Today marks Harper's first full week at daycare! I actually went back to work on January 2nd, but Dave's cousin Brenda was here last week to watch Harper so she didn't have to start daycare until this week. It was SO nice to have Brenda here last week. She watched Harper while we were at work (and when we were home!) made us great dinners, did laundry, baked Dylan pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, and so many other little things that made our life so much easier last week! We were very sad to see her go back home to her family last Saturday.
Watching all the stuff she was doing got me thinking. How many people know what to really do for people that have just had kids? If you have kids it's easier to know what to do to help parents out, but as your kids get older you might forget how tough (and easy) newborns are. So if you are heading out to visit a friend with a newborn here is my list of helpful things you can do for the parents(some are more applicable if you are staying at their house):
1. Hold the baby while the parents eat and let them eat first. Especially if the mom is breastfeeding the baby, she will be starving and appreciate not having to hold the baby while she is eating. While Harper is a pretty easy baby it always seems that around dinner time she wants someone to hold her, it's nice to be able to eat a hot meal at a normal pace and not have to worry about finishing eating in record speed!
2. Leave food for the parents. Brenda left us spaghetti lasagna and an egg casserole to make when she left. All we had to do was bake them. It is so nice to have homemade food that can just be thrown in the oven or reheated after work.
3. Put the baby to bed. Guess what Mom's and Dad's you aren't going to be there to put your kids to be every night! You might as well start letting someone else put your baby to bed. (Unless you are exclusively breastfeeding, then this might be tough...) Brenda put Harper to bed for us and it was awesome. I could go to bed at 9:30 or so and get a decent amount of sleep before Harper would wake up to eat. It was awesome. Why Dave and I didn't do this sooner I don't know.
3a. Wake up with the baby in the morning so the parents can sleep. They have probably been up with the baby off and on during the night. Letting them sleep in and get caught up on sleep is a huge help
4. Help around the house. Fold laundry, wash dishes, empty the dishwasher, sweep the floor it will be appreciated.
4. If you are going to bring the new parents/baby something bring them diapers/wipes/formula. I would rather someone buy me $20 worth of diapers than spend it on flowers. Harper got a lot of Target gift cards for Christmas and we have used them specifically for her diapers, wipes and formula, the gift cards have been a great help.
5. Help refill bottles and change diapers. Another thing I noticed while Brenda was visiting us. If Harper would finish a bottle and want more to drink Brenda would get up and refill the bottle for whomever was feeding Harper. I know it seems like a little thing, but refilling a bottle while holding a baby is a pain, having someone else do it is great. Dave and I are doing this for each other now too.
6. Play with the other kids. Brenda built forts with Dylan, played games with him, got him snacks, made him dinner, and gave him baths. Or she took care of Harper while we took care of Dylan.
7. I had 2 c-sections so I only know about that recovery, here are a few things to help someone who has had a c-section:
Offer to pick up items from the store since the new mom can't drive herself the first few weeks after having a c-section.
Don't underestimate how painful the recovery is, it hurts like hell for the first few weeks at least. It is very difficult to do even simple tasks like emptying the dishwasher. That was most frustrating for me, people underestimating how painful the recovery is. Make sure the person takes their pain medication, you do need to move around after a c-section and the only way you can do that without crying in pain is to take the pain medicine.
8. Watch the baby while the mom/dad sleep. This was a huge help for me too, I napped when Harper napped, but I slept so much better when someone else watched her while I was sleeping.
9. This isn't so much to help the new parents out as it is for the new parents. Don't be afraid to learn new things from your friends/family that visit. It doesn't mean you are a bad parent because your cousin showed you a new and easier way to burp your baby. Be grateful you don't have to spend 20 minutes trying to burp your baby anymore!
10. Don't expect the parents to entertain you, you are there to help them, they have a baby that probably isn't sleeping much and they are probably tired. Don't be high maintenance.
Don't be afraid you are going to step on the parents toes if you help out. Yes, you should probably ask before doing some of these things, but for the most part the parents will be grateful for the help!
Did I miss anything that helped you out as a new parent?