Thursday, January 17, 2013

What New Parents Need

It's taken me awhile, and a minor feeding/weight gain crisis to start openly accepting help from friends and family.  My birth went so well, and I felt so great afterwards that I figured the hard part was over.  All I had to do now was snuggle my little bundle, take her for walks to see outside, and relax, right?  And, I could still take care of the laundry and groceries and keep the house fairly tidy, of course.

Wrong!  It turns out, as I should have known all along, that birth was the easy part!  I never could have imagined how much responsibility it would be to have a baby -- it's obvious, and I knew it would be a lot of responsibility.  But when it suddenly dawned on me that this little person depended on me for EVERYthing, it was a bit of an eye opener.  Without me she can't eat, go to the bathroom (oh, she can poo and pee, but then she'd just be lying in it forever), entertain herself, or even fall asleep, really.

So, not surprisingly, parents of newborns find remarkably few hours in the day to take care of themselves and the house around them.  This is where friends and family can come in.  Recently, I saw this blog post by a well respected midwife, and it inspired me to think of what we need/needed after the birth.  I believe she's referring to right after birthing, but I think this list can apply weeks or even a few months afterwards, especially if, like we did, a family doesn't take too many visitors in the first weeks.

Below is my own, personal version of the list...a little late in coming.  I think every new parent, in that first blissful week after birth when you still think you have time, should make their own, family-specific Needs/Wants list for friends and family who want to help out.  The list can obviously be modified as new needs/wants come up.

Ebba's Family List

  • Come over and tidy up a bit.  Start with the obvious things that don't beg the question "where should I put this?"  That question is sometimes more stressful than you can imagine and often gains the response, "Hang on, I'll do it myself in just a sec."  Things like putting the shoes on the shoe rack and putting all of Ebba's toys in one place (like in her bassinet) are good places to start.  Or, if you notice a bag of groceries out, just unpacking that can help.
  • After that's done, you can ask if there's laundry to be folded or diapers to wash.  We have instructions for diaper washing, so it's super easy!  (don't worry, you don't have to touch any poo at all.)
  • Then you could probably ask some of those "where does this go?" questions.  If we say "I don't know" that probably means it doesn't go anywhere yet and it'll just have to stay where it is.
  • Come over, bring a meal, heat it up, and leave unless we ask you to stay.
  • Text us for a grocery list in the morning and bring us groceries for lunch/dinner.  We might even let you stay awhile and hold the baby. :)
  • Ask Daddy (or whoever isn't holding a baby at that time) to show you how to dry and assemble the breast pump.  Then, next time, dry and assemble the breast pump on your own. ;)
  • Bring over a trashy magazine or easy, cheesy novel for mum to read while pumping
  • Take out the trash
  • Empty the dishwasher
  • Take out the recycling
  • Bring flowers (I didn't think this would make my day so much until my sister in law did it.  Totally brightened the house, and my mood!!  Thanks, Jen!)
The last main thing is, stick around for 2 hours, 3 tops.  Having guests is tiring, even when they're doing everything! :)

Thanks to all the friends who have already come by and helped out, or offered to come by and help out when I said "no."  :)  You are all awesome!