As a quick side-note before I get started on the list of things to say and do for young moms, I wanted to say one quick thing in response to something my hubby said about the tone of the blog. On his way home the day I put that post up he said, “So it’s been a rough day, huh?” Tone and intent can be a hard thing to read. Some times being direct can come across rude. And sarcasm can be completely misinterpreted. So I want to be clear about my intended attitude: I was not ranting. I was not venting. I was not even bitter or angry. I really wasn’t. I might have been any or all of those emotions when those things happened. But I wasn’t when I wrote the post (that was important to me). And I know for most all of you out there that read it and re-shared it to your friends, you feel the same way. You get it.
So this part needs to be heard above any item on the list:
We know you, those that were meaning to be helpful, truly mean well. We really do. We know you want to relate and that’s why you share. We know you know you’ve been there and done that and we really do want to learn from you. And we know that you have that same Mama gene that all women, with and without kids, have: we want to help. Sometimes our help isn’t helpful.
More times than not, your help really is even more helpful than you realize.
So here is another list...
This is a list of some of the things I’ve personally experienced or heard of others experiencing that has blessed us in more ways that the giver could imagine.
Tell us what good moms we are. Tell us often. Tell us specifically. This one is the biggest of all of them. We struggle with mama guilt and insecurity in the worst way. Help us to see what we are doing well.
Put together a group of people to bring us meals when that baby comes. Gather the list before the baby comes. And encourage those people to go above and beyond when they drop off a meal. Examples: add in some breakfast items, healthy snacks, toilet paper, bring all disposable items (disposable casserole dish, paper plates, etc.).
Come over to hold the baby and play with the bigs so Mama can get a hot shower, fix her hair pretty and, maybe even, get out of the house for a bit.
Encourage us to let ourselves off the hook of having a spotless house. Tell us often that a messy house (or, as I like to say, a “lived in house”) is a sign of happy kids and a Mom who is playing with her kids.
Pay for a maid to come clean our house. I have one friend whose mother-in-law pays for a maid the last trimester of the pregnancy and also the first 3 months after baby is born. If you are strapped for cash and you are close enough to the mom, go and clean their house for them. (Some may feel uncomfortable with this.)
When you give us a gift (and thank you so much for your generosity) tell us right then and there, no thank you cards allowed. We know it only takes a minute, and know we’ve thought about it 1,000 times, but it isn’t (and shouldn’t be) at the top of our list.
Celebrate every milestone our kids make and point out the ones we miss. So often we worry about what our kids aren’t doing that we miss what they are doing. Help us to see what they are doing and help us to see how we helped get them there.
When we are worried about our kid being behind (whether it is rational or irrational), tell us we aren’t crazy and our kid really will be fine. My mom’s favorite thing to tell me is, “Becky, she will have ______ down by the time she goes to kindergarten.”
Come babysit or pay for a babysitter so Mom & Dad can have a date night! Even if it’s just a quick dinner, we need time alone with our men!
Adore away! Please ooh and ahh over our little ones. It never once gets old.
When you come to visit the new baby, pay attention to the older sibling first. And even bring them a big sibling treat (the dollar aisle is a great place to find something fun and cheap).
Leave us Starbucks on our porch. Find out what our favorite drink is, go pick and up and leave it on the porch. Then text or call that it’s out there. Or come on in, we'd love some grown up talk time!
If we are sharing what a bad day we’ve had on Facebook, text us and say you are having pizza delivered to our house. Give us no option about it.
Help us feel included in the things we miss. If it’s a party, bring us a left over slice of cake. If it’s church, bring us the notes. If it’s a hangout, text a pic and say we were missed.
Text often. When you feel holed away there is nothing like contact from the outside world (wink). Check in with the young Mamas that are having to stay home with a newborn.
Help us give ourselves grace-- tell us as often as you can, “Don’t worry about it! Give yourself some grace!” We are hardest on ourselves. We see our failures bigger and brighter than others possible could. Help us to let go of that.
Encourage us to get out of the house and get active. Instead of meeting for lunch, suggest we meet at a park and go for a walk. We want so bad to get active but just aren’t sure how that fits into our new schedule or where and how to begin.
Text us verses and quotes of encouragement. Or anything funny. Laughter is so good for the soul and sleep deprived.
Give Mom a chance to have some alone time with the older siblings. Offer for them to drop the younger ones off or come watch them. It’s so important for that mom to still feel like they are connecting with the ones that had all their attention before baby came.
Tell us we look beautiful. When we make that face because we can feel that pizza dough roll around our midsections squeezed into our pants, tell us again. Compliment something specific. If we still make that face or say something about how sick we are of feeling fat, tell us again that we are beautiful, and remind us that it takes time for the baby weight to go away, it our battle wounds.
When you come to see us, especially in those early weeks, don’t look amazing. Come dressed in sweats without your hair perfect and make up done. It’s fine if you do come dressed up (we know you have other things to do that day). But if you have the choice, don’t get dressed up. We already feel embarrassed that we haven't showered in 3 days and we just can’t think rationally yet that it’s OK and we don’t need to be jealous.
Give us permission to call or text at any time to just share the hard moments. Tell us there will never be judgement when we share or advice unless asked for.
When we do ask for advice, please be honest. We really do want your help. We really are just guessing at most of this. We are doing the best we can. But we do want and need your help!
Listen to our boundaries and what we say about our kids. We know them better than anyone else. We may not be doing it right or you may think it could be done different/better. But this is what we’ve decided for our kids. Please respect that. Honor what we’ve decided to do in raising our kids.
When you see us disciplining in public, feel free to smile at us and say, “Good job Mama! You are loving your kids well!”
When you see us a restaurant and our kids are crazy but you can tell we are doing the best we can, and if you have some wiggle room in your bank account, ask the waiter for our bill and pay it anonymously and tell them to simply say, “Tell that family they are doing a great job loving their kids.”
If we are struggling with breastfeeding, ask how you can help. Remind us how hard it is and that it isn’t as natural as others make it out to be. Offer to contact a lactation consultant (Le Leche League offers free support). Bring us Fenugreek supplements, mother’s milk tea and a new water bottle.
If we have to or choose to stop breastfeeding for whatever reason, tell us our baby will be ok. Remind us of all the perfectly healthy and genius kids that have been formula fed.
...really I could go on and on. But I'll stop here. Why don't you share this post and add a few more things to the list when you do share it. More than we want to vent about the negative we want to encourage the positive!
If you missed the first post, check it out here: