I’ll never forget when I became a new mother. I had never experienced anything like it. I was filled with absolute joy and bliss, but also completely overwhelmed. Sure, there were plenty of books and resources offering help for new parents, but the reality is, it’s on-the-job training. And nothing is worse than that feeling of total exhaustion and uncertainty when it’s 2:00 am and you’re trying to get a crying infant back to sleep. As a new mom, I needed help and advice, but I didn’t reach out and ask for it because I was too proud, and I didn’t want anyone to think I was an incompetent parent.
My mother, God bless her, was always available to help me without being intrusive. But I certainly did get more than my fair share of advice from well-meaning friends and family, and honestly I felt like I was being lectured on how to take care of my baby. So, with the great benefit of hindsight, I have put together this blog of some of the best lessons I learned on my wonderful journey of being a mother. This first post is dedicated to anyone, family, friend, neighbor, who wants to offer help for new parents in a meaningful way.
How to help new parents
There are plenty of things you can do to help a new parent that has nothing to do with parenting. For example, you could run small errands like going to the grocery store or the post office. You could help out by doing a load of laundry, or making the beds. This is extremely valuable because if will give the new mom and dad some extra time with their precious baby. I guarantee if you offer up something like this to the new parents, they will happily accept your help.
Bring them dinner. I remember when my baby was brand new, I had no time to eat, let alone cook! So if you want to help out, make a covered dish for the new mom and dad to enjoy. It could be as simple as a pizza, or a picnic lunch. This gesture will be greatly appreciated.
Here’s a great help for new parents tip that meant so much to me. My oldest child was 28 months old when I had my second baby. My mother would come over and watch the older child in the mornings so I could go back to sleep for a few hours while my infant was taking her morning nap. My mom was a godsend to me. So, if there are older siblings in the home, figure out a way to take them off the hands of the new mother. Take them to the library, or to the park for a couple of hours. This will allow the new parents to focus on the new baby.
OK, this one is counter intuitive, since I am actively providing advice, but try not to inundate the new parents with all of your sage new parent help and advice. Of course you know from experience, and your intentions are good. Just be judicious in dispensing said advice. A few tips offered up now and then is perfectly fine, but stay away from telling parents who to raise their baby. As I mentioned above, learning to be a parent is OJT that both children and parents survive. We are all living proof of that. So let parents learn to be parents. It will all be fine.
Just like my own mom did for me, the best help for new parents you can provide is to just be there if they need you. That’s the number one way you can provide assistance without intruding. Simply make sure they know they can count on you if they need a helping hand because you have extended an open invitation. And be patient. It may take them a while to take you up on your offer because they are pretty busy getting used to a totally changed way of life. So just wait a bit. The child will be around for a long time, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to help the new parents.