Have you ever wondered how you can help new parents? When family or friends have a baby, what can you do to make life a little easier?
Those of us who have experienced the shock of becoming parents know how difficult that transition can be.
Yes, there’s a beautiful new baby to look after. But that doesn’t mean those first few weeks of parenthood are going to be smooth sailing.
New parents have to juggle a lot of balls on very little sleep.
They’re recovering from the birth (even a textbook birth can take it out of you) and trying to get to grips with breastfeeding. Then they have to deal with changing hormones and sleepless nights. And all while they’re learning how to be parents. And that’s no easy job.
In the first days and weeks, the demands of parenthood leave many new parents feeling quite overwhelmed.
It isn’t easy to ask for help. Most parents want to show the world they’re coping, even when they secretly feel they aren’t.
Here’s How You Can Help New Parents
You might want to help out, but offers like ‘Let me know if you need anything’ are likely to fall on deaf ears.
In the early days with a newborn, just going through the motions of daily life is difficult enough. Not many people have the energy or the mental space to work out what help they might need. Asking for help is just another task they don’t have time to complete.
What new parents really need is people who can help without needing direction.
That doesn’t mean people who will turn up, unannounced, for cuddles with the baby. It means people who genuinely want to make things easier and free up time for the new parents to bond with their baby.
If you want suggestions about how you can help new parents, try one of the following:
#1: Think Of Them When You’re Shopping
If you’re at the supermarket buying essentials, add a few things for the new parents. Things like toilet paper, milk, bread and fresh fruit.
If you know what their favourite foods are, include a couple of those as well.
Send a quick message to alert them you’re about to pop in with some food essentials. Then unload the shopping for them, make them a cup of tea and then let yourself out.
Don’t accept their offer of a cuddle with the baby, or a sit down; just drop off the things and be on your way. They will remember your selfless act of kindness and you’ll be sure of an invitation to cuddle the baby as soon as they’re ready to open their doors to the public.
If you don’t want to interrupt them at all, leave the shopping by the front door with a note saying who it’s from. But be sure to let them know it’s there.
#2: Make A Sign For The Front Door
Make a sign explaining there’s a new baby in the house. Ask uninvited visitors to call before visiting, to give the family some undisturbed time together. Request any delivery people to knock quietly, in case the baby is asleep. Ask cold calling salespeople to skip their house altogether.
Privacy is something brand new families really value. Especially new mamas who might be learning how to breastfeed and feeling pretty vulnerable after the birth.
#3: Feed Them
Life with a new baby can be exhausting. If you want to win a place in the hearts of new parents, nourish their stomachs and their souls.
Many new parents struggle to find the time and energy to cook regular, healthy, balanced meals. You would be doing them a great favour if you helped out in this department.
If you’re a decent cook, throw together a lasagne, casserole or another dish that can be easily reheated later. If you prefer, put together a salad filled with delicious fresh ingredients.
Drop the food off, but don’t go over the doorstep! Leave the family in peace to enjoy your cooking.
If you’re not much of a chef, send them some vouchers for a food delivery service. That way they can eat even on nights when nobody has the energy to cook.
#4: Make Yourself Available
New parents often find it hard to plan ahead. They don’t know how exhausted and emotional they’re likely to feel from one day to the next. That unpredictability can put them off making plans in advance. There’s nothing worse than waking up feeling exhausted and realising you’ve got a day of entertaining ahead of you.
Make yourself available to them. Tell them you are happy to watch the baby while they take the time they need to shower, nap or just have some time to themselves. Tell them when you can be available to them and let them know they can call you anytime for help.
#5: Make Yourself Useful
If you are invited to go round to meet the baby, make yourself a low needs visitor. Brew the tea yourself, take food with you – some to share and some to leave behind. Make sure they don’t have to get up or do anything extra because of your visit. Tidy up after yourself.
If they look tired, send them off to bed for a nap. But don’t tell them they look tired – nobody wants to hear that.
Offer to watch the baby while the new mama goes for a relaxing bath. Fold the laundry, tidy the kitchen, put out the recycling for them, empty the kitchen bin and vacuum the stairs.
#6: Help With The Rest Of The Family
If they have older kids, your help could be invaluable. Take the older children out for a treat. It could be a trip to the park, a matinee at the local cinema or a day out at a museum. It doesn’t really matter what you do.
What matters is the kids get all of your attention and have a great day while their parents enjoy some bonding time with the new baby. Oh, and if you do take them out, don’t fill them up with sweet treats and send them back home just in time for the post-sugar crash.
Maybe they have a dog. You could offer to take it out for a long walk. Chances are the furry friend has been making do with shorter walks since the baby’s arrival so a special outing would probably be much appreciated.
#7: Be Positive
New mamas are vulnerable. They have recently given birth, they are tired and they are probably finding parenthood at least a little tough. You could make a huge difference to a new mama’s mood just by being positive.
Think carefully about your words before they leave your mouth. Focus on saying only positive, helpful and encouraging things. Don’t say anything that could be misconstrued as judgemental or unsupportive.
Remember, new mamas might be feeling more sensitive than usual. Your words could have an unintentional negative impact on how she feels. Tell her she’s a great mama, coo over her perfect baby, and remind her she’s doing a great job.
It’s not always easy to work out what new parents really need. You might worry about overstepping the mark, getting in the way, or not really helping at all.
New parents are grateful for help but might not always be able to ask for it. They probably don’t want an influx of visitors or a houseful of helpers.
But if you can offer real help, without encroaching on their bonding time, then they will be forever grateful.