Every parenting advice book/blog has something written about letting yourself receive help from family and friends. However, it’s tough to do more than thank friends and family for their vague offer to help. This is what we found to be the most useful during our first week:
Cooking takes time. Getting take-out and delivery can be very time-consuming and take you away from that value bonding time. You want to eat healthfully for mommy and baby’s sake, so accepting help from friends who’re good in the kitchen can be a big help.
You’ll want to make sure they know what you can and can’t eat as a breastfeeding mother. They’ll also need to know that breastfeeding mothers need 500 extra calories per day just to maintain a healthy milk supply. In other words, don’t skimp on quantity.
If people are buying pre-made food (takeout, delivery, etc), make sure that both parents have healthy options.
Cloth diapering (and babies in general requires doing a lot of laundry. Getting help doing laundry is especially important when the washer and dryer are up and down stairs. Mommy won’t be able to do stairs for a little while after giving birth, so make sure that someone else is savvy to your wash and dry routine. Having printed instructions will help so helpers know what type of cycles to use and what to hang dry.
Sanitizing bottles, cleaning-up after a meal, making sure storage areas and the refrigerator are clean … having someone to help with dishes will save you a lot of time. Plus, it’s pretty self-explanatory and an easy task for anyone willing to help.
Once you’re back home, you’ll want to settle into a routine. However, unless you’re super-organized, it’ll help to have someone you can feel comfortable grabbing things from around the house.
5. Dog care
This first week after the baby’s born is hectic: there’s always something that needs taken care of. The last thing you need is your dog begging to be let out while you’re dealing with a diaper blowout and a screaming baby while on 7 minutes of sleep. We definitely advocate teaching the dog to live in harmony with the baby rather than sending him or her off to someone else’s house/boarding. After all, you want the dog to learn that baby is not a threat.
The main thing that you and your help need to understand is that the ultimate goal is for the parents to be able to spend as much quality time with their baby as possible. Helpers are there to make sure that distractions don’t distract. We found that so much of child rearing gets lost in the route of baby’s schedule, so even having a moment to sit and marvel at baby’s beauty can make the hard parts wash away.