10 Practical Helps For A Mom With A Newborn and Older Children

10 Practical Helps For A Mom With A Newborn And Older Children | thisgratefulmama.com

In the past 2 months since our third child was born, we have gratefully received help from family, neighbors and friends. Help from others has been key to helping our family adjust and survive.

You guys, we have been so blessed!

I’d like to share 10 of my favorite ways people have helped our family. Every new mama and her family deserves to be blessed as we have been!

10 Practical HELPS For A Mom With A Newborn AND Older Children

10 Practical Ways To Help A Mom With A Newborn and Other Children

  1. Bring Food – Bringing a meal is a great way to bless the whole family. Not a great cook? It doesn’t have to be fancy, and it doesn’t have to be dinner. You could bring muffins or donuts for breakfast, sandwiches and soup for lunch, fresh fruit and veggies for healthy snacks, or dinner. ALL will be appreciated and helpful. Remember to ask if the family has any food allergies before you shop.
  2. Do Chores – Ask if you help around the house. Don’t take ‘No’ for an answer! A new mom’s brain is focused on her baby and family, not housework! If nothing comes to mind, find something to do before you leave – empty the dishwasher, wash dishes, sweep or mop the floor, clean a bathroom, take out the trash, water the flowers, fold laundry, or mow the lawn.
  3. Bless Older Children – Obviously baby requires a lot of mom’s attention that used to be spent on other children. This is an adjustment for older kids, and can leave any mama feeling guilty. One of the best ways to bless mom is to bless her children – play with them, take them on a walk, to the park, or out to lunch. The kids will soak up the love and attention. Another way to help is to lend a helping hand at dinner or bedtime (or both!). Babies are often fussy in the evenings and when mom is often in the most demand from other children.
  4. Help Run Errands – A baby car seat in the shopping cart really hinders what can fit in the cart. If mom can’t fit it all, she’ll have to do multiple trips per week, or struggle to pull a cart while she pushes the stroller. Offer to go to the store with her and push an extra cart. Then, help unload and put away groceries while she feeds the baby. Or, ask if you can run an errand for them.
  5. Babysit for Doctor Visits – Taking older, healthy children to the pediatrician’s germ infested office for a healthy baby visit is almost guaranteed to produce a sick child within the week. Offer to watch older children for an hour while mom and baby go alone to the doctor.
  6. Pray – Prayer for the new mom and family is a gift with eternal value. Pray for a peaceful baby and household, for mom to heal quickly and fully after delivery, for baby to eat well, and for the whole family to adjust quickly. Oh, and for sleep. Lots of sleep. The family may never know you are praying if you don’t tell them, so bless them even more by letting them know you are faithfully lifting them up.
  7. Listen – Instead of jumping in with advice, just listen. Advice may be appropriate, but often, a new mom just wants to be heard – to know that someone else knows what they are going through. Don’t assume you know what they mean by things like ‘the baby never sleeps’ or ‘cries all day’. Ask questions to really understand so you can respond appropriately. Sometimes a new mom does needs advice, but some times they just need a hug or other practical helps.
  8. Encourage – After listening, share what you see they are doing well. If you know they are struggling, send a text message or email. Call them often, whether they call you back or not. Tell them you are proud of them, cheering them on, and praying for them. My favorite words of encouragement have come recently via text.  Family and family have told me they were praying for me, and have shared scripture to encourage me. Words are powerful!
  9. Extend Extra GraceWhen they don’t call, text or email back, be ok with it. They are tired, busy and you aren’t being singled out. If they are like me, they are investing in their older children or husband when they have a free moment. Rest assured, normal communication will resume once they get their feet underneath them again. Oh, and some sleep. Zombies can’t carry on coherent phone conversations. Be gracious, and don’t give up on them.
  10. Car Pool – If your children are in the same activities, offer to give them a ride to and from so the parents can have a little break. OR, offer to go with the family and help load the kids in the car. Cheering for the kids will give them a boost and mom will appreciate the company and help with logistics.

 

Now…go find a new mama to bless. She will be oh, so grateful.

What is your go-to way to help a new mom?

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Infant Silent Reflux Is Not Silent – 10 Survival Tips for Parents When Your Child Does NOT Sleep

Infant Silent Reflux Is Not Silent - 10 Survival Tips for Parents When Your Child Does NOT Sleep | thisgratefulmama.com

There are infants who sleep through the night right away, or even within a few months of bringing them home from the hospital.

We were not that family.

Read more about our experience with infant reflux:

As I’ve shared before, our firstborn had silent reflux. Acid burning, pain abounding…heartburn. In our experience, reflux is worse at night, and greatly affected his and our sleep.

