Our first baby was born during my last semester of college. I had to go back to school when she was just ten days old. I was able to bring her to class with me, so it wasn’t all that bad. But that first morning, as I was trying to shower and get ready to go, all she wanted to do was nurse. Finally, in tears I called my mom asking her to come help me get ready to go. She did. And finally I made it out the door to class.
Whether a couple adds to their family by birth or adoption, there’s always an adjustment period, a time when the family needs to find their way to a new normal. During that time, those of us who care about them are often eager to help out. But what are some of the best ways to do it? I’ll share some ideas that I think are helpful, and I hope that you also will comment below and share what others did that you found most helpful when you were adding new children to your family.
1. VISIT GRACIOUSLY. Wait awhile before visiting and keep visits very short. Even if you tell a momma not to clean up the house or get dressed, having company very soon after a new child’s arrival can be stressful and tiring. Bonus points if you stick a load of laundry in and do a few dishes before you leave.
2. FEED THE FAMILY. Bring food in disposable containers. If you’re not sure of your cooking abilities, Pizza Hut gift certificates are awesome. Do check for food allergies and family preferences. Bonus points if you add a stack of paper plates to relieve the family of dish duty for a few days.
3. OFFER TAXI SERVICE. If you have a comfortable relationship with the other children in the family, offer to run them to sports practices, pick them up after school, or take them to the park for an hour or two. Bonus points if you ask the new parents what they need at the grocery store while you’re coming to their house anyway.
4. ENCOURAGE HER TO COCOON. As much as you love visiting with your new-momma friend, she may not have the energy to be out and about visiting and running errands for awhile. Especially in the case of a difficult delivery, or a newly adopted baby, it will probably benefit everyone to stick really close to home for awhile. Later will be soon enough to rejoin the larger world and be social again. Be the kind of friend who encourages and respects that time of quiet.
What did friends and family do that most helped after you added to your family?