Friday, May 1, 2015

How to Help a New Mom (or a Mom-to-Be)

James comes home!
The title of this really is "The Nicest Things Folks Have Done for Me Pre- and Post- Partum) but I'm thinking that any number of people could benefit from these ideas.  I sure did :)

I've found that people in general are very eager to help pregnant women and women with newborns.  Even strangers.  But friends and family have been the most generous to me; the gifts and service they offered me right around that nine-month mark blessed me more than I can say.  

Perhaps you're hoping to bless a friend or sister as she prepares to meet her baby, or as she's just brought her new little one home.  Maybe some of these wonderful ideas will inspire you!  (they're wonderful not because I thought of them, but because others did!)  

Things You Can Do for a Mom Who's Expecting
(or -- The Nicest Things Folks Have Done for Me When I Was Expecting)

Offer to watch her older children while she packs her hospital bag.  My dad has done this for me during my last two pregnancies (I think...)  It made getting ready for the hospital so much more relaxing.  I could waddle around the house, gathering what I needed, and if the kids needed anything, there was another adult available to attend to them.  I think that after my bag was packed, I may have even laid down in my quiet bedroom for a few minutes as well.  Hope that was ok, Dad ;)

Offer to watch her older children so she can run last-minute errands unencumbered.  (Unencumbered by children, that is.  That large-o belly will still be pretty encumbering, but the freedom of running errands alone may help her overlook it :) )   I was planning to take my girls to Target one morning because I needed to refresh my supply of nursing tank tops before the baby arrived.  A friend offered to watch the girls for me, and it made all the difference in the world.  I didn't realize how badly I needed that time to walk through Target in peace and quiet.  I was able to try on nursing tank tops and to check things off my mental pre-baby checklist.  I know that if I had the kids with me, it would have been a harried visit to the lingerie department that would have ended in me buying nursing tops in three different sizes... to be tried on at home... and my husband would have had the job of returning the rejects...  Anyway, I always remember those last errands out alone as really precious moments.  I think I even stopped to grab a caramel coffee something-or-other.  (perhaps you have identified the habit I of taking advantage to generous people who are stuck with caring for my children...)  Having my friend watch my children was a real blessing.  

Bring her a frozen meal for her family while she's in the hospital.  I've had many lovely dinners brought to our home after I came home with the baby, but one of the nicest gestures I recall was a friend who brought a meal for Russ and the kids while I was gone.  It was wonderful to know that they, and my parents who help watch the kids a lot during my hospital stays, had something healthy and tasty and fuss-free to eat one night.  It was a thoughtful gift that meant a lot to me and to my family.  

Things You Can Do for a Mom With a New Baby
(or -- The Nicest Things Folks Have Done for Me When I Had a New Baby)

Bring her a meal.  No explanation necessary.

Don't stop at a meal.  Bring her a bottle of wine and dessert too :)

Offer to do her family's grocery shopping for her.  This was one of the most generous and thoughtful gifts I've received after having a baby.  It was the best.  I could hardly believe it when the ladies in my prayer group told me they were going to do this for me for a few weeks.  It was so tremendously helpful to have groceries - exactly what I needed, since I wrote the list - delivered to my kitchen.  If they hadn't gifted me this way, I would have had to send Russ with the list, and any extra time he had to spend out of the house except for work, was like torture.  He was able to be home with me, the kids, and the baby, and we were still able to get our fresh food restocked.  Thank you again, dear friends - you know who you are - for taking care of us in this way after James was born.  It really meant a lot to me.

Stopping over to drop the off the meal or groceries?  Offer to get the dirty dishes out of the sink or to fold the laundry.  When these offers were made to me, I thought about saying "no thanks" but I eventually accepted the help.  Having someone else help me cold and sort clean laundry and wash the dishes in my sink meant two chores go done that otherwise wouldn't have.  That was a blessing!  

Send or hand-deliver an activity for her older children.  Oh my goodness!  You can imagine how wonderful it was when we received a package in the mail from a long-time family friend, and it was filled with activities for the new baby's sibling!  The kids felt special because they received some mail, and I was SO grateful because the gifts she sent were intended (she's a genius!) to keep the bigger ones occupied for a while so that mama and baby could have some uninterrupted time <3  (If you're reading this, thank you again.  Your gifts to the kids really meant so much to me!)  To give you an idea, here are some of the things the kids received...

Dover Little Sticker Books 
Dover Little Activity Books 
My House Playspace (punch out paper doll house and play figures) 
Boys Coloring / Sticker Pad Bundle ...

Also consider options like games, puzzles, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, color by number, and maybe craft kits for older kids (as long as they, under no circumstances, include glitter ;) )

If you're heading out to run errands, see if there's anything she needs while you're out.  It may be a small thing that can make a big difference for her and her family.  While I've been home bound with a newborn, it's was so helpful to me to have someone run to the post office, pick up the books I ordered at the library, and drop off a coat to be dry cleaned.  

*   *   *   *   *   *

So those are my great ideas.  I think they have the potential to be very helpful to other lovely moms out there since they were so helpful to me.  What would you add to the list? 

I am so immensely grateful to have such generous family and friends.  I can only hope that soon I'll be able to refer back to my own list for inspiration when the next of my sisters or friends are expecting!   

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