Sarah Lyons, contributing writer
Adjusting to having a new baby in the house can be difficult for the whole family. Sleepless nights and a change in routine can leave mom feeling overwhelming and exhausted. Offering support to a family with a new baby can help them adjust to their new normal. Often, when you ask, mom isn’t able to think of the exact way she needs help. Here are some ideas.
Stop by the store. Going to the store with newborn and possibly older children for the first time can be a daunting task. Offer to pick up a few things the family needs. This is especially easy if you will be out running errands already.
Help around the house. Sweep the floor, fold the laundry, vacuum or do dishes. Even a little bit of tidying up can make a big difference. A clean house during a time of transition can bring order to a time that feels chaotic. The new mom may prefer to clean herself, if she does, you could offer to care for the baby and other children while she works on a household project.
Help with the older kids. Show support by offering to pick up the older kids, even if it’s just for a couple hours. If you are taking your own children to the park, swing by and pick up her’s for the afternoon. This gets them out of the house and gives mom a break. Driving the kids to school or activities is also a big help for a family with a new baby. Time alone with baby may be just what mom needs.
Ask about her birth story. Giving birth is a huge milestone, an experience no mom will ever forget. Every birth has a story and many times, there aren’t a lot of chances to tell it. Ask about her birth story and listen. Becoming a mom is a joyful, stressful, awe inspiring and life changing experience. Telling the birth story helps women process and embrace this journey.
Bring a gift for mom. Many people bring gifts for the baby, but mom is usually the one doing all the work. Bring a snack or treat for mom to enjoy. Other great gifts are ones that pamper mom or make her feel beautiful and comfortable in her postpartum body. Lotion, perfume, a new nightgown or slippers are some good ideas. A delivery of flowers is another great way to bring cheer and make mom feel special.
Don’t stay too long. Families with newborns generally like to have company, especially if they help around the house and with older kids. However, don’t overstay your welcome. New parents tire easily. Visit the family, bring a meal and help out but watch for clues as to when the family would like some alone time.
Take her somewhere. Mom may not be able to drive for a few weeks after birth. Offer to take her on errands or just out for coffee. Being able to get out of the house can do wonders for someone’s attitude.
Don’t give advice. An important tip for anyone chatting with a new mom is to listen but don’t give advice unless you are asked. It can be frustrating and overwhelming to get unsolicited advice from everyone she bumps into.
Ask mom what would help her. Would she prefer to have help with housework? Would she like you to hold the baby while she gets some things done? Some moms would prefer to have someone to chat with for awhile and some moms may want to get out of the house for a bit. Offer several options and see what sounds most appealing to the new mom. Any offer to help is always appreciated by a family adjusting to having a new baby in the house.