Accepting Help with a New Baby

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FishBaby is now no longer a baby. At two years of age, she is walking and talking and getting into all sorts of trouble. But, I well remember the joys and trials of bringing home a new little one. The last two years have flown by!

Today Lauren shares with us some suggestions for accepting help when you’ve got a new baby. To let others serve you is sometimes harder than you think.

A post from LifeasMOM contributor, Lauren from Mama’s Laundry Talk.

I am the first to admit: I have a really hard time asking for and especially accepting help.  I don’t struggle with control, but I do struggle with the thoughts of putting people out. I know others are busy and I don’t want to  inconvenience them.

However, I readily accept help with a new baby in the house. With a newborn, my own limitations are glaringly apparent to me and it is such a blessing when help comes my way!

Have you had trouble accepting help in those last few weeks of pregnancy? Or with a brand new little one in the house? If so, here are a few strategies that might work for you:

Have the family calendar visible for all to see.

Are people bringing you meals? Make sure to write those nights on the calendar. It gives you something to look forward to, and it lets the rest of the family know dinner plans.

Is someone taking your other children for a couple of days? Or transporting them back and forth to school? Make sure that goes on the calendar too. By writing it down for all to see, everyone is on the same page and knows the plan without mom repeating it multiple times.

It’s also a huge help to a new mom in that she doesn’t have to think about the schedule over and over. Those early days are filled with sleeplessness and the less brain power needed for planning the better!

Write down household tasks and your preferences regarding them.

If you have specific housekeeping methods that must be completed, write those down for your helpers to see.

If you are ultra-picky about how you wash your clothes, make a quick list of the items that must be washed carefully. Post it above your washing machine, or even on your laundry bulletin board so your instructions won’t be missed. Does your dishwasher only run on one setting? Make sure you tape instructions to the front so volunteer dish washers will know.

Is someone dropping your son off at basketball practice? Write down specific drop-off/pickup times and places so no one will have to guess at the last minute.

People want to do things as you usually do them. If you have time before  the baby comes, write down the tasks that must be done a certain way and make them visible for your helpers to see. Consider putting all instructions in one easily visible place such as in a master binder or taped to the front of the refrigerator. Your volunteers will be grateful!

Be willing to ‘bend’ a little.

It is hard for some moms to accept help from others because they are so used to doing things themselves or they really like their own methods best.  For the first time mother, it is hard to realize you really can’t do it all.

Whether it is your own mother, mother in law, sister or family friend, be willing to ‘bend’ on your standards for a little while. It is okay if the older kids don’t make it to bed until 7:45 and their bedtime is 7:30 sharp. And life will go on if the dishes aren’t stacked in the dish drain in the method you usually use.

I speak from experience: a willingness to be flexible and go with the flow is so much easier than being uptight and anxious because others aren’t doing your duties as you usually would. Anxiety of any reason makes those newborn days harder than they should be.

Let your friends and family enjoy the days with you.

My mother has a fabulous (and convicting!) phrase that she says to me often: “Don’t rob me of my joy!”

I really have to remember that when it comes to accepting help. Other people want to bless you and minister to you, whether through meals or housecleaning or helping with older siblings. I really think that people are looking for tangible ways to help you when you have a new sweet one at home.

Don’t rob them of their joy, and happily invite them right on in!

— Lauren Hill is the ‘Mama’ behind Mama’s Laundry Talk and is eagerly expecting the birth of her fourth little one.

What’s been YOUR experience in accepting or offering help?

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  1. This was a great article. I am a brand new mother of a one month old, and my husband just recently went back to work. We live with his parents for the time being, and have to admit that although having the option of having help in the room next door, I still have a hard time accepting or asking for help. This morning for example the baby was fussy, and I trying to balance feeding the baby, pumping breast milk, changing a poopie diaper (for the fifth time) and trying to calm her from howling, was unbelievably overwhelming. But old habits die hard, and I was adamant about not wanting help from my, sometimes very invasive and controlling, mother in law. But, it wasn’t until I handed the baby over, and actually relaxed for two minutes did I realize, that my daughter was probably crying because she was feeding off the tension she felt from me. I am learning to come to terms with the fact that although my daughter is 100% mine and my husband’s responsibility, babies need love and patience. Sometimes more patience then one mother can dish out at a single time, and I am realizing that if my in laws can do the same (feeding, rocking, singing) as I can, with refreshed patience and without doing it through gritted teeth it’s okay to accept that help. It’s healthier for both myself and my daughter.

    1. You’re a wise woman. Your daughter is blessed.

      And interesting food for thought: my mom and mother-in-law both said that having grandkids was more exciting to them than having us. I think because they do have that refreshed patience to enjoy it now. So, while you are being blessed by her help, I’m going to guess that you’re blessing her, too, with the opportunity to enjoy her grandbaby.

  2. I found it most helpful to have someone organize a meal delivery for several weeks, but about every other night. My playgroup was wonderful at doing this, our church however, didn’t really do anything, which was disappointing as I am a pastor’s wife.

  3. Very timely post for me. We are expecting our 6th baby this November and it will be our first time to “go it alone” so to speak without any of my relatives staying at our house for the first week.

    I really don’t like asking for help and feel very guilty when I don’t have a choice.

    We are not sure how it is going to look, but are hoping that our church family, along with the meals they always provide us with, will sign up to stay two hours or so in the afternoon to hold the baby and watch the older ones while I get a nap before the “night-time crunch” sets in with the newborn.

    Hopefully a lot of people will want to “feel the joy” in our case. Thank you for the encouragement to let others help.

    1. @Polly,

      I have trouble with the guilt too ;). I pray your church family signs up in droves to help with your new little one!

      Congratulations on your new little one!


  4. I have gone to an expecting Mom’s house and helped her put somewhere 20-30 meals into the freezer. It took the morning and kids played together and we got to visit while we worked. We both enjoyed it and I knew it would be huge blessing post-baby.

  5. This was harder than I thought! It was the hardest with my in-laws who often seem to mix help in with a dash of criticism. As my son has gotten older and I have another one on the way though I must be getting desperate because I don’t hear the criticism as much but gladly take the help!

  6. I have two boys (16 and 2) and the youngest came 2 weeks early. Needless to say, we weren’t ready for him! It was Labor Day weekend (how fitting) and I was planning to spend the 3 day weekend cleaning and doing the other last minute things you do with a baby on the way. Long story short- I got nothing done because I ended up having him on Saturday. My mom and sister cleaned my house (even washed my living room curtains!) and both grandmas were a huge help over the next two weeks. I gladly accepted any and all help. My stress was eased and I know it helped me recover quicker because I was well rested.

    I try to help parents of newborns with a meal at the very least. Most of my close friends are done having kids so I haven’t had much of a chance to offer help…but I have a SIL who hasn’t started her family yet and I’m hoping I can do alot for her when that time comes.

  7. i love this household checklist is it printable or is it somewhere we can print it? i would so use it!!!

  8. I feel the same way. I don’t mind giving up control in this area, but I really don’t want to put anyone out, so I won’t ask. I have the benefit of having both sets of grandparents within 10 minutes of me and I still will rarely ask for help. But after my second was born, those first few weeks, I really felt at ease letting family and friends inside my “bubble” and take my oldest out for dates and bringing me meals! And it was a blessing to see those who I haven’t seen for some time, want to be involved and help!