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 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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Hands FULL. My Cup Runneth Over

Well hello there. Wonder where I’ve been these past months?

On May 11, 2016 at 12:34 pm, we were blessed by the arrival of our daughter Audra Grace at 7 pounds 9 ounces.

Audra Grace

To say things have been busy…is an understatement. In fact, I don’t have time to be writing this now, but my soul and my brain are in serious need of writing therapy.

While I expected an adjustment period, I was unprepared for what a third child adds to the mix. Our hands are FULL.

One month in, I was just starting to get used to three children. We started getting out of the house on time, and figured out how to grocery shop with a baby and toddler in the cart, and 5 year old in tow…

But when silent reflux showed up at 4 weeks, it threw me for a loop and I’m still playing catch-up.

Many days are a blur. In some ways it seems like we’ve had this baby forever, and in other ways I feel like I blinked and she’s 7 weeks old.

How can that be? The newborn period is so very short.

My hands are literally FULL. Most everything is done with one hand. The other is holding a baby… shopping, cooking, cleaning, reading to the kids while they hold the book…

At times I feel like everyone needs a piece of me, and there aren’t enough pieces to go around.

I feel worn out, and fear I am not giving the older two enough attention. I am grateful  as they throw their arms around me without judgement or resentment. But as my 3 year old snuggles in with me at night and says, “I need you, I miss you”, I feel the pang of mama-guilt mixed with the joy of being loved unconditionally by our children.

And so we snuggle tighter, and a little longer.

Despite challenges, what I see looking back on the past 7 weeks is  an abundance of blessings.

A big brother and big sister falling in love with their baby sister is one of the most precious things I have ever witnessed. I love how they are ready and willing to help grab diapers, pacifiers, and burp rags, or to just sit and talk to her. They are my second set of eyes, alerting me when she spits up, is crying, or needs something. This baby is VERY well tended to! It is fun to watch the older kids play together more than ever because their parents hands are often full. I am grateful to see how easy going they have become and how they are growing in responsibility and love.

And then there’s my husband. My hero, yet again. My rock through pregnancy and delivery. My encourager. The tenderness he has shown as he cared for me and our family after delivery is inexpressible.

Selfless. Persistent. Loving. Enduring.

This man took over so much around the house and with our kids. He entertains and plays with our kids, filling our home with giggles and squeals of delight. He brings me beverages and snacks while I feed the baby. He cooks, cleans and runs errands, all while working full time. Thoughtfully, he recruited help for me when he had to go out of town on a work trip so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed. He is a full time, hands-on daddy and husband.

When we’re having a rough reflux-day, he comes home from work early to give me a break.  In the middle of the night, he takes over rocking the baby when she can’t fall back asleep. And he encourages and compliments, while graciously biting his tongue when I’m not doing the same. I am so grateful for his faithful, patient, selfless service to me and our family as he loves us through actions.

Words can simply not express just how grateful I am for him. Words fail me.

Our family and friends have blessed us beyond measure. Gifts, meals, visits with helping hands and loving arms have been given in abundance. We have been so generously cared for, the thank you card list keeps getting longer an longer (some day they will actually get written and be mailed!).

I feel the prayers of many lifting our family up as we adjust to being a family of five, and as we pray for Audra to feel better. We are so well loved, cared for, and covered in prayer. When I think I’m at my limit holding this sweet, crying child, a phone call or text message comes through checking in on us, or to tell me they are praying for us – always in perfect timing, bringing tears of joy and the feeling of being known.

And I feel no doubt that the Lord who created these precious children sees me, knows our struggles, and is carrying us through. We trust in his healing of Audra’s reflux, and that it will happen in HIS perfect timing. We trust that any present suffering is being used for good, and we expectantly wait on Him to show us exactly what He is doing here. I feel his loving, comforting arms as others selflessly step in to serve us and to lift us up.

He withholds no good thing from us.

We just have so much to be grateful for. I refuse to wish these days away, reflux or not. So we focus on gratitude, on our family, and keep our gaze on Jesus. Time is flying by, and we commit to soak it all in, no matter how busy or exhausted we are, or how much this sweet hurting baby cries.

Our hands may be full with these three precious children, but our life, and hearts are overflowing.

My cup runneth over.

 

 

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?