I ran across the article below with some really good, useful suggestions on ways to help the mother of a newborn. Whether for friends, family members, or service workers and professional tradesmen who come to the house, this is useful reading for everyone.
I would have given a kidney if someone would have done any of these things for me after the birth of my second child. To the people who brought my family food while I was so busy with my baby, you will never know the full extent of my gratitude!
1. Take their other kids somewhere.
Anywhere — just get them out of their house. It’s so much harder when you have to tend to a new baby and to your other kids. So take out her other children as often as you can!
2. Bring food.
And I mean food that comes in a disposable pan or food that you can dump in a crock pot. Do not bring anything that she’ll have to wash and worry about getting back to you. If you just don’t cook, bring paper plates and silverware… so if she’s forced to cook for herself, at least you’ll help her minimize how many dishes she has to clean up.
3. Fork over the money for a stranger to clean the house.
Best. Gift. Ever. But you have to pay for someone else to come clean their house, you can’t be the one to do it. There is no way in hell I’d feel comfortable watching a friend clean my house and sort my dirty laundry. Or put things away in my drawers. Who knows what they’d find! But I wouldn’t feel guilty lying around in my pajamas, nursing a new baby, while watching a stranger clean up my hot mess.
4. Watch their baby while they take a nap.
Before coming over, you have to say… I’m going to come over to watch your baby while you sleep. It doesn’t work if you just show up and say you’re going to do it, because then she’ll play the “oh-no-I’m-fine” game.
5. Recognize signs of postpartum depression.
Although it’s common for women to have “Baby Blues,” it can quickly turn into postpartum depression. If you begin to notice that a new mom does not really want to take care of herself or her baby, encourage her or her family to seek additional help. Be on the lookout for telltale signs that moms might need a little extra help.
6. Get them out of the house.
Sometimes both mom and baby just need to get out of the house. Find a way to encourage everyone to get some fresh air, even if it’s just to take a walk around the neighborhood.
7. Be extra attentive if their baby has any sort of issue.
I once watched a friend’s baby who had really bad reflux. After watching her all day, I thought, “There is no way her mom doesn’t need more help than she’s letting on.” Her baby was so much work! So if a baby has any other issue that makes him or her a little harder to handle, try to go out of your way to help — mom and dad may really need it!
8. Go to the grocery store for her.
Or watch her baby while she goes to the grocery store. I really enjoyed this after I had my baby. I spent two hours at the store once, and when I came home, my friend was like, “and you only came back with two things?!?” But it was so nice just walking around a familiar place with no one to feed or hold…
9. Make a sign for their door that says “Baby Sleeping.”
It never fails… you just put the baby to bed and FedEx or UPS or your neighbor comes over and rings your doorbell, waking up the baby. I always wanted to make a sign, but somehow, I never got around to it. I can’t count how many times I’ve given someone the evil eyeball for just ringing the doorbell. Somewhere out there, there’s a group of Girl Scouts that will never knock on my door again…
10. Always come with a package of diapers or wipes.
Let’s be honest — our kids don’t need more cute clothes! But you know they’re going to go through those diapers like they’re not $23 a box. A less expensive alternative? Bring wipes! You end up using them for everything from wiping a baby’s bottom to wiping up a spill in your car to wiping the makeup off your own hand when you’re in a hurry and can’t find your foundation brush. Always a useful gift!