There are many cliches about parenthood that i’ve already learned to be true: it takes a village, you never knew your heart could love so much, and it’s the most exhausting yet rewarding job ever. But I’ve also come to understand things that may be less than helpful in these early days. Although so many people want to be involved out of the goodness of their hearts, all the attention and outreach can be overwhelming. So I asked a few girlfriends who had babies around the same time as Colton to help me come up with a list of ways to help a new mother. Here’s what we all agreed on:
Drop off meals.
This is first on the list for a reason. Exhaustion levels are at an all-time high in the babies first few weeks and the very last thing a mother wants to think about is cooking. I underestimated just how little energy or motivation i’d have for eating let alone preparing food. So dropping off meals to the growing family is priceless. We were so humbled and honored to have lots of help in this arena with parents stocking our cupboards and friends offering multiple dishes. And whether it’s take-out or homecooked, trust me that doesn’t matter.
Do the laundry + dishes.
When Colton was two weeks old I had a friend visit who said, “I don’t mean this as anything bad (because for anyone else it’s normal), but the way I can tell you’re a new mom is that there are dishes in your sink.” She was totally right-what I never dreamt of having when ‘company’ was over suddenly became our norm. We had an un-run dishwasher and piles of laundry. And it honestly wasn’t so much about other people seeing it than it was about driving me crazy. So the weekly visit of my mom or sister made every difference in the world. They’d just walk in, start a load of laundry, tend to the sink, and even change our sheets. It was that kind of no-questions-asked help that saved my sanity time and again.
Visit with a timeframe.
Every friend I asked had this as their very first point of feedback: the visits are wonderful but they easily become overwhelming. We know, it’s a baby, and everyone wants to snuggle them, watch them sleep, smell them. But, for the mother, even twenty minutes of trying to lift our heads from the postpartum fog can be taxing. So being flexible in both when you visit and for how long is much appreciated. There will be years to come of more socializing and seeing the brand new nugget. For now, just say hi then let them all sleep.
Bring along some ‘unsung hero’ items.
People are crazy generous when it comes to babies. E + I had long lost connections come out of the woodwork, sending us cards or gifts. With each one we truly felt blessed as well as grateful. But some lesser thought of things were given, specifically for Colton + I, that made adjustment or recovery loads easier. First off, any diapers are always welcome. These little hoodlums go through TONS. Next, no one buys newborn clothes because the baby grows out of them so fast: however, they’re sold for a reason because newborns are tiny! Feel free to gift some onesies or pajamas in that size. Also, mom will be in all kinds of unfamiliar discomfort (so much for labor being the only real pain). Breastfeeding ice packs, nipple balm, and snacks for nighttime feeding are more than welcome.
Other moms out there, would you add anything to this list of ways to help a new mother?
photos by Katie Noble