I wanted to publish this on Mother’s Day, but I never got around to writing it. #NewMomProblems Anyway, being so far from family and friends this time around, I’ve had a lot of time to think about the things that would have really made my day in the first few weeks of new motherhood. If you have a friend or family member that has recently given birth, you might want to try a thing or two on the list. People are quick to shower the baby with gifts (which is also very much appreciated), but they often forget about the mama. A lot of the things on the list don’t even need to be purchased, but the new mama will remember the simple gestures forever… trust me.
1. Clean her house. If you visit her house and see dirty dishes, laundry piled up, or a carpet in desperate need of vacuuming, do it. The new mama will probably tell you to stop, but deep down inside she really wants it done. She simply doesn’t have the time or energy. Just keep going until she throws something at you. If she really, truly insists that you stop (or if you just hate cleaning), surprise her with a gift certificate for a team of professionals (like Merry Maids or whatever) for a one-time cleaning.
2. Bring a Basket of Snacks. The new mama is likely starving, especially if she is breastfeeding. Bring granola bars, fruit, bottled water… nutritious things that can be eaten quickly. Throw in a chocolate bar or two for good measure.
3. Make her Dinner. Cook it at your house and bring it to hers. If you suck at cooking, get carryout from her favorite restaurant and bring it over. Or, you can simply get the new mama a gift certificate to a restaurant that delivers (this is also a good idea if you live far away from the new mama). Extra points if it’s not fast food or pizza.
4. Snap Pictures. Chances are, the new mama has tons of pictures of her baby and of other people holding her baby, but very few of her and the baby. Offer to take a few pictures. Don’t take them without asking first, and don’t post them on Facebook. Send them to her and let her decide for herself.
5. Make a Grocery Run. Hand the new mama a pen and paper. Ask her to make a list of things she needs from the grocery store or drugstore and run and grab them for her. Don’t just ask her if she needs anything, because she’ll probably just say no to be polite. Handing her a pen and paper will more likely get results.
6. Bring over some Redbox Movies. Every now and then the new mama will get sick of the Property Brothers marathon on HGTV. Switch up her couch nursing routine with a few new movies.
7. Watch the Baby. Offer to watch the baby (and any other kids she has) for a few minutes (or hours?) while she takes a long shower, naps, or gets dolled up for the first time in too long.
8. Speaking of Other Kids, Make them Feel Special Too. If the new mama has other kids, she’s probably worried about what they’re going through as well. Bring a gift for the other kids. Play a game with them or just give them a little praise and attention. (And not just things like, “You’re such a good big sister!” Make them unrelated to the new baby.) Better yet, get them out of the house. Take them to the zoo, the playground, anywhere. Give the new mama a break.
9. Get Her out of the House. If the new mama shows signs of cabin fever, help her get out of the house. Pack her diaper bag. Put the kid(s) in the car seat. Drive her. Sometimes all a new mama needs is a change of scenery.
10. Tell her she’s doing a good job. It sounds so simple, but sometimes it’s all the new mama needs to hear.
Other Considerations when Going to Visit a New Mama:
1. This one is pretty obvious, but always call before you go.
2. Never go over if you’re sick, even if it’s just a sore throat the new mama will never find out about.
3. If you arrive at her house and her babies are sleeping, it might be a good idea to leave and come back later. New mamas often want to savor the few moments of “alone time” they get throughout the day, even if they spend it napping themselves.
4. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer upon your arrival, and do it where the new mom can see you.
5. Don’t ask to hold the baby. Wait for the new mama to offer.
6. Don’t offer advice unless asked for it. Just don’t.
7. If she seems aloof or forgets to say, “Thank you,” let it slide. Sleep deprivation is a nasty thing.