When baby first comes home, people will offer help but, to a new dazed and sleep-deprived parent, what does that mean? It's kind of like when I say I'm starving and Hubbs asks what I want to eat and I say it doesn't matter.
New Parent Brain is real and it's very similar to the hungry person who doesn't know what they want to eat. New parents need/want plenty of things but either a) don't know how to ask or b) don't know what to ask for. These tried-and-true ideas will keep you on their faves list and will prove to be lifesavers for new parents.
At The Hospital
1. The Snack Bucket. Grab an inexpensive bucket or basket and fill it with snacks for the new parents. Not only will it save them from having to splurge on the overpriced hospital snacks but it will allow them to snack even when they're hungry outside of the store hours.
I got all of my supplies from The Dollar Tree and included a mix of healthy protein-packed snacks (nuts, trail mixes, granola bars, peanut butter filled pretzels), childhood favorites (Gold Fish, Lemon Heads and Twizzlers) and chewy sweets (gummy snacks, dried cranberries, chewy candies and gum). I placed a cute little candle in the front and used a basket bag (also from the Dollar Tree) and burlap ribbon to tie it up.
Depending on how long the labor can take, this is great for dad during the time leading to labor but it also makes a great snack station in the room during the hospital stay following labor.
2. Waiting Room Activities. Ryan's room was packed. She had a dozen people in the room and after awhile, I started to feel it was too much (and I wasn't the one in the bed having serious contractions). There were people and their electronics and their conversations and their crap and ugh! I made the first move to get people out and, once we were all in the waiting room, I pulled out the arts and crafts!! Yep, in the waiting room, I had some family use markers and small poster boards to draw pictures and signs for Mason's hospital room.
Once baby was here and they were moved to their final room, I quickly hung the posters on the wall.
As they settled in, Mike and Ryan admired the sweet messages and artwork from family.
3. The Door Decor. Nothing lets the nursing staff know our new baby is loved more than a door sign. You can save some of the baby shower decor or make a banner/wreath. I planned to go all out but it slipped my mind until we were heading south. I used some pennant banners and stickers I picked up from The Dollar Tree. While we waited on his arrival, I made a quick banner and it was adorable:
All it cost me was 2 minutes and $3(2 packs of banners and 1 pack of stickers) and it did the job! The nurses made Mike and Ryan feel so special telling them they'd never seen anyone decorate the door before and reminded them how loved they were (with an entourage of 20 people after delivery following you to your room plus room and door decor, who can be surprised to break records??). Islanders, you just don't know how little things like this help nervous new parents feel the love.
4. Food. You'll see this on the list a number of times. Coming with snacks is always a hit but, after giving birth, Mama is hungry! If you come to the hospital to visit, call ahead and offer to pick-up food from their favorite restaurant. Ryan wanted a grilled nugget meal from Chik-Fil-A and I was happy to oblige.
At Their Home
5. Clean. While I was pregnant, I was most afraid of coming home to a dirty house and being too weak to clean before all of the inevitable visitors would arrive. I talked to my mom everyday and mentioned this nightmare all the time. When I was given the thumbs up to go home, all I could think about was that we left dinner on the stove and laundry on the floor... how I grabbed my bag and hurriedly walked out of the house without any concern for the state of my home. Depending on your relationship with the new parents, your level of cleaning support may differ.
If you have a key or access to their home, go on the day they are scheduled to be released from the hospital and clean. I was able to arrive before they came home and I had the place looking and smelling great! Start in their bedroom and make their bed, dust furniture and place a few bottles of water on their bedside tables. During my two hours, I folded laundry and cleaned. It was so awesome my brother thought the cleaning lady came; he was pleasantly surprised and both parents were VERY grateful. There's something about coming home and settling without the worry of dishes or clutter. It's like when you return from vacation to a spotless home... you know, that 'there's no place like home' feeling; there's nothing like it. If you aren't able to deep clean, when you visit with baby, just take a few moments to help tidy up the place. With an increase in people traffic, there's always something you can find to clean to help out - wipe down counters, wash dishes, wash/fold laundry, pickup any day-to-day trash, etc.
7. Make a Sign. No one ever tells you one of the most awful sounds as a new parent is the doorbell. Most times, baby could care less but for new parents, it can be a cause for headache. Here's a good rule: don't ring or knock. Text upon arrival! To help Mike and Ryan with this rule, I made a small sign that I'm going to hang above the doorbell.
Guess what? I'm sharing the FREE printable with you too!
8. Welcome wreath. Nothing says welcome home like a wreath on the front door. How awesome would it be to have a wreath hanging on the hospital door that can transition to the front door when they come home?
I'm thinking of making a wreath out of a map that says, "welcome to the world, Mason!" It hasn't been a month so I still have time and it'll look sweet on his nursery door afterwards.
9. Survival kits for Mom. There are things moms need when they come home from the hospital. These things help with the recovery weeks and are things nobody wants to ask for but most new moms will appreciate. To take the guessing game out of it, I've compiled a list and it's print-ready for you to take to the store while you shop!
I placed most of the items in the small trash can and gave it to Ryan when she came home. This makes a great gift for the baby shower or your hospital visit as it is full of things new moms need but first-time moms don't think to ask for.
10. Hold the baby. Give the parents a break and let them rest while you hold the baby. Sometimes just heading to the next room will help them relax enough to take a nap. The best thing you can give a new parent is rest!
11. Don't overstay your welcome. Keep your visits short and sweet. They're always gracious and kind but really, they just want to sleep. Don't be the person who sits and talks about nothing for hours on end. If the baby is resting, they should be too. Just gauge their conversation, if they're fading after a few moments, don't take it personally. Tell them you're going to straighten up the kitchen and that you'll see yourself out. It's nothing personal, they're just exhausted.
12. Snap pictures. Take as many pictures as you want and send them to the new parents. I got some great shots with my cell phone and I sent them to Ryan while I was still in the house with them. Oh, and I learned from my time with Devona that one thing every new parents needs to have is a photo sharing site. While I did what I do best (cleaned), Devona put her IT skills to use by creating a place where all the family can access photos of our perfect baby. How cool is that?! Don't be afraid to document pieces of baby... you don't need an entire face all in the pic. If your baby is as cute as my nephew, a PIECE of his face will explode with cuteness.
You know I've been stalking my nephew and sending pictures constantly to anyone who will confirm receipt, right?
Sometimes, I take it a step further and edit the photos on my phone:
Even swaddling moments are cute. What's cuter than a burrito baby?
Trust me, in the early stages, parents miss some of the sweet moments. I took all of these photos while I held my MaseFace (that's his blog name...cute, right?!).
13. Compliments. Yep, those things that every woman, especially one whose body has been disfigured by another human being, needs to hear. The things that help keep the baby blues at bay. The things that don't hurt anyone... use your [kind] words and tell that mama she's beautiful and glowing... tell that daddy he's an awesome dad... and tell them both how perfect that baby is. They appreciate it and they don't mind hearing it. Constantly.
If you do any or all of these things, I guarantee you too will hold the title of best [friend, aunt, uncle, cousin, grandma, etc.] ever! The beauty of what we've covered today is that you're not just helping out, you're doing things that will leave an impression on the new parents and may shape what they do in the future for other new parents. The beauty of giving a gift that makes a difference in someone's life is the realization that THEY may do the same for others in the future.
Not to mention, there's a baby to hold and you, amazing person, are the baby holder to do it. Go, help, hold and be a blessing to someone else!
Oh, and you can totally feel free to scroll back up and check out my awww-dorable neph, Mason.