When I was pregnant with my oldest son and my husband was on deployment, everyone said "Let me know if you need any help when the baby comes" and I smiled and said, "Thanks! I will!" But I didn’t. I didn’t know how to ask for what I needed because, with my first son, I didn’t know what I needed. With my second son, it seemed like I should be experienced enough to handle everything on my own. But being home with a newborn—or even more challenging, a newborn and a toddler—and an endless list of things to do was exhausting. I really wish I’d asked for the help that was offered.
Whether this is your first or fourth baby, the next time a friend or family member says, “Let me know what I can do to help you after you have the baby,” promise them (and yourself) you’ll take them up on their offer. Here are some ideas if you’re like me and need help asking for help:
1. Put money ($20 to $50) for grocery and pharmacy necessities in a few envelopes. If you’re running low on a few things, give an envelope to one of your supporters and ask them to pick up what you need.
The time you save not having to go to and from the store with a newborn will be better spent resting at home.
It takes a village to raise a child, but the villagers need some directions.
2. Request a favorite signature dish from your friends and family.
If you love Aunt Edna’s pot roast or your next door neighbor’s lasagna, ask them to make it for you and bring it over. Hearty, healthy, multi-serving meals will go a long way to making your life a little easier and will make someone feel special because you’ve asked for something only they can make.
3. Keep a list of errands you need to run on hand so that when someone tells you they’re going to be near one of your errand spots, they can run it for you.
This works especially well for people who live close and travel the same roads as you do. It doesn’t take much extra effort for someone to pop into the store next door to wherever they’re already going—and it will save you time and energy.
4. When someone stops in to visit you and the baby, ask them to take your car and fill up your gas tank.
You’ll appreciate this simple chore being done for you, especially if the weather is particularly hot or cold.
5. If you have older kids, ask a friend to take them to the park or zoo while you stay home with the baby.
The kids will appreciate getting out of the house and you’ll appreciate the quiet to spend with the baby. Likewise, if you have a dog who would appreciate a long walk, ask!
6. Speaking of people stopping by after the baby is born: Instead of feeling like you need to play hostess, ask if they will watch the baby for 30 minutes or an hour while you take a shower or get a quick nap.
Of course, if you’re craving adult interaction more than clean hair, you can simply ask them to hold the baby while you put your feet up and enjoy a few baby-free minutes.
7. If you’re not comfortable asking friends to do yard work, ask them to suggest any teenagers in the neighborhood who might be amenable to making a few bucks.
Save your strength and let someone else pull your weeds or mow your lawn (or shovel the snow off your deck—a task I stupidly took on two weeks after a C-section).
Whatever you need, whatever feels too overwhelming for you right now, ask for help! Remember: It takes a village to raise a child, but the villagers need some directions.