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8 ways you can help a new parent

Woman playing with newborn baby on her lapEveryone descends on new parents to meet the newest, smallest, most malleable member of a family.

This is wonderful. And exhausting. And it doesn’t last long.

Here are some helpful tips for those participating in the tidal wave of affection … 8 ways you can help out a family who’ve just welcomed a new baby into the house.

8 ways you can help a new parent

Do not descend immediately

Clearly this advice does not apply to siblings, parents and best buddies. Consider this, though:

After the birth of my first daughter, I was visited by every Tom, Dick and Harry I had ever worked with in about the first fortnight of her life. By the time her one-month birthiversary rolled around, I was hanging out by myself most days. Once I was well rested enough to comprehend this trend, it made me sad. Had I been a bad host? Probably, because I was distracted by the huge new responsibility of being in charge of another being’s life and my ability to make conversation was greatly diminished by the pain I was still experiencing from my stitches.

After the birth of my second daughter, I thought I could control the masses. Only my sister-in-law, closest friends and parents were invited to the hospital. Visiting hours started at 2pm. By 2:05pm, I had 8 people (who didn’t necessarily know each other) crowded around my bed. While I was happy to see them, I was also overwhelmed and my loving urban family probably sensed this.

By 2:30pm, my baby and I were alone. And she was asleep.

One of the best things that happened though, was that one of my colleagues and his wife visited my daughter and I for the first time, three months postpartum. The tardy couple were embarrassed it had taken so long. I was thrilled! All the excitement of people I like gushing over my baby AND I had the energy to enjoy it! I also had had enough time away from work that I was desperate to catch up on work gossip.

Every new mother has her own timeline but it’s worth asking her what it is!

Bring food

Easy and obvious.

Lots of people will bring sweet treats (and who doesn’t love cake?!). True friends will bring milk, fruit, cheese, and/or bread. And superstars bring homemade lasagne, a bottle of wine or pay for pizza to be delivered during arsenic hour.

Make your own cup of tea

And while you’re at it, make one for the new parents. They need the caffeine more than you do. As they gratefully lap up the first hot drink in weeks, this is a perfect opportunity to …

Offer to hold the baby

If the answer is no, do not be offended.

If the answer is yes and baby cries, offer to return the baby. On second thought, also offer to continue holding the crying baby because that can be helpful, too.

If the answer is yes and a parent is not clamouring to have their child returned, encourage mum to get into a hot shower, take her time and shave her legs if that was part of her normal pre-baby practice.

Take photos

Of the parents and baby. Together. And then get one printed for the new family. Not many of these exist.

Fold laundry

Laundry is a never-ending cycle. Hopping in at any stage is the easiest way to improve the ‘feel’ of tidiness in a house. That or dishes. Wash and put away some dishes!

These options are also not as gross as scrubbing toilets. However, if you want to prove your loyalty and earn that honorary ‘auntie’ or ‘uncle’ title, getting on your hands and knees will definitely help your case.

Leave within the hour

You have 60 minutes from when you enter the door to when you’re officially outstaying your welcome. Taking off your shoes and jacket? 59 minutes.

Extensions are possible if:

  1. You are holding baby and mum is still in the shower.
  2. You are holding baby and mum is asleep.
  3. You are cleaning any part of the house.

A shortened 30-minute rules applies if:

  1. Baby is less than a week old.
  2. You did not bring food.
  3. You do not know both parents’ middle names.
  4. This is your first time at the house.

And the final suggestion … Please come again!

You are important. You are loved. You are part of the village that is raising this child, so keep showing up long past the ‘new’ phase.

About Bub Hub

Our Bub Hub team is in the thick of the sleep deprivation, tantrums and unconditional love that comes with parenting. Plus, with the support of Mater, we have unvetted access to the minds of Australia’s leading ...

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4 Comments so far -
  • Nono says:

    Yes people’s common sense goes out the window I have had the experience of the 1 hour plus stayers who don’t help and sit to be served, other kids are hungry crying clingy but they must stay that bit longer to ensure they fit in 101 reasons they would never have another baby, I always stay the 30 min and in that time frame I’ve folded washing or do dishes etc funny how I haven’t had it done to me

  • Peakoh says:

    I love these tips. Especially found it useful when friends brought a meal for dinner!

  • Blossom says:

    People are so excited visiting you and your baby that they forget you are sleep deprived.
    If you are very close relative maybe you could offer to put some washing through the machine and hang it out or whatever their routine is. The Mother may like to lie down and have a quick nap while you are doing that and another chore at the same time. Even if she doesn’t go to sleep it relaxes her muscles – even at 6 weeks. A cousin(by marriage) of mine had visitors(other relatives) we also knew who arrived at 10.00 a.m. and only left at about 5.00pm when she told her husband that they were coming to our place for tea. The Mother went home from the party when it was time for baby’s feed about 10.30pm as they lived close by. They had all been to my brother’s 21st birthday the night before except for my cousin – he missed out because he only got home early on the Sun. morning (he was an interstate transport driver with a national company). We invited them to tea on the Sun. night so he could celebrate with my brother and not miss out on a family gathering as so often happened. We also had a fair bit of food left. The other relatives left their place and turned up unexpected at our place, knowing the others were coming to tea. When the Mother went for her check-up a few days later the Dr. told her she needed to get more rest, that she was having muscle spasms. The first 3 months I rarely visited unless I was invited or went there specifcally to help with chores including the washing so she could relax while baby was asleep. I knew other visitors were going there a lot. She knew they were welcome at our place any time and to call if she needed help at all.

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