how to support new parents

my blog has definitely taken a backseat lately with Lucy here, and all the other life things going on. that being said, this post has been on my mind for awhile and I’m excited to finally share! today, I want to share some ways you/anyone can support and help new parents. before having Lucy, I didn’t know a ton of people with kids, so didn’t have a lot of  hands-on experience helping new parents.

here’s some of the amazing, helpful and supportive things people did for US after Lucy was born! some were “big things” and some were small, but still significant things. some were expensive, others were free. some things required people be there in person and hands-on helping, right in our apartment. others were things that people did who live far away, who haven’t even met Lucy yet. all of that being said — there are SO many ways to help and support new parents, so don’t let money, time, distance, etc. prevent you from supporting new mamas and papas. ? without further ado, here’s some ways to help and support a friend who recently had a baby!

bring flowers  because keeping my apartment looking nice was absolutely at the bottom of my priority list. i remember my friend Ali bringing over flowers on a particularly hard and emotional day and I started crying when she walked in with the flowers. it was a thoughtful, beautiful gift and the pretty blooms made me happy every time I looked at them. my friend Cait also shipped me flowers early on with the sweetest note and it made by day just getting the bouquet in the mail. ?

wash hands, don’t come around if you’re sick, etc.  I’m totally not a germ freak (how can I be when I have a dog who is obsessed with licking my baby ?) but I really appreciated when people would instinctively wash their hands right away before holding the baby. I read something that some people have a sign on their door reminding people to wash hands but that’s just a little too intense for me. if you have a friend with a new baby, just be super conscious of health and cleanliness, because it can feel awkward and bossy for the parent to ASK you to wash your hands. ? along the same lines of cleanliness and health…we recently had a birthday party for Eric and one of my best friends, Rob, texted me saying he wasn’t going to come because he had strep earlier in the week. even though he wasn’t contagious anymore, I really appreciated how he thought of Lucy and her health first and foremost.

take out trash and do dishes  this is a super non-glamorous (and free!) way to help new parents but SO appreciated. dishes and trash tend to pile up, especially in the first few weeks. it’s awkward to ask someone to take out trash or do your dishes; new parents don’t want to come across as needy. I SO appreciated the good friends who just made themselves comfortable at our apartment and offered (or just flat out did it without even telling me) to take down our trash and recycling or do dishes.

don’t stay *too* long  keep your visits to new parents and babies short and sweet! especially in the very first few weeks…don’t stay longer than an hour. Or, just be self-aware and read the cues. everyone is different, but I always WANTED to have people come visit, but also didn’t want to have to tell them to leave. sometimes Lucy would get really fussy while someone was visiting and I needed to devote my time to getting her to calm down or get to sleep. in those situations, I always appreciated people being aware and realizing it was time to go.

give parents a break — another description would be “bounce / rock / walk around / soothe / etc.” Lucy was obsessed with our exercise ball, which was great, because bouncing made her stop crying, but it was also not great, because bouncing on a yoga ball for hours on end is exhausting and hurts your back. we had so many friends come over and offer to just bounce her for us so we could do ANYTHING ELSE. just offering to hold, rock, bounce, soothe a baby is incredibly helpful, just to give the parents a few minutes to do something/anything else!

make or order food — soooo many friends did this for us and I’m eternally grateful. ? some people made homemade dinners and others ordered us takeout — both were great. one of eric’s work vendors even sent us a massive honeybaked ham + turkey dinner! ? my mom was visiting for a few weeks at the beginning, and one thing I remember was a friend also bringing enough takeout for my mom, too.  just remember that food is ALWAYS appreciated and don’t be offended if the new parents can’t hang out or socialize all the time (as mentioned earlier!).

random drop-offs — one couple friend dropped off a bottle of wine and dessert for us. several friends would just text me and say they were dropping off a cup of coffee from a nearby café. in both scenarios, no one expected to be entertained by me/us or stuck around for hours. these “random drop-offs” were super appreciated and amazing — just make sure to text/call beforehand (i.e. “I’m in your neighborhood at this café. Can I swing by and drop you off a coffee?”).  the completely surprise visits can be overwhelming and not ideal for a lot of new parents (although it didn’t personally bother me).

give extra attention to jack (or other kids, if a friend has multiple children) as you know, we love our dog Jack and making sure he adjusts well to Lucy is really important to us. it was so sweet when friends would come over and not immediately demand to hold Lucy, but would sit with Jack and give him extra attention. obviously, the majority of our time and energy was/is dedicated to Lucy, so it was really awesome when people snuggled with Jack or even played toys / threw ball with him in our apartment.

write encouraging card or send random “just thinking of you” texts — I loved getting cards from friends! this is an easy way to support and encourage friends with new babies, especially if you don’t live nearby. getting mail always made me happy. along the same lines, I appreciated (and still do, maybe even more now) getting random, out-of-nowhere texts from friends telling me they were thinking of me or asking about my day. after the initial wave of baby excitement, it can feel like everyone goes back to their normal, exciting adult lives and new parents are still in this new smelly, sleep-deprived baby world. I love(d) when friends would ask about my day, even though they knew that nothing remotely exciting or special was happening, just because they care about me.

recognize and be okay with space — new parents can’t spend as much time with friends as they’d like. or, at least I haven’t been able to. and that’s hard and can make me feel really guilty. well, I can hang out if you want to come to my house ? , but I can’t always go out and *do* other things like I used to before Lucy was born. if you have a friend who has a baby, don’t get annoyed or upset with them if they can’t go to different events/parties or if they are a little flakey. new parents don’t have control over their own schedules in the same way, and trust me – THEY WANT TO HANG OUT WITH YOU, but just can’t in the new phase of life with baby.

send gifts — people have been so kind and generous with us! from friends to coworkers to relatives, we have received so many sweet care packages and it’s been so appreciated, every time. we’ve received baby goodies like diapers, onesies, pajamas, baby bath stuff, etc. and also gift cards to grocery delivery via GoodEggs, food delivery via Caviar/DoorDash, laundry service, and Amazon/Target. another friend shipped me her favorite concealer (after I complained about my dark circles under my eyes) = genius gift idea.

offer to babysit — this is something to offer (if you feel comfortable) when the baby is a little older! most parents wouldn’t leave their little ones with a babysitter, even a good friend, in the first few weeks. but, as babies get older, parents NEED to get out and do things without baby, so offering to babysit is a great way to support and help them out. ?

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