Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Things to do for new parents

new parents, new mum, new mom, new dad

I cant help but think that bringing home a new baby would have been easier in a time when we lived in smaller villages with bigger families. These days we can keep in touch with our 'community' and families through Facebook, but Facebook cant make you a cup of tea, fold your laundry or hold the baby while you have a shower.

We're used to these modern times I think - most of us wouldn't want to give that up to have our whole extended family move in with us - but at times like when new parents bring home their baby, we shouldn't neglect to recreate a bit of that village feel.

Parents don't always know what to ask for even if you offer, and don't want to feel like a burden, so if you know any new or soon-to-be parents here are a few suggestions of practical and specific offers of help you can make.

(Mainly aimed at first time parents, but many still apply no matter how many times they've done it before.)

For both:
- Clean the house before they get home from hospital. A freshly made bed or freshly scrubbed bathroom will feel like luxury.

- Stock the fridge and pantry with meals and/or easy to use groceries.

- Bring food whenever you visit - either stuff for the pantry, or freezable meals. Or just something as simple as a plate of biscuits. Coming soon-  ideas on the best freezable, nutritious food to make for new mums.

- Leave the house a little cleaner than you found it. It shouldn't be hard to find something to do. Fold laundry, dishes, sweep the floor. And if you are there around a meal time don't leave the mess for the parents to deal with when you leave.

- Hire a cleaner - sometimes parents may feel embarrassed to have you come and clean their toilet, so consider paying for a cleaning service to come a few times in those early weeks or months. Even better, check which day will work for the parents, then ring, book and pay so its all taken care of.

- Lend them your DVDs. New parents probably wont get out as much, and breastfeeding mums especially will be spending a lot of time sitting around. TV series are great because you're not committing to 2 hours, but movies can be paused, so give 'em everything you've got. (Keep your own record of what you've leant them incase their sleep deprive brains can't keep track.

For mum:
- Beauty services. She probably can't get to a salon very easily at first. The merry go round of feeding and sleeping doesn't leave much time for scheduled appointments. And she probably barely has time to shower regularly. So come round and offer to pamper her a little. These are things you could do even while she's breastfeeding. Eg pluck eye brows, wax legs, mani pedi, moisturise, facial, even just brush her hair. 

Stock the shower with yummy bath and body products. Showers will be irregular and rushed for a while, so make them special.

- Get her out of the house - sensitively of course. Mum may just want to sleep, or lie on the couch with a cup of tea, but if she's happy to, encourage her to get outside and go for a walk together while you're visiting rather than just sitting on the couch. Mums will benefit from the fresh air and exercise, but sometimes just getting out the front door can seem like too much trouble without a friendly push and a helping hand.

- Tell her she looks great. Admire how well she's bouncing back. Be sincere of course, because an obvious lie will make her feel worse. But its a great little boost to think maybe you don't look as horrible as you thought post baby.

- Buy her some e-books. Check what format she has the gadget to read them on of course. Paper books are harder to manage one handed.

For dad:- Give him some love - dads often get left out when it comes to the care, concern and credit. Everyone goos over the baby and fusses over mum - and rightly so - but dads are experiencing emotions and changes and stress and tiredness too. Plus they often have to pick up slack around the house, emotionally support their partner, learn the ins and outs of newborn care without the 9 months of bonding, mental prep and motherly instinct - all while often still going to work. And then they get ignored. 

So bring a beer, clean the BBQ, mow the lawn, tell him you admire him. All in a totally manly way of course.

- Praise him when he does something well with the baby - and don't act surprised. Act like you knew he would be a natural parent all along.

Hope that helps give you some ideas that new parents will love you for! Any other great ideas for things you've done for new parents, or things others have done for you? Share below!

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