So before I had a baby, I obviously really didn’t know how to treat a new mom. What was most helpful to her? What did she need? What didn’t she need? What should I do for her? What should I not do for her? What should I ask? What do I dooooo? (Okay, to be honest, I didn’t really think about all of these things too much, but y’know. Some people do. Right?)
But now I have Asa. And he’s a good baby, but there are still things that stress me out, especially when I’m expecting company. Especially because I also work from home. And am generally not organized. So (with a little help from a good friend who also has kids) here’s a little list of things you, as a non-mother-person, can do for that mom friend you want to hang out with:
1. When she gives you a time to come over, don’t be early. Well, I mean… you can be like five minutes early. But don’t even think about coming earlier than that, because chances are she’s given you the time that the baby will be awake (or asleep, if you have plans to do something that requires baby-free hands), all of her stuff is done, and she’s at least had a chance to shower (aka, spray dry shampoo in her hair and scrape off yesterday’s makeup with a wet rag.) If you think you’re going to be early, make triple sure she’s okay with that first. Because if you glibely say “I can be there early, so don’t mind me while you do your stuff!” chances are, she’s going to stress and totally mind you.
2. Conversely, don’t be there super late, either. She’s scheduled this time out for you to hang with her and the baby, who is probably on a schedule of its own, but suddenly you’re not there, and the time she wants to spend with you is inching closer and closer to when she had been planning on kicking you out because in a few minutes the afternoon crawls into grumpy baby territory… and now it’s stressful.
So basically, just be on time. Or within five minutes either way.
3. Bring coffee. Oh, please, please bring coffee (or tea. Or a sugary drink). Some days, coffee is the only sanity-keeper, and she probably needs it. Badly. (But make sure you ask if there’s anything for her to avoid, in case the baby has a dairy sensitivity, or she’s trying to lose that baby weight and sugar-free will make her feel like so much less of a cow.)
4. Better yet, offer to meet somewhere for coffee, or take her out for a shopping date. That way, she doesn’t have to worry about cleaning the house before you get there. Because no matter how much she loves you, and now matter how much you tell her you don’t care, she’s still worried about the dishes in the sink, the garbage can overflowing with poopy diapers, the baby laundry on the floor, and the toys that are everywhere.
5. Don’t stay too long. She loves you. She really does. But there’s a baby wanting to be fed, dinner needing to be made, naps to be taken, chores to be done, and a million other things she needs to do before it’s time to collapse into bed, and she no longer has the luxury of just doing it whenever she feels like doing it. She now has a baby to work around; a baby that, no matter how good, tends to mess up her schedule and hamper the work she can get done. So be aware of the time, and excuse yourself after a few hours, so she doesn’t have to feel bad and kick you out herself.
6. Bring up lots of things to talk about. Because mostly, she hangs out with a baby all day, so the only subjects she remembers are poop, bath time, and sleeping schedules. And she will totally tell you her birth story in all of its glory if you ask. Or even if you don’t ask. So be prepared.
7. Don’t judge her parenting style. Not even silently. She can feel it. Just don’t go there. Let her do her thing, and wait till you have kids before you try to give her advice. Unless she asks for it. And even then, tread lightly.
8. Do her chores. With lots of enthusiasm. Don’t ask, tell. Tell her you’d like to do her dishes. Tell her you want to help fold her laundry. Tell her you love doing whatever it is you’re about to do, because if you ask her, she’ll probably tell you not to worry about it. Moms don’t ask people to do things for them, because moms are embarrassed that they didn’t do that thing first. So do something for her, especially if she’s a really, really new mom, and act like you love it even if you don’t.
9. Remind her that her house doesn’t have to be perfect. Remind her that yours isn’t, either, and you don’t even have a kid. Remind her that you’re just coming over because you need to squeeze the cheeks of the baby she just had, not because you want to see how clean her house is. Because it isn’t. (Be like my lovely friend Brianna, who joyfully exclaimed “I like messes!”)
10. No matter how much you love it, do not compare your pet to her kid. You might be a proud cat mom, or dog mom, or parakeet mom, or goldfish mom (er… y’know)… but your cat/dog/parakeet/goldfish is not a baby. It might vie for your attention, but it does not scream at nap time. It might wake you up at night, but it lets you go back to sleep. You might feed it faithfully every day, but it does not eat from your boob. And no matter how you got it, it did not come from your loins. It is not even remotely like a child in anything that it does, so don’t even try. Yes, your pet is cute, and might sometimes do something that seems like something a baby would do. But her baby is not like your pet. Even if it does crawl and do tricks. Just… no.
(Thank you, Sarah, especially for that last one, which cracked me up and made me go “FOR REAL??? Who does that?”)
So! What about you? What things that other people do have been most helpful to you after you’ve just had a baby, or what things annoy you the most? I hope this list is informative, for those of you that have no kids but have mom friends!