When many parents say they had a hard night, it means the child was up a few times, perhaps staying awake for a (whole) hour, or that perhaps they were up at 4 am for the day. Let me be clear that I am not diminishing how this feels in the morning – tired is tired! But I think it is fairly safe to say most babies and parents manage one solid 2-4 hour stretch of sleep per night, most nights. They are tired, but are usually functional the next day.

When I say we had hard nights, I mean that most nights, he did not sleep. There were 3-5 hours stretches of crying and discomfort followed by a 40-minute nap. But even this short stretch was interrupted by writhing and painful screams.Then we repeated the crying and short nap, or he was up for the day. He did not sleep a 3-hour stretch until 10 months.

As his nursing mama, neither did I. And often, neither did my husband.

We tried everything. We held him, we tried walking, co-sleeping, swinging, bouncing, singing. In desperation we tried crying it out but it was short-lived and agonizing for mom and baby  – a hurting baby cannot self-soothe, nor should he have to.

Nothing worked.

We spoke to doctors, lactation specialists, other parents and read books, articles and blogs by sleep consultants. There were many great tips, but none helped our son sleep.

If you think that sleep-deprivation is hard on your body and mind, imagine how it affects a baby – they are supposed to sleep twice as much as we are!

He, and we were exhausted – a term I no longer use lightly.

After 10 months, his sleep ebbed and flowed along with his silent reflux symptoms until FINALLY at 15 months, he slept through the night. This too came and went, but his sleep generally improved so MOST nights were silent nights.

That is, until the reflux returned with vengeance when he was 2 1/2 and I was 7 months pregnant with our second baby. Then his sleep success derailed and we recognized old patterns of returning pain and chronic coughing. This was no sleep ‘regression’. It was sleep succession. But we will save the story of toddler reflux for another day…

Because our sleep experience was a struggle, my goal is to share how to survive – to endure, to wait for healing, and to do everything in your power to encourage sleep. But more importantly, my goal is to empathize, and encourage parents that sleep does come, even if not right away.

10 Survival Tips for Parents – When Your Child Does NOT Sleep

1. Schedule YOUR sleep

While parents may not need as much sleep as a newborn, they do need consistent sleep. When your child doesn’t sleep, sleeping when the baby sleep doesn’t work. Consistent sleep-deprivation has consequences. Parents need to make their own sleep a priority. Be creative. When our son was young, I worked. Some days I went home and slept for 2 hours before picking our son up from daycare. OR, I’d work a few longer days, and take off early on a slow day and sleep for (gasp) 3 hours! If you don’t have daycare as an option, read on…

2. Enlist help

While not all parents have volunteers to stay up at night with the baby so the parents can sleep, most have someone who will come during the day. Ask for help. And accept it when it is offered. Don’t be prideful. Don’t shrug it off. Sleep is necessary and important. Ask them to come over and snuggle your child. Be sure they understand your child might cry the whole time. Our son’s grandparents, aunts and uncles and our close friends were willing. We weren’t good at asking.

3. Be transparent

Nothing good will come from pretending everything is fine. Don’t sugar coat what is going on. While there is a fine line between explaining the facts and complaining, if you aren’t truthful and transparent, your sleep-less existence will be lonely, and without help. And, others will not understand why you suddenly traded your social life for sleep.

4. Request advice from professionals

Assuming you are already navigating reflux treatment, don’t neglect to see lack of sleep as a symptom that needs to be addressed. When sleep is this difficult, more than just a pediatrician may be needed. Request a consult with a GI doctor, ask for a sleep study, or meet with an occupational or sleep therapist.

5. Try new strategies

I cannot advocate the ‘cry it out’ method because we learned that a hurting baby cannot self-soothe. They hurt and need help. However, there are many other great options to try. It is a good idea to try different sleep positions, but instead of buying a bunch of rockers, swings, crib wedges or chairs, borrow them. Research them. We used a Nap Nanny (no longer sold, but this Dex DayDreamer™ Infant Sleeper is today’s equivalent product) with an angled back to help with reflux. It was the only place our son ever slept at all for most of the first year. Please note: the most important comment on these sleepers is to never place them in a crib. They are intended to use on the floor for baby’s safety. 

6. Join a support group

Did you know there are GERD support groups all over the world? You can find the Reflux Rebels or Reflux Support Group on Facebook. The Facebook groups are generally closed, which means only group members can see your posts. You will find people struggling with the same issues, encouragement, and wise advice from real-life experience.

7. Don’t wake the baby

If your baby does not sleep, DO NOT interrupt sleep for any reason. The theory that sleep begets sleep is true in our experience. There is no event more important than your child’s sleep if they NEVER sleep. Do your best to set conditions for sleep and then protect that schedule. If that means leaving early, coming late, or not attending something, SO BE IT.

