Mama Miller Parenting

Passionate parenting and homemaking.

The Field Guide to Visiting a New Veteran Mom

on August 8, 2013

As I approach the due date of my third little one I have been thinking a lot about the ins and outs of managing a house with a four year old, a two year old, and a newborn. I will gladly admit, I’m terrified. Part of me thinks, “I got this,” and part of me wants to run. Any number of kids is a lot of kids! All new parents (whether their first or second or fourteenth) have their hands full. Adjusting to new little person is hard.

I recently read a guest blog authored by my friend at How to Ruin A Toddler’s Day on Modern Man of the Cloth‘s page. It was a wonderfully written post about what new dads can do to help their new moms. It got us thinking about collaborating on a guide for visitors. Everyone wants to see the new baby and everyone wants to help, but not everyone really knows what a new mom needs.

This is a two part post. You can find “The Field Guide for Visiting a New First Time Mom” here on How to Ruin a Toddler’s day. As a mom of one beautiful toddler, her perspective on being a first time mom is a little fresher than mine.

This post will address the special needs/requests of a veteran mom of a new baby. It is from personal experience and poling other veteran mamas.

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1. Call first. When visiting a veteran mom in the hospital or at her home during those first few weeks, always always call. If you just drop by, you will probably find a frazzled bra-less mom in pajamas. If you stop by during one of the rare times she gets a nap, you will likely find a frazzled bra-less grumpy T-rex in pajamas.

2. When you call, ask if she needs anything. The answer is probably yes, and it probably involves food or toilet paper or extra absorbancy maxi pads.

3. Bring food. Single serving freezer meals, muffins, and healthy snacks/fruit are all pluses. Breastfeeding takes a lot of calories. Recovering from birth in general takes fuel. The other kids in the house require feeding too. (Most moms do not want the other little people in the house hopped up on sugary snacks… but you can sneak some chocolate or ice cream in there for mom.)

4. If you bring something for baby, do so discreetly or also bring something for the other kids. Adjusting to a new sibling can be difficult for older kids, especially those who were just ousted from the position of youngest. Constant attention and gifts for the new baby don’t help the older kiddos warm to the idea of being a big sibling. Small things to keep them busy (a new toy, book, or movie) are great. (Make sure the toys/activities don’t require a lot of extra help from mom and dad. Read- Batteries included, no assembly required…)

5. Play with the older children… or better yet- TAKE THEM! Spending time with older kids so mom can focus on baby is a huge help. Taking them away for a play date somewhere, anywhere, is even better. It will take a load off mom and give the kids some much needed extra attention.

6. Wash your hands. It may seem small, but even veteran moms are still concerned with germs. We already have little grimy hands in the house to worry about. Washing your hands before holding the baby (and helping the toddler wash their hands) is great. And if you are sick- fuggedaboutit. Just wait it out. Mom doesn’t need a small needy army of sickies along with a new baby. The baby will still be cute when you feel better. Possibly even cuter. (New babies may take a bit to shrug off the baby monkey look and settle into their cuteness.)

7. Be sensitive to a breastfeeding mom. If mom is nursing, pay attention to her cues and assume she wants privacy. It can be hard to get the hang of and she may need calm and quiet to get that milk going. Other times a veteran mom may have lost her sense of modesty when it comes to nursing. If you are uncomfortable- come back later, look away, or keep the older kids busy for a bit. (Personally, you can either come back, or deal with the fact that I’m feeding the baby. I had such a hard time with my first, that I will now put nursing above making others comfortable- especially in my own home.)

8. Help with basic chores! A house with more than one child will often look like ground zero of a major explosion. If mom feels comfortable with it, offer to help with basic chores. Running a load of dishes, sweeping, helping older kids pick up toys, etc. (I don’t personally like help with laundry. I want to keep my postpartum granny panties and the size of my yoga pants to myself. Tread carefully on that one.)

9. Keep visits short. You want to see the baby and hold the baby. We get that, but keep it brief. Unless you are staying to help with older kids, dinner, or cleaning- please keep it short and don’t expect to be entertained.

10. Keep opinions to yourself. Postpartum is a rough time for many all moms. Whether she is breast or bottle feeding, cloth diapering or using disposables, Baby Wising or Attachment Parenting, had an all natural water birth or her third c-section is none of your business. Yes, I said it. It just isn’t. Don’t go there. If she specifically asks you for advice, give concise non-judgmental answers. You don’t know if she is dealing with postpartum depression or if she has already heard it a million times. Unsolicited advice is overwhelming for a first time mom and often times annoying for a veteran mom.

