Updated: Dec 16, 2020
The baby’s here, Hurrraaaayyyy!
You’re so excited you just want to burst… and you’re not even the parent!
You want to help. You want to hug. You want to snuggle, kiss, and love.
All the love!
I hate to burst your bubble but… that’s not exactly what new momma, daddy, and baby need right now.
Hold your horses! Don’t walk away.
I’m not saying NOT to give all the love and feel all the feels. I’m just asking you to rethink the angle you take to share your affection in actually, really, truly helping the new parents and sweet baby you love from the bottom of your oh so full heart.
As a mom of three littles, I have been blessed with an over-abundance of love during and after the births of each of my children. Although my gratitude for all of that love is incalculable, the amount of actual help and support it served varied drastically.
Here are 5 simple ways to actually help the new parents, and baby, as they enter into this fresh and complicated chapter of their lives.
Food, all the Food!
The absolute BEST thing that you can do for a family who has just welcomed a new tiny love into their lives is to send food.
I’m telling you, these people are learning a whole new way to live life and are functioning under the command of a little human who has no concept or care as to whether it’s large servants are eating, sleeping, or thriving at all.
Food is KEY! I will personally fight anyone who says otherwise.
In the mad dash out the door to the hospital new Momma and Daddio have left a pile of unsorted baby gifts, a sink full of dishes, and laundry that will only get worse (poop, spit-up, leaky boobs, other leaky bits….).
When you come over for your visit, chatting and seeing all of the members of the new family is wonderful and oh so satisfying but, after you leave, those chores will still be there for those exhausted new parents if you don’t lend a hand. Don’t ask, just do it.
I repeat: DO NOT ASK! JUST DO!
If you see a load of clean clothes, fold them. Are there dishes in the sink? Wash them. On the counter? Put them away. Bags yet unpacked? Take them upstairs and get the job going. Don’t tell me you don’t know how they want them done. If I’ve learned anything from being a parent and a writer it’s that done is better than perfect.
Low battery, and draining fast!
They thought they were tired before the baby. They thought they worked hard and couldn’t sleep. They had no clue how the baby was going to change their life - and sleep patterns - so drastically.
When you come over to visit, be aware that their battery is already super low, and draining fast. Watch for signs of overwhelm, look at body language, and read between the lines when Momma says “it’s really no problem” and “I’m fine.”
Not only can this tell you when it’s time to let the new parent’s rest but it can also cue you into some of the more hiddle struggles of new parenthood like baby blues and postpartum depression (for Momma AND Daddy!).
Listen, if it’s this exciting for you to have this new baby in your life, imagine how exhilarating it must be for Momma and Daddio.
Step back and let them enjoy their moment.
They want you in it, for sure! I know they do because I know I did.
However, there’s also something very special to be said about soaking in a quiet time holding their tiny hand or staring into the beautiful new little eyes that you’ve just spent the last 9 months forming. No one else there to please. No one looking on. Just you and the new love of your life.
Here’s where the snuggles come in.
This is my favorite way of helping but I put it to last for a reason. All of the things noted above ought to come first, especially the FOOD! I’m telling you, some of the best baby gifts I received was a plate of BBQd chicken breasts and a dish of cabbage rolls but I digress.
When I say time, I’m now asking you to use advice #3 to allow you to ignore advice #4. These beautiful new parents, and good friends/family of yours, are learning how to live a whole different style of life. Between work, baby, house chores, and their own relationship, they may find it hard to take a shower let alone have a quiet time to just be them.
You can lose yourself on your parenthood journey without the right supports.
Take the baby (not away, just- y’know - snuggle and care for the little thing) while Momma and/or Daddy take a shower, a nap, a POOP for crying out loud! (seriously though) Let them go on a date, read a book, tune out for a bit.
This stage may not - and probably will not - arise until the baby is a little bit older but it is still important to support the family long after they seem to have settled into a routine.
Our support network is meant to be there for our lives - every day - not just for the obvious highs and lows.
As an added note, if you’re sick, you’re not doing anyone a favor if you just can’t wait to see the baby and help where you can. Keep your germs to yourself. See baby in pictures and wait for your illness to pass before you come around. Help from a distance by ordering pizza to their door, hiring a few visits from a cleaning company, or send a sweet word or two that shows how much you care.
I’ve been on both the giving and receiving end of helpful and not so helpful expressions of love and I am so forever grateful for it all. However, I’ve worked hard, through experience, to really hone in on the more valuable, appreciated side of things. There are so many ways to express your abundance of love. It’s important to try to make sure you’re doing it in a way that serves the needs of the new family before the barely containable yearnings of your affection for the new, tiny human.
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