Being a new parent can be overwhelming. It’s a whole new world, with lots of love. But sometimes, it can be hard. They might be recovering from surgery or complications, struggling with sleep deprivation, grappling with postpartum depression, or doing their best to stay on top of household tasks while caring for a newborn. Extending a helping hand to the new parents in your life can have a big impact on their mental and physical health in those early days. Here are a few ways to offer support.
You can offer to prepare a meal or even drop off a pre-made dish at their door with simple reheating instructions. You could also give them a gift card to a local restaurant that delivers to their address. This is a time when they’re more likely to be thinking about what the baby is eating, so make it as easy as possible to take care of themselves.
Suggest that you could run to the grocery store, pick up some toilet paper, or take their car in for an oil change. Those day-to-day tasks can pile up with everything going on. Put it out there as an open offer, or give them some suggestions of what you can do.
Being a listening ear is an important role to fill in a new parent’s life. This is a time when everyone is excited to hear about the new baby, but don’t forget to get updates about the parents too. Be there for them, and let them know that they can lean on you.
Whether the chores are simple or not, doing dishes, washing a load of laundry, tidying, or mopping can be a lot to manage. Cleaning their home can take a back burner for new parents. See if they could use help cleaning up while they take a nap or care for the baby.
If they have animals in their lives, check in to see if any furry companions could use a walk, some play, or extra ear scratches. With a new baby to care for, parents might not be able to give their pets as much attention—and understandably so. They might be relieved to have a loved one give their pets that extra care.
They might not need anything the first time you offer, but that doesn’t mean you should stop checking in. If a parent has to go back to work, see if they need any extra support. They might be uncomfortable reaching out and asking for help, so putting it out there takes the burden off of them and shows them you’re there when they need it.
Be sure to listen when new parents tell you what they do—and don’t—need. Sometimes that might mean dropping things off at the door without even seeing them. Don’t linger unless they ask. As with any offer to help, don’t be offended if they turn you down. A lot of the time, just knowing that they have people who care and are checking in on them is the biggest help of all.
New parents can feel overwhelmed by everything going on. If you think a parent in your life is struggling, suggesting services like behavioral health counseling, talking to their doctor, or using community resources can help them find the support that they need to work through a complicated time.
CHP’s Parents as Teachers program brings home visits to families in Park County and West Yellowstone. It’s a valuable resource for new parents and seasoned caregivers alike, open to any family with a newborn to five-year-old. Get in touch to see how the program can support the new parents in your life.