guest post: jora from domestic reflections.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

{Hopefully this is what Bridget & Parker are doing at this very moment}

Hi!  I'm Jora from Domestic Reflections, helping new mom Bridget out while she is busy with little Parker.  (And yes, I call her a "new mom" even though she has four (!) other (!) kids (!) because a new baby equals new mom....in my book anyway.)  I have three little ones (C-Man is almost 6, JuJu is 3 and a half, and Little E is 21 months), so although I am nowhere near having this motherhood thing nailed down (to the contrary!), I do have a just a little experience in the subject matter.  

Something I hear over and over again from new moms is the frustration over wanting to see friends and family (and friends and family seeing the new baby) and needing sleep and quiet time to bond with their beautiful new baby.  It seems to me that everyone has the purest and best of intentions when there is a new little life in the world, but it's a little difficult to know what to do when you are the outsider.  Plus, it is hard for a lot of women to ask for help, and let me tell you, after you give birth to another human being (whether you have other kids or not), you WILL need the help.

Here's where I come in.  I have come up with a list of things to do when someone you know has a baby.  To wit:

1.  Do not, I repeat, do not say, "Let me know if there's anything I can do to help!"  Sure, I have said it myself, but it really doesn't help (even though that is your intention).  Text, email or call (if you must) and say: "I am dropping off a casserole" or "I'd like to come over sometime on Friday and help fold laundry" or "Just an FYI, I am going to Target and I can pick up diapers if you need any."  Do not make the new mom come up with tasks and then make her ask you to help.  Just a (not so subtle) hint.

2.  Bring food.  Lots of food.  High calorie food.  She is most likely nursing, and even if she isn't, she just gave birth to another human being and I don't think I have ever been hungrier in my life than just after I gave birth to my babies.  I think after C-Man was born, I turned to the nearest person and asked, "Is In-n-Out still open?"  True story.  In all seriousness, though, food is probably the most helpful thing to bring. The baby probably doesn't need any more onesies.  Just sayin'.  And if you aren't a cook, no worries, just pick something up!  Bagels, cream cheese and orange juice.  A pizza and a bottle of wine.  Thai food (watch the spicy foods though....).  One of my favorite "gifts" was a huge tray of goodies from the deli at Whole Foods (salame, cheeses, roasted vegetables, pesto, olives, bread)....none of it was cooked by my friend, but it was perfectly perfect and just what I needed.

3.  Offer to run errands.  I always appreciated the "I'm on my way to Costco, text me what you need" messages.  Then again, I hate Costco, so anytime someone offers to go there for me, I take them up on it (which reminds me, anyone going to Costco this week?).  I think texting is best for this type of offer.  If the new mom is sleeping or just crying over a surge in hormones, she doesn't feel compelled to talk (it's nothing personal, just an FYI).

4.  Offer to come over and help with household chores.  As I mentioned before, giving a semi-specific time is nice.  "I am free all day on Friday and I'd like to come help with laundry" or "...start dinner for you" or "...hold the baby so you can shower."  Just think about what might be hard to get to as a new mom and what might be nagging her (for me, it is ALWAYS the laundry).  She will probably take you up on it.  And then, when you are there, remember it is to help and not necessarily to chat.  She will probably give you an indication what she is up for (as in "NEED SLEEP NOW" or "can I please re-live every last detail of the birth with you?").  Just follow her cues.

5.  Remember it is not just about the baby.  Of course, it is all about the baby.  No one feels that more than the mom.  But giving her some kudos is nice too.  She might, strike that, she WILL feel frumpy and worn out and like the circles under her eyes are taking over her face, and any compliment/reassurance/reminder regarding the awesomeness that she is (she just birthed another human, for pete's sake!) would be fantastic right about now.  Maybe bring her a little bouquet of her favorite flowers or a new pair of pretty pajamas or a fancy lip gloss.  All of this will get you very, very far down the road to helping your friend out.

6.  Don't overstay your welcome.  There are lots of visitors with a new baby and much sleep that needs to be made up, so please respect that baby and mom (and probably the rest of the family) need their rest.  There will be plenty of time to hold that baby, I promise!

7.  Offer to take the other kids on an outing.  They are probably bored out of their gourds, and mom is probably feeling guilty about spending all of this time with the baby, so spending time with the older ones and doing something a little special with them is good all the way around.  Take them to the park, frozen yogurt, the book store, even over to your house to bake cookies.  The change of scenery will be good for them.  Also, don't forget little gifts for the other kids.  Nothing big, but it can be hard to see the baby get gift after gift after.....  I admit I didn't always think about that before I had kids, but now that I do, I always bring a little something for the new big brother or sister.