11. Ask mom and dad how they are doing. Just because it isn’t their first rodeo doesn’t mean they don’t need or want help. Adjusting to number 2 is just as overwhelming as being a first timer. The baby may be cute, but it is still a lot of work. Showing you see them as more than “one who brings cute baby” is important.

12. Respect her spaces. Bedrooms and private bathrooms are off limits. Natural or c-section, she will have things for her personal care that you just don’t need to see. If someone is in the main bathroom, wait. Do not go seeking out her separate bathroom. If it is a one bathroom house, try to hold it until you leave or ask her if it is ok for you to use. She may want to go put a few things away before you go in there.

13. Did I mention bringing food and taking kids for a while? Seriously, more food and less kids. So very very helpful. (Also good for a mom pregnant with her second or any subsequent baby. Just saying…)

I hope this helps as you navigate the ins and outs of visiting new veteran moms. If you are expecting, you can subtly forward this to your family and friends. ๐Ÿ˜‰

***Again, make sure you check out The Field Guide to Visiting a New First Time Mom on How to Ruin a Toddler’s Day! She has a hilariously awesome take on visiting a first time mom!

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39 responses to “The Field Guide to Visiting a New Veteran Mom

  1. […] Be sure you pop over to read her take on things here: “The Field Guide to Visiting a New, Veteran Mom“. […]

  2. I had so much fun collaborating with you on this!

  3. I so agree on number 4! It was hard seeing our first born looking at the stuff that the new baby was getting. I had to hug him, It’s a good thing he is such a generous kid and thinks about his sister first before his own that he was even willing to give some of his toys to the baby. But still.

  4. This is so great! We’re about to have our 4th, and these are so spot on! I especially love “Showing you see them as more than โ€œone who brings cute babyโ€ is important.” It doesn’t help our PPD when WE’VE gone from being fawned over 24/7 to being virtually ignored for the new baby.

  5. gdemarco89 says:

    This is awesome! I am pregnant with my second, and I especially love the advice about giving the older kids attention and maybe small gifts. I know my daughter will have a tough time with the new baby being the center of attention and anyone who does this for her will be greatly appreciated!

  6. lynnc2010 says:

    number 4!!! I wish more people did this. I bought gifts for the boys from Zoey when I had her, and one for Alex when I had Nick. When I had Nick people were always bringing things for him and forgetting about Alex. This time around, I hid a basket of toys in the closet so I could give the boys something new when people brought gifts. It’s a balancing act, and I hated when people assumed that since I had more then one child I knew what I was doing and didn’t need the extra help! Loved both articles!

  7. Winding road says:

    Taking the kid is huge for 2nd timers!!:) great post!

  8. Valerie says:

    Wow, these are all spot-on!! Love the collaboration idea! ๐Ÿ˜€ Playing/taking older child(ren) is the best one, I think. There is so much going on physically and emotionally with mom, that it can be lovely to have someone providing entertainment for the kids. Well done!

  9. So much fun reading this!!! Soooooo many good points too – I think a new mum should just tape this to her front door as a point of reference for any visitors ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. All brilliant ideas. Should be printed out and distributed to all family and friends of new or veteran mums. With a smile, of course. ๐Ÿ™‚ x

  11. Rose says:

    Absolutely brilliant. Someone should have printed this list off and given it to all our relatives BOTH times we had a newborn!!

  12. Rose says:

    PS Congratulations on your imminent 3rd arrival – so exciting and I soooo want to be doing exactly that!

  13. mamacita says:

    Great post. For baby number 3 had a list stuck onto kitchen cupboard entitled “things people can do to help” and a looooong list of possibilities…! I made so many lists during pregnancy as a way of receiving my brain in the postpartum!!

  14. Ricki says:

    OMG I can’t decide which suggestion I agree with more, so I’m just going to go with all of them! For the laundry thing, I think it depends on the person helping…there are some people that I really don’t care if they see, touch, fold those things and know the sizes of them, and there are some that I absolutely do not want any where near them.

    I had never thought of the bringing food thing, but it’s a really good idea.

    I don’t currently have any kids so I (and those I might be visiting) really appreciate these suggestions.

    Thanks for sharing at The Blog Strut Peacock Style

    • Food is a better gift than flowers! It is so hard to find time for grocery shopping and cooking during those first few days/weeks. And a new mom needs more than fast food to recover.

      I’m loving the Blog Struts! I’ll (hopefully) be checking out more of the links this weekend. Thank you for stopping by!

  15. […] Tips for friends and family of a new (veteran) mom. How to visit and how to help. […]

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