A new baby -- what a joy! Those tiny fingers and little coos make you want to be the perfect parent. That's why you need to try to stay at your best. After a few days of being pulled away from what you're doing every two hours or so -- whether you were showering, sleeping, or cooking -- perfection is hard for anyone to pull off. It's time for a little help from your friends.
Support can make the first few weeks with your newborn less overwhelming. Even if you don't think you'll need them, have some potential helpers on standby, just in case.
How Friends and Family Can Help
Often, after you've given birth, people will say, "Just let us know if we can help with anything." Take them up on the offer! You will both feel more at ease if you specifically give them one or two tasks they can help you with.
- Make meals or bring in carry-out. If you have friends who are quick in the kitchen, or who are used to cooking for a large family, ask if they can help out by bringing dinner. Give them a sense about how often a meal would help, like on the first night after your baby is born, or every time your spouse works late. Maybe friend-supplied dinners will do the trick for the first month. Talk it over so you'll both know what you're agreeing to.
- Light housecleaning. Some friends and family who pop by to see the baby may not mind picking up the clutter in the living room, sponging down the kitchen counters, or throwing a load of laundry in the wash. Add it to your list of tasks you'd appreciate some help with -- you might be surprised who takes you up on it.
- Transportation. Maybe you're not feeling up to driving and your partner can't be around. Ask a friend or family member to take you to your baby's next pediatric appointment.
- Errands. Do you really want to run around town with a newborn, picking up groceries, baby supplies, and prescriptions? Of course not! If you don't feel like getting out of the house, ask someone to run these errands for you.
- Care for pets. Walk your dog. Feed your fish. Take your cat to the vet. A helpful friend or family member can take on most pet-care tasks.
When your friends come by for their tasks, just smile and stay thankful. It's not unusual for women to get cold feet and turn the help away that they've arranged. Relax. Wouldn't you help your friend out in the same way? Be flexible -- not paranoid -- if your friend needs to change the time or updates you on their plans. They're probably not trying to get out of helping you as you may fear -- just working through life.
Share Your Baby, but Not Too Much
Some people may think they are helping you by holding your baby so you can cook, clean, or work around the house. Of course, sometimes you may want someone to hold your baby so you can take a shower or get a good nap. But most moms want to maximize their own time spent with their new babies.
Consider setting time limits for how long someone can hold your baby. Or if you're feeling really gracious and energetic, you might offer to alternate doing tasks and holding the baby.
Meet Other Moms
If you're a new mom, you'll probably want support from other moms in the same boat -- and maybe some moms with babies and toddlers who are just a bit older. How do you find them?
- Check out mom organizations. Most communities have a variety of moms' groups: Look at your church, temple, day care center, or pediatrician's office for flyers or suggestions.
- Search online. Many parenting message boards have sections for moms in specific cities or areas to share local info. And often these groups will plan face-to-face meet-ups. Just be sure to arrange meetings in public places at first, to confirm that your online buddies are really who they say they are!
- Sign up for baby activities. Taking your little one to the Little Gym, Oh Baby Fitness! or Mommy & Me is fun for them. But it can be a lifesaver for you!Other moms there will all have babies around the same age. And they're probably dealing with most of the same issues you are. So strike up a conversation!
- Go to the park or to the library's story time. Then fearlessly talk with another parent.
- Try a new moms' exercise class. It's double the benefits -- improved fitness and a new friend. Look online or check with your local YMCA or with Stroller Strides, which offers fitness programs for moms and their babies.