twinfinite wisdom

my children are the reason i get up in the morning… and the reason i drink at night

BRING FOOD…and other advice for visiting a new mom and baby

on May 6, 2013

I was so happy when I read this HuffPost Parents blog by Megan Cottrell explaining how to be the best visitor ever- it’s spot on. Unfortunately, most of the people who need these tips probably don’t read blogs or frequent Facebook, but maybe this will get back to them (fingers crossed). Not only are new moms sleep deprived and overwhelmed, they are also doing something that most of us seem to forget about: recovering from a pretty serious (and sometimes traumatic) physical event. So yes they’re tired- but also, literally, getting back on their feet. So please be easy on them, and follow this author’s advice:

1) Call before you come. Do not, I repeat, do not, stop by unannounced. Also, give your buddy a bit of time to respond to a request to visit. She’s likely not as glued to her cell phone or email as she once was. I often had people send me an email at 2:00 p.m. saying, “Hey, can I come by at 4?” Yes, but I didn’t get your email until 6, so no.

2) Ask what you can bring. Are they out of toilet paper? Milk? Tylenol? See what you can pick up for them from the store.

3) Bring food. If you cook, bring a nice home-cooked meal. Something you can shove in the fridge and can be easily reheated on the stove or in the microwave. Nothing that requires preparation. Also, bring snacks. Nursing moms get real hungry, and it seems like there’s never enough food around. Try to find the line between nutritious and delicious. If in doubt, opt for delicious. Again, look for food that doesn’t require a ton of preparation or do it ahead. It might sound crazy, but with a newborn baby around, a mom doesn’t have time to cut and wash strawberries or peel carrots.

If you can’t cook, bring their favorite takeout or a gift card for restaurant that delivers.

4) And don’t eat it. This may sound obvious, but you don’t know how many people bring food and then end up eating most of it themselves. Not cool.

5) Find something to do. Don’t expect your buddy to entertain you. You are there to be a help, not to be a guest. Empty the dishwasher. Do a load of laundry. Wipe the bathroom sink. Don’t worry about being too forward. Your new mom friend will forgive any awkwardness it creates when she sees that pile of dirty dishes has vanished. Don’t wait to be asked to help, and better yet, don’t ask what needs to be done. Just find something that needs doing and do it.

6) Coo at their baby. Don’t believe what they tell you that all babies are beautiful. It’s simply not the case. Some babies are ugly. But regardless, hold that kid, coo over him and talk about how he’s the sweetest baby in the world. Try not to say anything critical about him or ask too many probing questions about how well he’s sleeping/eating/pooping, etc. To a new mom, it can often feel like you’re criticizing her or questioning her competence.

7) Don’t complain. I totally get it. My buddies are the ones I go to when I’m sick of my job, tired, sick or generally disgruntled to blow off steam. Your new-mom friend will be that person again, but just not today. When you come over, you are doing well. Things are great. You’re definitely not going to talk about how tired and busy you are, because let me tell you, those complaints will fall on deaf (and probably resentful) ears.

8) Don’t stay too long. Seriously. The longest part of your visit should be when you are helping around the house. Do not hold your friend hostage on the couch for hours, talking about your job and your relationship troubles, while she is yawning up a storm or ravenously hungry. You don’t know how many folks see you sitting on your couch in your PJs, holding a sleeping baby, and think, “Oh, they’re just hanging out. I’ll hang out too!” Read the full blog here

Bruce & Sal- 1 wk, Jack- 6 wks, and Ryan almost 2!

First playdate visit from Jack and Ryan D

“Find something to do” is definitely one of my favorites. When a newborn is sleeping, that is usually mom’s time to eat, shower, clean or nap. So ask her what she needs to get done; do not come over expecting apps and a glass of wine waiting for you like it was a year ago. Spend some time catching up, but to earn the #1 visitor award, tell her to go lay down while you take care of the baby for an hour or two. She will never forget that. I remember the first few days thinking that there was no way I could just leave my newborns with some of our friends and families. By week three, I was handing them off like hot potatoes before my guests had a chance to take their jackets off, mumbling something like “taking a shower, BRB!”, while sprinting to my bedroom.

I loved when visitors brought food. Fully prepared and ready to eat or refrigerate, only requiring a simple microwave heat up. Our friend’s mom bought us two huge dinners from her Italian restaurant (Fed’s South shout out!), and a bottle of wine. I still remember our quiet late night dinner for two.

Another one of my favorite gifts? Gift certificates to Peapod, FreshDirect, or any other online grocery store that delivers. Getting out of the house isn’t as easy as it used to be- and momma is hungry.

Most importantly, keep those visits short and sweet …just like that little bundle of joy.

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