Throughout my pregnancy, the birth, LittleJ’s special care stay and returning home with two babies, friends and family gave us much needed support and love. This post is a list of things people did to help, and a few things I think would have helped. So if you’ve found yourself in a support role and you’re unsure of what to do, I hope this provides some ideas!
- Meals: Nothing really beats meals. Don’t be shy about your cooking prowess, the tired family will not care…free food always tastes better. If a family has older children, consider lunchbox snacks, muffins etc. And use takeaway containers because they will not remember which container is yours.
- Cleaning/Laundry: Some people are a bit unsure about allowing outsiders into the private, dusty corners of their house; however, there is a way you can bypass this awkwardness by being more direct. Instead of saying, “if you have any laundry let me know” or “if you want some cleaning I can help”…because most people won’t. Instead, say – “I’ll come and pick a basket of dirty washing up (insert specific day/time).” This saves the person from having to ‘request’ help, all they need to do is agree. Rather than ask if they’d like some cleaning, tell them you’ve paid for a two hours of cleaning they just need to pick a day.
I had a couple of lovely people pay for a cleaner to come to my house, amazing! One thing I would add, which I would not have even thought of – but with four children it was quite an ordeal getting the house ‘tidy’ (i.e. putting things away and off the floor) so the cleaner could maximise their vacuuming/mopping/dusting time, maybe offer to come over the hour/day before just to put toys away or wash the dishes, then the cleaner can spend their time cleaning instead of tidying.
- Pray: I had a few key people who I knew I could request prayer from without having to explain too much. Try not to hassle the person with questions of how they’re going though and be understanding if they go dark, the blur of feeding twins, visiting the hospital and trying to sleep amongst that is enough to deal with, replying to text messages is not up there on the list of priorities.
- Coffee: If they drink coffee – drop one off occasionally.
- Gardening: When we returned home from Perth a couple of lovely people from our church had mowed the lawns and cleaned up our yard a little.
- Company: This one is quite personality dependent. I found myself often in a place where I just wanted company, not help, but often people didn’t want to ‘impose’. Don’t be afraid to ask if you can visit, but keep the visits to an hour, hour and a half if there’s newborns, and talk about your life. It’s nice to be immersed in something other than babies for a while :).
- Shopping: I have one lovely soul who always let me know when she was going to the local fruit and vegetable shop so I could do an online order which she would pick up and leave on my balcony for me.
- School Run: Not everyone can manage this one, but there are four very special ladies who I can ask to pick up my children from school for me on days when H or I can’t.