06 May So Your Friend Had a Baby – Here’s How you can Actually Help
“Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.”
I cannot begin to tell you how often I heard those words from friends and family, especially during those first few months of motherhood.
It did not take me long to realize that most people just say that to be polite. They rarely really mean it, even if they think that they do. In the end, after one or two disappointments, I stopped taking people up on that offer altogether.
If you are friends or family with a new parent, and you truly want to help, making such a vague offer won’t communicate your intentions. The new parents already probably feel like it will be too much to ask, or perhaps they are simply just too embarrassed to make any specific requests.
So how can you help? Well, the only thing you can do is take matters into your own hands. New moms and dads will likely either be too tired to think of anything or too polite to ask for something outright, so take that pressure away from them. A great way to do this is by making a list of stuff you can do, then let them pick one or two things for you from the list.
Can’t think of anything? Well, here is a great list of things friends and family can do to help new parents:
1. Help them out with house chores
New parents have very little time to do house chores. Make yourself the saint who takes this responsibility off their hands by doing the chores for them. Next time you visit, offer to do one or two things around the house before you leave. You can wash the dishes, do the laundry, clean out the fridge, dust a few surfaces, take out the garbage, walk the dog, or just hold the baby while mommy takes a nap.
2. Feed them real food
New parents need fresh, healthy, home-cooked meals. However, they may not always be in a position to make them themselves. This is where you come in. Find out what they would like or let them pick something from a menu. Try to make the food you bring as easy to eat as possible because it is probably going to be eaten with one hand. And don’t forget the fruit salad!
3. Run errands for them
Everyone knows that new parents are probably going to be stuck in the house for a few months. Moving around with a baby is hard, and getting things done with them is even harder. So, call, text or email them and ask if there is anything you can pick up from the store or pharmacy. Try to help them do something that they can’t do anymore now that baby is around.
4. Clean their house for them
When a baby is brought home, everything grinds to a halt. And houses get messy really fast because of that. You can help out by hiring a cleaning service and arranging for their house to get cleaned at a convenient time.
5. Help them get out more
New parents can get cooped up indoors for weeks on end. They need some human interaction, and they desperately need to get out. Make this wish a reality for them by offering to take care of the baby for a while so mommy and daddy can take a walk around the block or go out for lunch or even go to the spa. Help them reconnect with the world once more.
Now that you know what to do when you visit, here are a few pro tips that will help you figure out how to visit. Although some of these sound obvious, from my experience, they still need to be said:
• Never “drop by” unexpectedly. Always ask before you visit.
• It is common etiquette to give new parents about 4 to 6 weeks to get used to their new family. So, wait a few weeks then make that appointment.
• Never visit empty-handed. Always bring something with you when you visit. When in doubt, diapers, wipes, and food are great, go-to, last-minute gifts.
• Let them take the lead in conversations. Do they want to talk about their little one? Do they want to have a normal human conversation that doesn’t revolve around babies? Take the cues from them and follow their lead. Talk about whatever they want to.
• Capture the moment. They are probably too overwhelmed to take pictures themselves, so do it for them.
• Keep your visits short, helpful, and fun.
With this list, you can finally rest easy knowing that you have the secret weapon that will help you become that one friend or relative whose visits are always anticipated.