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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

helping out a new mama

Having a newborn around is exhausting. 
Moms get the least sleep, are physically without energy from going through labor, trying to recover. 
Moms need all the help they can get after they bring home a new baby. 

So I like to provide food. Yumminess. Yummo, in the words of Rachael Ray. 
Who doesn't like or couldn't use extra food around when a baby is making them tired, 
up all night, unable to cook for themselves? 
People who brought food to us when our children were born were heroes in our book. 

One of the best gift baskets I received when our son was born was a basket full of snacks. Instead of a dinner or casserole, my friend made us cookies, muffins, and trail mix. She said she knows many people will bring lasagna, but that we also would need something at 2 a.m. to keep us from starving to death and make us happy. It was awesome! She put the trail mix in a Mason Jar, totally cute. I wasn't that fancy in this picture below, but you get the idea.

I've also made this trail mix and shipped it to a new mom friend who lived in another state. She said it made it there just fine!

For 2 A.M. Trail Mix here are some things I use.
I always make it differently, so you can use as much or as little of these ingredients below as you want. Just mix it up well together, put in a ziplock bag and you're done.

M&Ms, any kind, but especially the pretzel ones to change it up
dried apples
banana chips
chocolate chips, or white chocolate chips
yogurt covered raisins
Cheerios or Chex cereal
sunflower seeds
ETC. the sky is the limit! :) 

 I also make muffins because they are super easy to store, freeze, or just eat any time of day. I also find they are great for people who have just had a second or third newborn, who have older kids around and will need something yummy, healthy to snack on.

I won't lie, I'm pretty laid back when it comes to making muffins, no Martha Stewart here, folks. I buy Jif or other Betty Crocker type bag mixes. They taste delicious and are easy for me to make a big batch at once. I never have complaints from the people I give them to and I often make them for my own kids. Very easy to do. I usually try to make a couple of different flavors.

A few other staple meals I've made for new parents include:

*Baked Ziti - pasta, mixed with tomato sauce, put into a casserole dish (ALWAYS use a throw-away dish so they don't have to return the dish to you later, no new mom has a brain for that kind of thing!), and top with mozzarella cheese. So easy to make, inexpensive ingredients, and something most love to eat, a sure bet.

*Brownies - Hello?! Easy and yummy. Every new mom needs a pick-me-up.

*Ice cream - a nice treat for the freezer and late nights waiting to put baby to bed.

*Yogurts, smoothie drinks, etc. I was hooked on Stonyfield Smoothies when I had my first. They were such a good nutritious snack for the middle of the night.

*Basket of favorites - My good friend and co-worker did this for me last year, she put together a basket of all of my favorite foods - carrots and hummus, cheese sticks, apples, Wheat Thin crackers, trail mix, etc. It was perfect!

*Pizza  Delivery - Grab them a quick takeout meal. You don't always have to make the food yourself for it to be appreciated by a new parent. Pick them up some pizza, fries, salad, etc. or even Chinese food or some subs. They'll love not having to cook.

*Breakfast - Oftentimes people make meals, dinners for new families. Instead, try taking over a basket of bread, muffins, bagels and cream cheese, or quiche and fruit salad.

*Quick Meals - A cousin of ours made us a great care package for dinner when we had our son. Instead of making the food she brought us two packages of those yummy raviolis you find near the deli in the grocery store, some fancy tomato sauce and fancier than normal grated cheese, plus garlic bread and salad. It was awesome. We had to do a little cooking, but nothing terrible. It must have been pretty easy for this mom to put together, too, so a win-win. Package up taco ingredients or macaroni and cheese ideas for an easy dinner the family can make.

A few ideas for helping out new moms, in addition to feeding them:

*Keep the visit short.

*Offer to fold laundry, sweep the floor and do the dishes. The mom will say no thanks, but do it anyway.

*Pick up the toys after you leave if your kids took some out.

*If possible, don't take your kids over unless the mom wants your kids there to play with her older kids.

*Bring over a magazine to read while nursing or some nail polish or new shampoo so mom can feel her best. Tell her to go shower while you're there holding the baby.

*Encourage mom to take a nap while you are visiting. Tell her it's OK to catch up talking later.

*Don't expect to hold the baby. If mom is busy nursing and keeping to the baby's needs in those first few weeks, let it be. Don't hold baby too long just in case the mother is hesitant to ask for baby back to feed.

*If you are eating over too, bring paper plates and drinks to toss out so there is little dish-washing to do.

*Text, email, FB message at least once every few days to just check in and offer an ear if needed. Moms can feel totally alone in those first few weeks, exhaustion and PPD can set in. So be there. Make a point to stay focused on your friend, don't let your life get in the way as busy as you are. Remember what it was like when you were a new mother.

*Don't look like a million bucks when you visit a mother who has just given birth. Seriously, do I need to explain this one?! I mean, you are permitted to shower, but don't go over all "I just got my hair done up and a manicure, don't you love my new skinny jeans?" Sweatpants are acceptable attire for visiting a new mother. :)

*Let her do most of the talking. Don't tell her how to do everything or how you did it when your kids were born. It's great to share some stories so she knows she isn't alone, but don't do more talking than she does.

*Reassure your friend. Let her know she's not alone. She'll get through this tough time and that whatever it is, it's normal!

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