Having a newborn is exhausting. When Isla was born, I felt a kind of tired I had never experienced before. As babies do not have normal body clocks when they’re first born, they tend to wake every 2-3 hours to feed, which may take up to 45 minutes. I have a journal from Isla’s first weeks which tracked her eating patterns. 1-1:45am, 4-4:45am, 7-7:45am, 10-10:45am, 1-1:45pm, 4-4:45pm, 7-7:45pm, 10-10:45. And repeat. Ohmygosh. How do new moms survive? The answer is cliche, but true: the love you feel for your child is what keeps you going and makes the exhaustion worthwhile, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a challenge. Add loads and loads of laundry, dishes, and cleaning to the mix, and your head is spinning. Preparing food for dinner? No way. Even chores like walking the dog become an ordeal. After experiencing life with a newborn, I have tips to share that will prepare you to help any friend who is in a similar situation.
Setup a meal delivery schedule
I am part of the Spring Valley Mom’s Club, and when Isla was born, I had meals delivered to the house three times a week for six weeks from other members. It was amazing. I definitely did not realize how exhausting even the thought of making dinner would be, so when I had food dropped off at the front door, I was thrilled. If your friend doesn’t already have a delivery schedule (or ‘meal train’ as its commonly referred to), then offer to set one up for her!
I created a meal delivery Google calendar for you to leverage. You can access the file here. Once you open it in Google Drive, go to File < Make a Copy and create a copy in your own Drive account. You need to fill out the mom’s name, address, number, food delivery and meal requests, and then update the first date in yellow (it doesn’t have to start on a Monday). Send her the link, and tell her to send it to people to fill in when they offer to bring food. This eliminates people bringing food twice on the same day, and also lets other people see what type of food they’re receiving a lot of in order to variate. Make sure that the Google file is set up where everyone with the link can edit! I promise you, your friend will thank you!
You can also use the set Meal Train, which I’m seeing more and more of recently. It’s very simple to use and easy to share with others looking to bring food to friends.
As my good friend, Mara (of Hook, Thread & Tinker), suggested in her Gift Ideas for a New Mom post, buying a new mom groceries or giving her an Instacart gift certificate (groceries delivered to your door!) is an incredibly valuable present. My mom did our grocery shopping for the first few weeks, and I was very grateful for her doing this, as taking a trip to HEB was literally the last thing in the entire world I wanted to do with a newborn.
Even if your friend balks at the thought of doing a full trip, I’m sure she would be okay with asking for cereal, milk, toothpaste, etc. Be persistent, as nobody wants to feel like an inconvenience!
Do household chores
Do a load of laundry. And when your friend tries to tell you ‘no,’ offer again. Isla went through multiple outfits a day, a million towels, lots of burp cloths, and then there was our clothes that were also getting covered in ‘baby juice.’ Our guests would grab a laundry basket and throw it in the wash, and then leave it folded in the laundry room (my mom would sometimes put it away – isn’t she the best?).
Fill up the dishwasher and put clean dishes away. These tasks that are no fun for anyone became things I would seriously dread doing. Doing the dishes is way less personal than laundry, so if you’re more comfortable offering this, then do it! You can even just stack clean dishes neatly on the countertop if you don’t know where they go. Every little gesture counts!
Give the gift of a maid
We have a maid who comes every second Thursday, but when Isla was born, I was desperate for someone to clean up every single day. We had a ton of guests who all brought flowers and gifts (very much appreciated!) and of course, dirt from shoes (could do without!). The house was in a constant state of chaos, and I would have loved for someone to gift us with an extra cleaning session. You can buy a Molly Maid gift certificate, and they operate in a most big cities in America. Make sure your friend is comfortable having someone clean their house first though!
Offer to baby-or-dog-sit
Although your friend will likely want to catch up with you, they may also take you up on an offer to watch the baby while they nap. Offering to babysit during the day versus at night (which people will kindly offer, but the last thing I wanted to do in the first few weeks was go on a date night with Sasha! I was exhausted!) is very helpful for a new mom. I recommend you take the baby outside of the house if your friend is comfortable with it (like going on a walk), as it’s hard to rest when you hear your baby in the next room.
Another suggestion would be to offer to help take care of any pets. Our sweet dog, Belle, definitely fell by the way side once Isla was born. She used to be our baby, and all of a sudden, we had a real baby, and Belle definitely suffered. My older sister took good care of Belle when Isla was born, as did the rest of the family, and we were so grateful. Walking a baby and a dog was quite a challenge at first!
I have 9,342 photos from the first few weeks of Isla’s life (an exaggeration, but not by much!), and I probably only have 10 of me and Isla together (typical mom problem, as we’re normally the ones behind the lens!) Even if you are not an expert photographer, offer to take photos of your friend and her baby. Even if it’s just a few iPhone photos, documenting those early moments is important, as those days quickly become a blur. I hated how I looked in some of the pictures we have together, and I literally don’t care at all now, as I just love having the photo of us!
After reading these six suggestions, please let me know if someone did something for you that was helpful! I know a number of expecting moms, and I’d love to have even more tips up my sleeve.