OK, so those are my ideas.  If you have any, please share in the comments.  Everyone has their own stories about what really helped (or didn't).  And congratulations, Bridget!!  Now please, GIVE US THE BIRTH STORY!  ;-)  

19 comments:

  1. This is a fabulous post! I think in a lot of situations, not just new baby, we tend to say "let me know if there is anything I can do." I really like the idea of getting more specific. Recently, my mother-in-law died and if I heard "LMKITIAICD" once I heard it 100 times. In that moment I could think of absolutely nothing. In retrospect, having someone check on our dogs while we had to be out of the house for hours would have been a great thing or having someone bring over breakfast would have been lovely.

    Thanks for making me think more about how to really be there for someone!

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  2. Very helpful tips for the non-moms who are visiting all their friends with new babies but have no idea how to really help. Thank you!!!!

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  3. These are all SO FAB. I really liked #5 because I felt a bit forgotten to be honest. Haha. Some new lip gloss to make me feel pretty again and like people appreciated the woman who pushed this amazing baby out would have been amazing. lol.

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  4. These are really awesome.. Im tempted to post it on my facebook so that my friends know some etiquette before I give birth haha.

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  5. This is great! And thanks for addressing the whole "let me know if you need help" thing. I always felt like kind of a brat being annoyed by that comment. But really, the last thing I have time for is to call people and arrange things myself, let alone it being sort of awkward too. I think the people who genuinely want to help just text me that they're coming over, or drop something off on the door step.

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  6. Thanks for this awesome post! I don't have children yet, but two dear friends are having babies in the next few weeks--one is her third, the other is her first. This will help me help them.

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  7. My tip: bring pie. Pie is key. You see, it's a dessert, it's a breakfast food, it's a snack. It's good cold, warm, kids like it, adults like it. It's the great equalizer, pie is. So bring pie. I prefer chocolate fudge, key lime, or cherry.

    And seriously, Bridget, the baby story suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.

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  8. these are great tips, jora! thank you!!! i don't have kids yet, but most of my friends do or are expecting, so i'm never really sure how to help them. i'm probably most guilty of doing #1, but now thanks to you, i know a better way to approach the offer to help!!

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  9. Jora- If you wrote a book on life tips, I'd be the first one to buy it.

    One of my favorite post-baby gifts (with my first) was a friend and her husband bringing dinner over to our house.

    And when I had my second child, we were literally in the middle of moving. We were still living in our old house, but had just taken our bedroom apart, and were getting ready to transfer it to the new house. We had no furniture in our house- since it was all being moved. My sil walked in and saw me sitting on a camping chair(!) with my baby. She immediately drove to the home and set up my bed. My husband was working really hard trying to move everything over, but needed help!

    ... Case in point. This list speaks volumes to what new mothers really need. Thank you for the great ideas too :).

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  10. Yesyesyes, amazing tips! You nailed it! I especially like the "let me tell you every detail of the birth story" cue--I was that mom, I think. :p Definitely bring something special for mom, especially if it's not her first baby. I found that I was forgotten about more with my second since I was more confident as a mother and therefore wasn't such a mess and didn't seem to need special attention. I guess I didn't NEED it--but I kinda missed it and it surely would've been nice! ;)

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  11. Excellent post!! All of your ideas could apply to any kind of life change happening in a family as well (death, illness, surgery)...

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  12. Spot on. This is exactly what I was thinking when my daughter was born almost 14 months ago (wait, wasn't I just a "new" mother?!). I was hungry nonstop and all I wanted people to bring was FOOD. Yet almost no one knows or thinks about this. From that experience, when my best friend who lives across the country, had twins I sent her a care package from whole foods -- they delivered. I think it was my best gift to date.

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  13. Great list! I wanna post this onto my blog when I'm pregnant in the future! :-)

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  14. love this list. it's so helpful!

    http://breatheandhush.blogspot.com/

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  16. Truly helpful. I think a lot of us simply offer help and leave it at that for fear of imposing, but coming from a new mom (of twins) myself, your tips are awesome.

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  17. What a wonderful post! I haven't had a baby yet and am always wondering what the right thing to do is. I will definitely take your advice into consideration when my friend has her baby boy in 3 weeks. Thanks!

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  18. wonderful post! each point is SO TRUE!! my son is two months and during the first 4 weeks of his life, i felt i was spread so thin! everyone everyone EVERYONE says: "let me know if you need anything." i needed LOTS of somethings, to be honest. but i made do. i cherished as much cuddle & holding time as i could in between errands, chasing our other little guy, cleaning, cooking, taking care of my firefighter... i wish somehow someway everyone could read this and heed your advice. thanks so much! i'll be linking this list from a post soon and i'll have to check out your blog!
    much love,
    vanessa

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