thankful you didn't have to reach into that high cabinet to put away the serving bowl. They're not going to brush your toddler daughter's hair the way you do, but remind yourself that her hair is being brushed and her hair isn't in her eyes. 

I'm a proud person myself who likes for it to appear that I have all my stuff together. It's hard for me to let my guard down and let someone help me. But let them help you. Let them take your toddler to the park for an hour so you can nap. Let them bring you lunch and hold your baby while you eat. Let them bring you donuts for tomorrow morning's breakfast. Because guess what? In about a month, the "new" is going to wear off and you're going to want someone to be there to do all of those things. 

I don't say this to be harsh. I say this to be real. People love you, they're excited for you, and all they want is to help you because they love you and care about you. They know you're tired. They know your boobs hurt in ways you didn't even think were humanly possible. They know you just want to guzzle that bottle of wine because you haven't had any in 10 months. They know. They may have forgotten or need a gentle reminder, but they know. So be sweet. Be loving. Be gracious. In a few short months, you'll be wishing it were polite to call and say, "Hey! Want to come hold my kid while I eat now?" ;) 

New Mom, I get it. It's rough. But let me encourage you: You got this. You just carried, birthed and are being super mom to a tiny human whose every moment of life depends on you. You're a rockstar. The baby will sleep again. Your boobs will stop hurting. You will sleep again, too {albeit not until 9 a.m., but you get the picture}. You got this. 

Sincerely, 

A Mom Who Has Been There -- and is about to be there again 

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I hope these things have been or will be helpful to you! Are there any things I've left off? Did any of these help you, too? 

11 comments:

  1. These are such great tips - I know my sister really loved having visitors, but when she was ready for them LOL! I like that you said text instead of call! That's a great one! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

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  2. This is such a great post! One of my best friends is having a baby in July and I want to make sure I can be as helpful as possible since her family isn't in the area. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Thank you for sharing this! I've always been so hesitant to over step with my new mom friends so this is so helpful! And being a "I've got it all together" type myself, I need alllll the reminders I can get to let people help me once the baby is here! I know it's going to be hard for me but I'm trying to mentally prepare. Completely unrelated but what is your actual due date? I'm due May 14 and I feel like we've got to be really, really close together!

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  4. Love love love this! Esp the part about MIL's ;)

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  5. The raw chicken! I can't even!!! Ha. A friend suggested to me that I put up a dry erase board on the fridge with things that need to be done. That way people will see what chores nedd to be done but you can avoid the awkwardness of telling them what to do! Worked like a charm for us!

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  6. I could have used this 3.5 months ago - such a nice reminder to be gracious! I was not all that gracious to my in-laws and even though I'm not sure they noticed, I still feel the guilt!!

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  7. These are really great tips! Thanks so much for sharing!


    xx
    Lauren Elizabeth
    Petite in Pearls

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  8. A friend of mine just had a baby so these are super helpful tips!

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  9. Fabulous post, lady! I always bring food when I visit a new mom and only hold the baby if they offer. My mom always told me to offer to help around the house and not just hold the cute baby so I've taken that into account whenever I visit a new mama.

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  10. This is fabulous! As we keep talking about kids I will most definitely be revisiting this! And remembering the tips for when friends have babies shortly!

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  11. So true! Especially with the second baby: TAKE THE OLDER KID. PLEASE. My daughter was jumping out of her skin to go outside and play, and we did not have the energy to bundle everyone up and leave the house. It was so helpful when our neighbors offered to have her over for an hour so we could get some rest and she could get the wiggles out.

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