Before having children I didn’t ever know what to do for people who had just given birth. It is such an exciting time for lots of reasons but it can also be a hectic time, as the family adjust to their new addition. I know first hand how amazing it is to have the help and support of family and friends after giving birth, but it can be difficult to know what to do, particularly if you don’t have children of your own. I’ve put together a few ideas that hopefully you will find useful.
Don’t just turn up – always check it is ok to visit. Don’t be surprised if it is a random time window, if your visit is cut short by a fussy baby or if they say no.
My sister brought me loads of tasty healthy M&S ready meals which was honestly the best thing ever. With a new baby it is often a toss up between eating and sleeping…for me, sleeping always wins. It really can be hard to remember to eat, or it can just seem too much effort. Another option is cooking them a meal and dropping it off.
My Mum brought me a massive basket of fresh fruit and vegetables. We tend to have a stock of staples in the cupboards, so it meant we didn’t have to think about shopping for a while.
Offer to look after the older child if you can – overnight or take them out for the day. My Mum had Winston for 3 days after I gave birth and I felt like we’d been on holiday!
If you’re anything like me you find it hard accepting help. Rather than saying to people: “Let me know if I can help”, say: “I’ll cook for you next week, which day would you like it?” Make it definitive and non negotiable!
When you’re visiting (particularly if it’s a few days after) don’t let the new Mum do much. Everything can be a little sore after giving birth and getting up and down can be quite an effort. If you’re offered a drink – always offer to get it yourself. Don’t put any pressure or expectation on the host.
If you’re comfortable with older children – play with them and pay them lots of attention. Winston loved playing with all the visitors we had.
Ask if they need any little jobs doing, such as a visit to the Post Office, a few bits from the shops or even a bit of washing up.
…and of course enjoy the lovely new creature!
I must confess that when my husband announced that he would be taking Winston to his first football session a mere 6 days after he turned two, I did have a
minor major laughing fit. I can’t imagine anything more pointless than a room of 2-4 year olds attempting to ‘play’ football. Would they even kick a football?
The two of them took off together dressed in their sports gear and equipped with water (somehow I managed to find an England shirt for W to wear in the back of his drawer? Not sure who planted that). I loved the thought of the two of them having something that I’m not part of, as I tend to take over (not on purpose) when it’s the four of us, and I absolutely love it when Winston comes home and has lots to tell me.
Apparently ‘football training’ included lots of drills – picking up the ball, lying down, standing up, running, picking up cones, clapping and jumping. I’m not convinced that it will help Winston become the pro footballer Jared wants him to be (!) but certainly good for teaching Winston how to follow instructions, learning new ways to use his body and gaining physical confidence. Jared said it was one of his favourite ever experiences with Winston, and they shared an after training treat which is just so special. I have warned Jared that he is not allowed to be disappointed or pushy if W decides football isn’t one of his interests as he grows up, but I do hope they have a passion they can share, even if it doesn’t turn out to be football.
I’m still not even sure if they kicked a football? Must find out.
One thing I am finding indispensable with baby Rufus is our Moby sling. It is priceless. It has made tricky situations…less tricky. I do have a double buggy which I love, and use for our missions into town, but a lot of the time a sling and a fold down buggy is so much easier; particularly when Rufus is still so small and light. I use it most days and paid £14 from eBay including postage and packaging. Bargain. Quite often I put it on before getting in the car, so I can pop Rufus straight in when we reach our destination.
Here are some scenarios I have used it for:
- An impromptu train journey is possible when you see the absolute horror (you would have thought Thomas the Tank Engine had been murdered) on your toddlers face as he realises he is not getting on the train with his Dad…so we all got on. The two boys and I had been on a train ride, into town and returned home by 10:30am! Thank goodness I was organised that morning – certainly not the norm. I never want to see that look on his face ever again. He looked absolutely broken.
- Food shopping with two (or one) is so much easier if I have two hands free and can guarantee Rufus is settled. All Winston needs is a punnet of blueberries or tomatoes to keep him quiet. I don’t consider that bribery.
- It makes the London Underground manageable…although we won’t be doing that again for a while! It was rather mad and you do get strange looks.
- At the park when you want to supervise your older child and don’t really want to leave your baby miles away in a buggy.
- When you’re there at the soft play area solo, because you didn’t think through the practicalities of going alone with two. I must admit there were a few awkward situations. Needless to say I won’t be going alone again. Let’s just say the sling meant there were far fewer awkward situations.
- Rufus sleeps for much longer in a sling than he would in a pram, which means it is easier to stick to his routine when we’re out and about.
- We’ve used it at night time to settle Rufus to sleep if he’s been particularly wakeful.
- Dinner time can sometimes stressful – both boys are hungry so quite often I cook with Rufus in the sling. I’m not sure it is recommended but it works a treat.
- When Rufus is in it, he keeps me so warm!
Yes – it is just a long piece of thick jersey fabric but it is seriously brilliant. I wish I’d used one with Winston – the things I could have done! I love it so much that I’m thinking of buying another to keep in the car. I’m scared one day I will forget it and I’m not sure I want to deal with the consequences…
I’ve been determined to grow my hair super long for as long as I can remember, but recently I’ve secretly been flirting with the idea of getting it chopped. I say secretly, because I have moaned so much over the years to my husband about how I wish my hair would grow faster: “Oh, just two more inches!”, over and over again. Ignoring the fact that it was hard to maintain and tired looking. Not to mention impractical for feeding, baby wearing and bag carrying. It seemed to get trapped everywhere and be Rufus’ face all the time. I like to wear it down to prevent my frizzy baby hair from taking over.
I bumped into a hairdresser friend a few weeks ago and arranged an appointment with her. I told her to do what she thought needed to be done (which was rather brave of me)…and this is what I came out with:
She has given it a good chop (so much hair was on the floor afterwards), some subtle highlights and used a toner to take all the orange/yellow tones out that I hated. I have dyed it with all sorts over the past few years when I’ve had a random urge for a colour change whilst food shopping at the supermarket (!)
It’s shorter than I expected, shocks me every time I see it and will take a while to get used to, but it is certainly way more practical, so much healthier, happier and far easier to wash and manage. It dries so much quicker. For some strange reason shorter hair is making me feel more fun, and on occasion is reminding me of my Mum!
Meanwhile…how hard is it to find a picture of oneself? After looking through about 300 of my children, I found a few. It seems my children will never know what I looked like or what we did together. Going to try and make sure I’m in a few – don’t have one with me and Rufus since the day he was born. Whoops.