10 steps to be a kickarse friend to a new parent
How amazing is that feeling when you’re scrolling Instagram or check your phone and you learn that a friend has finally welcomed their baby!?
Beyond that pretty photo of bub nestled against a cute sign that says, “I’ve arrived!”, is a family so exhausted and so in love that their eyes might just fall out of their heads. This is your moment to be an amazing friend. I promise you, as someone who has welcomed a new baby now FOUR times, I will never forget the kindness of friends who despite their own busy lives made it their mission to take care of us however they could. I personally feel that we have a responsibility to cushion new parents in as much love and practical support as we possibly can, but it can be hard to know exactly what to do to celebrate a new baby while giving their parents the space they need during this beautiful, challenging, whirlwind of a season. So, here are 10 ways to be a supportive friend:
1. Freezer friendly meals or ready-made lunches are what dreams are made of for tired, overwhelmed new mamas and papas. So many people are only interested in meeting the baby which can be oh so draining. Dropping a healthy meal on the doorstep is a simple way to say “I love you and am thinking of you” and your kindness won’t be overlooked.
2. Don’t come over to ‘see the baby’ and spend your visit trying to take a cute pic for insta. I need not go into detail. Don’t do it.
3. Ask if you can put a load of washing on. Newborn washing is endless and If you are close enough to visit in the first few weeks, you are close enough to do housework.
4. If you are lucky enough to be offered a cuddle, do so while Mum showers, eats or naps and if bub starts fussing, ask the parents if they’d like to take bub to be fed/soothed/changed.
5. A quick tidy never goes astray! Stack the dishwasher, replenish pantry supplies, and take the bin out as you leave. I don’t know about you, but I feel instantly more in control when my house is clean. On another note though. if they say please don't - listen to that Mumma and don't!
6. I firmly believe people should be supported to breastfeed anywhere, any time. However, if you suspect that someone may NOT feel comfortable feeding in front of you, visiting in the early days is not appropriate.
7. Be mindful that phone calls and facetime can be draining for new parents, so keep them short and use them to genuinely check in i.e. “are you managing to get some rest?” or “do you feel well in yourself?”. Often hearing, “we just wish we could meet the baby!” isn’t overly helpful.
8. Don’t offer unsolicited advice. There is a big difference between someone calling to mentally offload and saying “hey…Can I get your advice on something?” (As a midwife and someone who is ‘solution-oriented I have to be cautious of this myself). If in doubt and you don’t know what to say, praise praise praise, “you’re doing so well, truly, amazing”, “I’m so proud of you, this little one is lucky to have you”.
9. Take care of their pets! The fur babies are probably reeling at the new arrival and having someone tap in to show them some love while the family unit adjusts can be super helpful. Offer to take the dog for a walk, feed the chooks, or collect the eggs.
10. Gifts can be a beautiful way to show someone you are thinking of them… but consider this giant nappy tower I picked up at the gift shop a help or a hindrance? Novelty balloons, unless they are the Fancy Schmancy Ballon Co, floral arrangements and baskets containing gimmicky blue or pink items often get binned at the hospital. Harsh but true. Think more along the lines of food vouchers, treats for mum (face masks, a body scrub), and baby basics in a few sizes up.
To finish, I want to add that while newborn life is challenging, being a parent is a tough gig in general. I maintain that it’s the best and hardest thing I’ve ever done. As the months tick by, don’t forget about your friends…the doorstep meal, surprise coffee and offer to come to hold the baby while they catch up on sleep will never not be appreciated. X