Way back in 2011, we published this post about the dos and don’ts of visiting friends after they have a baby and recently realized how GOLD the comments were. Who knows new parent strategies better than the community who reads them? So I went in to the comments and culled some of the best additional advice for visiting new parents and being actually helpful while they’re over-tired and over-burdened.
Here’s advice straight from our readers about what you should actually do when visiting new parents…
Helping with small tasks
I actually made a list before Tavi was born: “Things we might need help with.” I posted it on the fridge for visitors who asked if they could help. It was like … walk the dog, take out the trash, load the dishwasher. Little stuff I knew I’d forget in the moment if someone asked. – Ariel
In Purple Leaves, Red Cherries we suggested making a Helping Box and putting it by the front door with some help notes inside. There were some hold-the-baby help tips though, for example: Make me a cup of tea and then hold the baby while I drink it! – Tania
Helping with meals
A great idea is to do a “food stork” Google Doc group for new parents. Everyone who wants to make a meal and drop it off to new baby gives their email at the baby shower. When the baby is born, a friend (who collected those emails) sends the announcement that baby has now come and new parents would like food left starting whichever day until whatever day.
Food drop off times are scheduled for 30-minute periods. You bring food, in containers you leave or get the next person to pick up for you, do the dishes from the previous night, and get the hell out of there. Everyone gets a glimpse of the baby, new mom and dad get free food, and they can pace the visits as they please. No phone calls beforehand, no awkward “too long” visits as the time has already been blocked off. Worked great for my friends and then everyone felt like the contributed without burdening the new parents. – Vivi
There is also Meal Baby and Take Them A Meal. A little more user-friendly than a Google Doc for some. 🙂 Plus this way the parent(s) can specify which days they want meals and has an option for people to purchase gift certificates for take-out which allows far away friends and family to get involved. – BreAnna
Helping to clean
Something I loved is that when my husband’s family found out I was being induced, they came over while we were at the hospital all day and cleaned our house from top to bottom.
Another thing to realize is that some things are just physically impossible or even scary within the first week or two. My laundry room is in the basement and after an episiotomy and major bleeding, I was petrified to even try the stairs the first couple days (and I was told by the midwife to avoid them).
One more thing I think is important is not to comment afterwards if anything you thought was “strange” happened while you were visiting. My mom made a few comments that I had made my dad uncomfortable breastfeeding in front of him when they visited two days after he was born. I was exhausted, out of my mind, and had no clue what I was doing (it’s hard to get them to latch at all at that point, much less when hiding under a blanket) — modesty didn’t even occur to me. If something bothered you, wait until they do it again when they are awake/sane/normal again to comment. – Darlyngirl
As a wedding gift, my mom hired one of her cousins to clean our house for like six months (best gift ever!). I already plan to hire her back for at least six weeks before and after the birth. That way, when I am seriously disturbed by friends’ and family members’ attempts to scrub our bathroom, I have a legit excuse to ask them to stop.
It’s not cheap, but it’s not that expensive either. For me, it will totally be worth it, especially considering the state of my home after two months of nausea. – KC