10 Do's for Visiting New Parents
by Elise Bowerman
The smell of a new baby is unlike anything else in the world! It's addicting! So, of course we get anxious to visit as soon as we can, but - and it's a big BUT - us visitors must put our personal wants aside to be respectful of new baby, parents and siblings. After all, we'd like to be invited back.
As parents settle into their new roles of caring for baby, themselves, healing physically and mentally from the birthing process, and maybe even providing for other children or family members, not to mention worrying about work, bills, food, and everything else our face-paced society pressures us with - we are reminded how stressful this time in a growing family's life can be.
As family members or friends our main focus is offering and providing support this family needs. By letting go of what we may like, or what would benefit us if we were in their shoes we will actually give this family a boost in self-esteem, true healing from the birth and the reassurance that it does take a village to raise a family.
Recently, I asked my moms (500+ wise women who've practiced yoga with me) what would be most helpful and supportive from visitors when you have a new baby in the home. Here's their answers:
- Don't get squeemish. Projecting your thoughts and feelings onto someone else is childish. If you don't understand women are powerful creatures who can often keep humans alive through breastmilk - quickly say 'hi' and 'bye.' Newborns need nourishment every one to three hours. It's disrespectful to hide a breastfeeding mother. So, you can go instead. <<< #1 is from me. The ladies are much too polite to say like it is.
- Organize a meal plan. Before baby's big debut create a one-year from the estimated due date meal plan. Mom or dad will need to fill out the calendar dates, food preferences, and drop-off details. Once it's basically done, email and post on social media to all the new parents' friends and family members to get them on board. Sign Up Genius or Meal Train are great resources.
- Text or call in advance to visit. Plans change minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour as everyone's energies are operating at different speeds with a newborn. What sounded like a solid plan yesterday, may not be feasible today. Understand a visit may need to be rescheduled.
- Stop by beyond month one. Visit the whole first year! It's a doozy. Parents of a new baby need tons of support.
- Keep the visit short. New parents desire company, along with privacy. Tough to have both at the same time. Pop in and out on different days. They are not "hosting." You are there to assist.
- Arrive bearing food or gifts - or both! Nutritious meals are best for a mother healing from birth and/or breastfeeding; however, she'll likely gladly accept whatever food or beverage comes along her path... including coffee. Thoughtful gifts are usually a hit, too! If the family has other children gifting them a new craft, game or toy will mean so much as they take on the 'big sibling' role.
- Always, make sure mom has a water next to her at all times. 24/7.
- Check for a To-Do list. Parents are typically really great at creating lists. Check the fridge, kitchen or office for a 'Honey Do' list. Once found complete a task and cross it off. High five!
- No list? Ask first if you can... Feed a pet. Hold baby while mom eats, naps, takes a shower, gets dressed, takes a walk around the block. Vacuum. Swiffer the floors. Wash dishes. Put away clean dishes.Wipe down kitchen countertops. Play with other children. Do a load of laundry. Fold laundry. Make a bed. Organize the fridge or pantry. Prepare food for the next meal or next day.
- Listen. Ask mom (and dad) how they are feeling. Listen. This is an overwhelming time. Emotions are everywhere. Listen. Let them vent. You may appreciate, or not, what you hear. Their thoughts and feelings are real. Love on them! Share examples of how caring and loving parents they are. How their feelings are true and it is hard being a parent, in the first year especially. And this phase of life is temporary. The days are long, the years are short.
- If they're singing the same song at each visit... ask them to brainstorm what may help relieve some stress. You are to help them with this. Create a fresh plan for the upcoming weeks and re-evaluate if any changes are helpful or not.Then brainstorm again.
- Share. New parents are still curious about what's going on in your life! They're kinda stuck at home, so tell them the latest happenings when they ask.
- Entertain older siblings. This has been whispered already, but seriously - play a game with them, distract them so they leave their parents alone. Better yet, take them out for a meal, putt-putt or a walk. You wanna give these parents the greatest gift?! Offer to take the older children over-night. The.Best.Gift.Ever.
- Wash hands. The minute you walk in, wash your hands. It's the easiest way to keep yourself and this growing family healthy.