Six Tips for Supporting New Parents
I’m going to start this off with a confession: My memories of the first few months after I became a first-time mom are a little fuzzy. Okay, maybe a lot fuzzy. Sure, I remember it was exciting and amazing, and I was completely overwhelmed with how much I loved our perfectly beautiful son. But I was also perpetually exhausted—like, a level of exhaustion I didn’t even know existed. I was constantly hungry (thanks to breastfeeding!), and I was always worried about all the things I might be doing wrong.
With the arrival of this new tiny person, everything in my life changed—and I don’t mean that in some lofty, poetic way. Like, everything changed. My body was different. My schedule was different. The things I hoped for and worried about were different. Looking back, it was all kind of a dreamy, sleep-deprived blur.
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What new parents need from their friends
Thankfully, my husband and I had friends to help us get through those first few months. Especially since our families live so far away, it was their love, encouragement, support, and giant pans of lasagna that really helped us make that incredible (but kinda scary) transition into parenthood.
Here are a few ways to show a little love to friends and family members who are new parents.
No matter how exciting they are, big life changes can be challenging and emotionally difficult. Reaching out to make sure both parents are adjusting okay (and offering support if they’re not) is a great way to show you care. And remember that it doesn’t have to be all about the baby—sharing updates about your life, the latest gossip, or what’s new on reality tv is just as welcomed. Even when I was tired, I enjoyed hearing from girlfriends who were just checking in. Sometimes it would be the only real adult conversation I would have all day!
Be supportive without judgement
“You’re doing a great job.” is a nice and comforting thing to hear during what is a time of transition and, very often, uncertainty. Although it can be tempting to offer parenting advice to the new parents, try really hard not to unless you’re asked.
Be mindful of schedules
Whether you’re dropping something off or swinging by to say hello, be sure to ask when the best time for the new parents would be. Between feedings, naps, diaper changes, bottle washing, and laundry, days (and nights) can get pretty busy. Oh, and if you do happen to be there in the evening, make sure not to overstay your welcome as bedtime approaches. Baby probably isn’t the only one who’s super sleepy.
Remember: Casseroles are always welcome
Let’s be honest: That’s true for life in general, but it’s especially true when you’re thinking about what to bring to new parents. Visiting is nice but taking along a casserole (or any kind of food that you know they’ll enjoy, including takeout) is even nicer.
If you’re really close to the family and want to be a super star helper, bringing groceries or offering to clean something (thinking about that big pile of dishes that’s surely in the sink) would be awesome. Like I said, I don’t remember much about those first few months, but I definitely remember my friend Linda bringing over a huge pot of her famous mozzarella-stuffed meatballs (and then loading the dishwasher afterwards).
Thank goodness for all you Lindas out there.
Socially-distanced alternative: Send a gift card to a favorite restaurant or delivery service, or drop off a meal on their porch. If you live nearby and are already going to the store, it might be nice to ask if they need help picking up household or baby essentials, so they don’t need to make the trip. Feeling extra ambitious? Organize a meal train so they can focus on baby and not have to think about what they’re going to have for dinner for a while.
Offer to babysit
If you don’t have a lot of time but want to support the new parents, arranging to watch the baby for 30 minutes so they can take a nap can be a huge help.
Do you have more time to give? Babysit for an evening so they can go out for a date night. They’ll probably love the chance to let a close friend or family member hold their little cutie for a bit (after you’ve thoroughly washed your hands, of course).
Socially-distanced alternative: Encourage self-care. Drop off or mail some items just for the new parents, like favorite snacks, bubble bath, a little manicure set, a scented candle or anything else that will make them feel special and cared for.
When in doubt, just ask
If you want to help but aren’t quite sure how, simply asking what is most wanted or needed gives the opportunity to provide specific ideas that you might not have otherwise considered.
Whatever you ultimately choose to do to help support the new parents in your life, know that it will be incredibly appreciated—and unlike many things that happen during that hectic time, your kindness and thoughtfulness will undoubtedly be remembered.
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