8. Pray

The best comfort I found during this time was prayer. And scripture. It is no surprise to God that you are tired or struggling. He sees your child and He sees you. Let Him carry you, and trust that He will bring both healing and sleep in His time. AND, know that your struggle has purpose, even if you cannot see it yet. Trust His plan, purpose and promise that He is working in all things for good of those who love Him…

9. Hang on to hope

Our son struggled for much longer than we wanted him to. And there were days we thought he would never, ever sleep through the night. But he did. And now he sleeps hard, and well. Eventually, even your child will too.

10. Know you are not alone

Other moms have endured what you are enduring. Find them. They won’t waste your time with advice that won’t work, they’ll instead spend their time listening and encouraging. They will understand that not all problems can be fixed with a book, herbal remedy, fancy swing or sleep-training method and they will remind you that some problems  have to resolve with time.

Survival Tips For Parents When Your Child Does NOT Sleep | thisgratefulmama.com

The New Mama Blessing Jar

New Mama Blessings Jar | thisgratefulmama.com

Today is the long-anticipated day.

My most dear friend, in all the world, is having her first baby. It makes me so happy I think my heart might POP!

Today.

Right now – well, I hope right NOW…but these things sometimes take time…

Upon hearing she and her husband were heading to the hospital last night, I got so excited. I’m amazed I even slept a wink, but am glad I did. In fact, I’ve been SO excited, I can’t sit, stand, or well, BE still. Lucky for me, I had a meal to make and bring to another special family who has also recently had their FOURTH baby (Amazing!).

It is good that I had something productive to keep me busy (kids are napping/or at preschool)! However, I finished the meal this morning so on the way to preschool, the kids and I stopped to pick up a few items to make some small gifts for the new mamas in our lives.

Whether it is your first time, or fourth time, being a new mama is a BIG job. You are in demand, yet you also have the great privilege of soaking up every single newborn baby sigh and snuggle.

With my extra energy and time (well, kind of free-time, I was too distracted to do much else), I thought I’d make a couple of gift jars. I made two. One went with the meal to our friends this afternoon and I the other will be shipped to my other friend along with a couple other small things I’ve been saving for this very momentous day.

The idea for a New Mama Blessing Jar started when I stumbled across cute scripture cards on the ThrivingHomeBlog.

The New Mama Blessings Jar | thisgratefulmama.com The New Mama Blessings Jar | thisgratefulmama.com

The downloadable PDF file gives 25 scripture verses surrounded by playful colors and patterns. They are cleverly titled “On the Job Meditations-25 Verse Cards For Moms“. I’m a believer that God’s word is much better that any I can come up with – what better gift than to give scripture to encourage a new mama?

My husband and I have been eating Mason Jar salads at lunch for a few weeks. I bought a case of mason jars when we started, so as I was packing our lunches for tomorrow, I noticed how the scripture cards would fit perfectly in a jar. The idea took off from there. The great thing about a jar is you can fill it with all kinds of little things that can bless a new mama, without going overboard, and every jar you make could be different and suited to the friend you give it to.

New Mama Blessing Jar Contents:

  • Dark Chocolate bar – Trader Joes (lower on sugar, and great for just a little treat)
  • Milk Chocolate Caramel Ghirardelli  squares – who wouldn’t want one?
  • Turkey sausage stick – Target (a little protein for a nursing mama)
  • Decaf Good Earth Tea – warm and relaxing
  • Dry Shampoo – if you haven’t used dry shampoo, you are missing out on a huge time-saver. Every new mama needs some, trust me. This way you can quickly freshen up when on the run, overslept, or hardly slept. Rockstar Dry shampoo is my favorite travel size you can get at Target. At just under $3, it lasted a long time, and worked great
  • Mints – see dry shampoo – quickly freshen up your breath when someone unexpectedly rings your doorbell
  • Chapstick – when you need it you need it, take it from an addict. Usually you’re holding a sleeping baby or nursing and can’t reach one when you realize your lips are dry. An extra one nearby is just a good idea
  • Gift Card – because the baby deserves something too, just for being born (but the mama can use it for herself if she wants to)

Thankfully, everything fit in the jar. It just needed a label or something to make it fun. I made a label for the jar and a contents list:

The New Mama Blessings Jar | thisgratefulmama.comThe New Mama Blessings Jar | thisgratefulmama.com

Then it was time to seal it up, and give it away – preferably with a meal (because when someone has a baby, YOU bring them food).

If the contents of these jars doesn’t suit your needs, other ideas to customize your own New Mama Blessing Jar include: small packs of nuts or crackers, hard candy, WISP disposable tooth brushes, travels tissues, hand lotion, twizzlers, nail file and polish, hair bands, and more…

What is your go-to gift for new mamas?