Let’s be honest; bringing home a newborn and caring for them is draining. Bringing home a newborn to a home already full of siblings and caring for them is exhausting. Most days, we feel like we’re drowning and it’s all we can do to keep our head above water. We get offers from people to come rock the baby in order to give us a break, but that’s not what we need because while you rock my baby, I’m doing dishes, cleaning the bathroom, throwing on a load of laundry and caring for the other kids. The truth is that we want someone to offer to do those things for us, but we don’t know how to ask.
So, the next time one of your mama friends brings home a newborn, consider some of these ideas as a way to care for her:
Meals: Meal calendars are wonderful and a true gift, but we could also use breakfast, lunch and snacks, especially if we’re breastfeeding. We may try to get up early to have a little time to ourselves for breakfast, but someone usually wakes up with us or we’re so exhausted from night wakings that we sleep through our alarm. We try to prepare our breakfast and lunch the day before, but we’re so exhausted that we fall asleep on the couch. I was so tired the first few months after bringing home our babies that I would shut off my alarms in my sleep. There were days when I would be dealing with my twins, that I would look at the clock and realize it was past lunchtime and I hadn’t eaten. Then, I would realize that my toddler hadn’t eaten either. So bring me breakfast, coffee, or lunch and some adult conversation while the newborn sleeps and the toddler plays or watches TV.
Cleaning: This one was easy when we had one child. While they napped several times during the day, we’d get a few things done. With multiple kids at home though it’s a different story. While the newborn naps, we’re trying to care for the other kids, break up fights, feed them, help them go potty, etc. Most of the time, the older aren’t old enough for chores, so cleaning and other chores get pushed to the side and pile up. So, please offer to clean my bathroom, change my sheets, or do my dishes instead of just holding my baby. You could also pay someone to come deep clean my house. Now that is a GREAT baby shower gift.
Play Date: Take the children! Newborns take up so much of your time that the other kids don’t get as much attention for the first few months and many times end up watching a lot of tv. My daughter was starved for attention and interaction with other kids or people. There were many times when the twins would be down for a nap and I thought “Great, now I can color or play playdoh with Eloise,” but 15 minutes into spending time with her, one of them would wake up and I would have to focus on them again. If you are willing to take the kid(s) to the park, for a ride, for the day, or even come to my house with a few other people so you can watch all my kids, please do.
Groceries: I despise online grocery ordering because I don’t trust them to pick out my produce, plus I have to remember to order it by a certain time to get it the next day and to be honest, I barely get a moment in the day. So the next time you go to the grocery store, why not ask if a mama friend needs you to get her something or several things.
Conversation: Simply talk to us, check-in or come over just for a chat. We are so lonely and starved for adult conversation. Bring me coffee, tea, or a donut and stay for conversation. Your visit could change our whole day.
Many times we are asked for a particular time that’s good for someone to come over, but we can’t give you a certain time. Newborns don’t have a schedule for the first four months because everything is based on hunger and sleep cues. We feed on demand; some days it could be every three hours and others it could be every hour. Some days they might nap really well and other days they won’t. So just come over and text or call to give us a heads up.
About a month after the twins were born, I received a text from a friend saying that she was going to be over at a certain time and could only stay for a short while, but to leave all my dishes in the sink for her to wash. While she was here she did my dishes, changed the sheets on my bed (I couldn’t remember when I had changed them) and our daughter’s, started the laundry and took my daughter outside to jump in puddles. She even cleaned all the baby bottles.