When a new child enters a home through birth or adoption, both joy and new stresses abound. As the family adjusts to the new addition, they are often surrounded by loved ones who share in their excitement. Too much of good thing though can add to the stress that naturally comes with change.
In order to bless the family as their little one (or not so little one) joins their home, here are a few ideas of things you might do and bring that will make your presence a welcome one.
First, call before you visit. Even better than calling the immediate family members directly is to call an extended family member or friend to ask for the best time to visit or item(s) to bring. Perhaps grandma lives close and can let you know when the family is most likely able to handle a visit. Maybe there is an online site managed by a friend or church member coordinating meals. Even though it may seem easier for you to just call the family directly, think about all of the changes that are going on in the house, particularly with a newborn. A barrage of phone calls even from the sweetest of individuals is not always something where time or energy can be expended.
When you do get the go ahead to visit, be on time. Naps, meals, other visitors, showers and other items may already be scheduled around the free times in the day. This can be especially important if you are delivering that day’s meal. And when you get there, plan to make the visit a short one. You are likely a welcomed and lovely face to those you are visiting, but again, energy and time are at a premium right now. Even just sitting to talk to a friend can be exhausting if you’re not sleeping well at night or struggling physically or emotionally with recovery.
Upon first entering the home, gently ask a few questions. Should you take your shoes off? Homes with young children commonly leave shoes at the door to reduce tracked in dirt and debris. Perhaps ask the sibling(s) if you may see their new little brother or sister with a wink to mom and dad. It can be tough to have all the attention of visitors directed to the newest addition when you’re the sibling. Ask if you may excuse yourself to the restroom to wash your hands if the new addition is a baby. This may give the parents some peace of mind as they don’t have to ask, especially during cold and flu seasons of the year.
If you would like to bring something to the new family, think beyond the typical baby gifts. Did the mom have a shower or perhaps many? If she did, she is likely well stocked on cute newborn clothes and small toys. Diapers never go unappreciated or unneeded. Even cloth diapering homes can use a few disposables from time to time. Gift certificates to stores that carry needed items allow the family to fill in where needed. A toy or book for a young sibling would likely also be well received. Also, think about the parents in terms of gifts when you visit. You’ve usually already given a “baby” gift at a shower. Gifts for mom can involve some indulgence or something to encourage relaxation (i.e. lavender neck wraps are amazing for easing stress and aches). Dad might like a little treat too – maybe his favorite beer would be nice.
When bringing food, this is an opportunity to be considerate and thoughtful too. Make sure you know the family’s likes and dislikes as well as any allergies. Dinners that can freeze well can be nice unless some meal coordination is occurring as often there is a great deal of food delivery initially and then not as much later. Easy to eat snacks are also a big hit. Nursing moms or families with other children can easily and quickly grab the prepackaged snacks you’ve put together. Small disposable storage containers with cheese cubes, grapes, and cubed deli meat is a quick treat. Gift certificates to local restaurants that deliver can also be a lifesaver.
Consider small tasks that you can do during your short visit. Replace the empty toilet paper roll and wipe down the sink with cleaning wipes you brought in your purse. Remember when you went to wash your hands when you first arrived? This is the perfect time to do this. On your way out, ask where their kitchen trash is and take it out for them. Don’t ask if you can take the trash out, just do it, unless it seems to make the family overly awkward. These are small tasks you can do that the family might be too polite to ask for or even say yes to when you ask.
You’re final “gift” to the family can be a smile or hug and a direct statement that you would rather that they read a book to the little one or take a nap instead or writing a thank you note. Let them know that letting you visit with them during this special time was thanks enough. You have now just taken one more tasks off of their shoulders. You will certainly be remembered for your kindness and your grace and likely easily welcomed back another time!
Are there other things you like to do or bring to a family with a new addition?
Beth Shout is currently a guest blogger at The List Llama, where she writes about food, family, simplifying, frugal and greener living. By trade, she’s a physical therapist. At home and in her free time, she enjoys a good cup of coffee, reading a book, playing with her 2 little boys, spending time with her husband, family and friends and cooking up a storm!
photo credit: en-shahdi via photopin cc