A close friend recently had her first baby so I went to catch up with her and meet her baby boy. We were chatting away (comparing birth stories no less) and out of nowhere she apologised to me for being such a bad friend. At first I thought she was talking about not being able to do stuff or hang out etc while she was pregnant, but then she went on to mention how she used to get mad at me for not being able to spontaneously meet up with her, or go for drinks, or the fact that I took 2-3 days to reply to her texts etc when I first had my little one last year.
It was interesting that she had brought this up because I remember feeling exactly the same way about my other friends when they had first had their kids, and how I suddenly understood it all once LT had come into my life.
We got to talking about all the misconceptions we had has upcoming parents and how the reality was something quite different, and then we go onto the things we wish our childless friends knew in those early days/weeks/months of being first-time parents, so we decided to come up with a list!
This list is not conclusive, it just more the things that applied to both of us, feel free to add more in the comments!
- When/IF you go to visit them in hospital.. bring food. A much better option than flowers.
- Another great thing to give a new mama is a mini-makeover. She may well feel like she looks like shit (and let’s be honest, she probably will), so giving her a mini-makeover (think brush her hair and put it in a simple but elgant up do, give her quick once over with some bronzer, and eye makeup etc) will make her feel a trillion times better. Trust me, she will be ever so grateful.
- If you plan to make a visit to them at home, try to plan for two visits close to each other. That way you can go to visit so that you can play with the baby and chat to your friend, and the other visit can be purely to help. Whether it be vaccuming the floor, cleaning the bathroom or kitchen, doing the washing, giving her a pamper day etc. Don’t even ask if they need the help, just come in, do your thing and get out. It is the best thing you could ever do for new parents. WARNING: This may make her cry. Be prepared for an emotional outburst.. of the thankful kind of course!
- Anytime that you visit during the first 3 months of your friends becoming parents, make sure that you come with some sort of prepared dinner (for them to have later). If it can be frozen, even better. Parents of newborns will barely have time to eat, let alone cook dinner, so if you are able to provide this for them, it will be a godsend.
- Parents of newborns essentially have no time. Please be patient with them if you don’t hear from them for some time. Their lives have changed in the biggest way possible, and depending on the type of baby that they have, they will barely have time to shower and go to the toilet, nevermind trying to ensure to catch up with friends! Don’t worry, once they find their bearings they will play catch up in no time.
- Be supportive. Send random texts/emails/social media msgs to them to let them know that you are thinking of them and that you are there to help if they need it (that is to say if you are actually willing to help out! If you are not, then please don’t make empty promises).
- Be aware that being a parent to a newborn is all consuming. If you call them up for a quick chat, just know that when it is time for them to talk, 99% of their conversation will be about their baby. Know it. Accept it. Move on.
- If you want to buy them something for the baby, it pays to ask what they might need. From my own experience, we were given a whole lot of stuff from friends that we either didn’t need or doubled up on what we already had. As ungrateful as it sounds, it would have been more helpful if they had asked if we needed anything before forking out for yet another swaddle, onesie, pair of booties etc. Nappies, baby wipes, food, bottles and more food are always a good option 🙂
- If you arrive at your friends house and new-Mum looks and smells like she doesn’t know what a shower is, offer to mind the baby so she can have a shower. New parents may often find it difficult to do such things as shower in the morning because the baby is already awake and being demanding. Offer them assistance so that they can do something that will make them feel relatively normal.
- Don’t shut them out of your life because they can no longer meet up spontaneously for drinks, or coffee, or to workout or whatever it is that you usually do with them. At some point, they will find their groove with their newborn, and once they do, they will want to start socialising again 🙂