How To Support a New Parent
A while back, I wrote a "survival guide" for the new grandparent. After I posted it, I received messages from readers with stories about visitors that came over, sat their tushes on the couch for hours, left their fast food garbage behind, and posted IG selfies of them and the baby throughout the entire visit.
Now, I know that none of your friends would ever do that (riiiiiight?) but I was surprised that the stories were all so similar! Because new parents don't always have the courage or energy to speak up, I’ve put a few suggestions together ready for you to forward or gently suggest to visiting friends.
If you’re visiting a new Mama, THANK YOU. Regardless of what you do or bring, the action of merely coming to visit is awesome. We’re discovering this new life, while still trying to hold onto our old one. You are the presence that keeps us connected to our life, pre-parenthood. Settling into our new lives as parents takes time, and friendships that make it past the early stages of parenting, are friendships that will make it through any stage of life.
A few things that would help a lot:
Come over with food (!!) and proactively ask your friend how long she’s up for visitors, particularly right after labor. This depends on the mom — one friend of mine wanted visitors immediately after she had the baby, while on the other hand, I wanted to live in a cave with brief visits. Be accepting of your friend’s choice either way. I’ll always remember when our friends delivered boba all the way from Santa Monica. They knew I was still in cave-mode, so they literally dropped it off, waved hello through the door, and took off. It was so insanely cool of them.
Ask if there’s a chore you can help with and clean up after yourself. I’m just gonna put it out there that cleaning up after yourself whenever visiting anyone’s home is considerate and a must-do when visiting a new parent’s home. As for the chore, you might be surprised. It could turn out to be hanging with baby while mama showers or has a private moment in the loo. Either way, it will be GREATLY appreciated.
Be understanding of things that might seem weird or off. During a visit from my best friend, I received a text from our night nurse, who, in my postpartum state, I simply accepted as the “law” on baby care. Our night nurse said that if Wes wakes, let him look around his crib for a while before reaching for him. When Wes woke up and Mark went to reach for him, and I ran over to intercept – like I was running to eat my first piece of sushi postpartum! To this day I still can’t explain exactly why that was such a big deal but it felt like life and death at the time. #Hormones
Wash your hands the moment you step through the door. Pretty please.
Continue to call, text, and check in, even if you don’t hear from us right away. You're our connection to the outside world and we love you for that.
But please don’t:
Compare us to other moms or proactively say things like “Dianne is such a great mom! She’s so chill, doesn’t have schedules, and is SO flexible!” We know you didn’t finish the sentence with “…unlike you!” but that’s what it could feel like. Again, #Hormones.
Sit on the couch and watch TV or Instagram throughout the entire visit. Don’t forget that you’re there to meet the baby and to support us.
Visit while you’re sick. Even if it’s just a small sniffle, please don’t risk passing it to the baby or to us.
Take delays in responding to text, calls, or emails personally. My response time before having Wes was long. Those who know and love me know it doesn’t mean anything about them. If something’s really important, they’ll let me know.
Be afraid to ask to hold the baby. We’re excited for you guys to bond, so go for it and soak up that newborn sweetness!
Regardless of what friends have or haven’t done on this list, I love them so dearly for being a part of my life since I became a mom and for being a proactive part of Wes’ life. In many cases, parenthood has brought my friends and I even closer and created a bond I never expected. There have definitely been messes for me to clean up after visits, but seeing Wes light up when he plays with his "aunties" and "uncles" makes up for it tenfold.
To all the "aunties" and "uncles": We love you guys. We're grateful for your friendship and for how you keep us in touch with our old-selfs. Thank you for being here and for supporting us through this new adventure!