How to Get Help (Without Asking)

Something many people know about me is my history of knee surgeries. I have had four pretty serious surgeries (two on each leg) and I could talk to you for hours about them all, but that’s not why I am here writing to you today.

I have seen first hand what people do after surgeries. I was always lucky enough to receive care from family members. Meals cooked, hair washed over the side of the couch when I couldn’t stand up without searing pain, activities given and mailed to me, and so much more. My village of family and friends were a huge part of my recoveries and they did things for me that I will never forget. 

I was also fortunate in this way after giving birth, family cooked meals for us, travelled to visit us, and were a source of love and support. However, what I didn’t know at the time was that we needed (I needed) so much more. Of course, they asked how they could help but that question is uncomfortable to answer. I never felt like I wanted to say “can you heat up some food for me?”, or “I would love a shower”. Instead, I did most of the things or my husband did the things while I was nursing. 

In a dream world, he and I would have spent days in bed snuggling our newborn. So, the question is, how can I help YOU get the dream scenario?

Photo by nappy from Pexels

Obviously, I want to shout from the rooftops to hire someone like me who can come in and wrap you with loving support, but that doesn’t work for all families or all situations.

So, here are 5 ways you can get the help you need, without asking for it!

  1. Dress the Part

I preach this all the time, check out my TikTok about dressing the part! If you want your guests to come in after birth and be helpful instead of waited on, look like you need help. Stay in your comfy clothes, keep the robe on, don’t style your hair, and forget about make-up. If people see you looking vulnerable and real about the state you’re in, they will be more likely to offer help, even if it’s snuggling baby so you can get some rest. 

  1. Leave the Laundry Out

If you’ve had the time to wash it all, but it’s needs folding, leave baskets of laundry on or near where people would sit when they come to see you. Some (I hope most) people will fold the laundry as they visit. Don’t be afraid to tell them how you like it done!

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels
  1. Visible To-Do Lists

Leave a list on the counter or coffee table with nice big writing of what needs to be done. Empty checkboxes, of course! Along the same lines as the laundry, if an obvious to-do list is out, visitors will be more likely to say something  “I see you need the dishwasher emptied – can I do that for you”.

  1. Pre-plan The Tasks

Before giving birth there are two ways you can plan for the help of others. Seeing as we’re currently in a pandemic, ask for house cleaning services for your baby shower. This way you won’t need visitors to get stuff done! Even without a pandemic happening, this is a smart idea and will go more appreciated than an expensive diaper genie!

Another tip for planning ahead is to ask anyone who plans to visit or be around more if you can send them your chore schedule. Create an email group or family group chat, and send them the days garbage and recycling goes out, laundry schedule, and anything else you like done on certain days or times. The more people know without asking, the more they will do without asking!

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels
  1. Meal Train

If you haven’t heard of a meal train, sit down because I am about to blow your mind. First of all, no actual train is involved (although now my wheels are turning!) There is an actual Meal Train service where you can have people in your area deliver meals to you based on your preferred schedule and tastes. Choo-choo!

If working through an app isn’t your thing, consider placing a cooler outside your door and via email/group chat organize family and friends to drop you off meals for the first few weeks after birth. Not having to worry about meals is truly magnificent.

There needs to be a shift in society so that people pay more supportive attention to the birthing person after birth than the sweet baby. Until that happens, use these tips and tricks to get the most village out of your visitors!

With Love and Laughter,

Mama (Lauren) Miller

Feature image: Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

What About Me?

A guide to your baby’s older sibling(s)

The very moment a baby is brought into the world of an older sibling, their environment shifts forever. This transition is often a difficult one for a child. Rest assured, there is plenty you can do to assure your child(ren) feel safe, loved, and like the important member of the family they are.

Image by Daniela Dimitrova from Pixabay

In our household, despite following all the tips and tricks I knew from life as an Early Childhood Educator, our three year old struggled with some OCD tendencies after we had our second baby.

At bedtime specifically, if things were not done according to the plan in her head, she would have us repeat it until it was perfect. It was a stressful situation for all of us, elongating bedtime, as well as concerning us about the state of her mental health. With time it passed and to this day we continue to find ways to make her feel helpful, understood, and supported as our family grows together. 

When incorporating the tips below, it is important to understand that instant success is not likely, but time and consistency will help nurture the bond between older sibling(s) and baby.

Tips for Sibling Adjustment

First and foremost, every family setup is different and each child is unique. You know your child best and what their individual needs are. That being said, all children need to feel safe, loved, and understood. Here are a few ways you can help maintain those feelings:

Quality One on One Time

Photo by Nicholas Githiri from Pexels 

The key to successful one on one time isn’t what you’re doing with your child(ren), it’s how present you are.

Put away all distractions and try your best to give them an allotment of one-on-one time every day. 10-15 minutes is all it takes to make a huge difference in their day.

During newborn days I would read stories to my toddler while the baby was asleep on my chest. On weekends when my husband went to the grocery store, I had him take her with him so that she got a one-on-one time slot and an outing with dad. Win-win errand-running win! 

The grocery store trips lead me to tip number two…

Feelings of Importance & Inclusion

Focus shifts to the baby during this time and it’s easy to send off older siblings to play on their own, but most of the time they would like to feel included and important.

Luckily, having your child pitch in a little is easy to do. Have them bring you clean diapers/burp cloths/bum cream while you’re tending to baby. Make sure you express your gratitude for their help!

Remember that every child can help with household chores too, just keep your expectations low and be fully prepared to re-do their hard work (when they aren’t around!!). 

Assuring that your child feels like a valued member of the family helps to reduce their feelings of resentment toward their fresh sibling. 

Routine, Routine, Routine

I can’t stress the importance of a steady routine and children enough, but especially through tough transitions like welcoming a baby into the home, routines are KEY!

Photo Courtesy of Pexels

Of course, life is shifting and things have to change to accomodate baby. Maybe you can’t do older sibling bedtime anymore and your partner has to step in and do it. Perhaps instead of eating with your child for every snack and meal, now you have to hold the baby or nurse. It happens, but keeping things the same as much as possible is really important.

If your child has the language to answer, try asking them how new changes are making them feel and what you can do to help. 

Bedtime is a particularly sensitive time in our daily routine as I mentioned above. I always did bedtime with our girl so when we had baby I tried hard to keep it the same. What it looked like for us was both doing bedtime together. My husband did the washroom bit while I held/nursed the baby. Then I tucked our toddler in while he rocked baby. He would sit on the stairs (our comfort compromise) until our toddler was asleep while I bounced the baby asleep on an exercise ball. It was a balancing act and a half, but we made it work!

The Doula Bonus

One HUGE perk of hiring a Postpartum Doula is having that extra set of hands. If there is a part of your day that you can just tell is going to be a struggle, have a doula there to help.

We are great with older siblings and often come prepared to spend ample time one on one with them. Personally, I love to bring age appropriate stories with me for some quality reading time.

On the flip side, we are also stocked with all of the tips and tricks for snuggling a baby so that you can spend that one on one time bonding with your other child(ren).

Living in the Kingston Ontario area and Interested in booking your free consultation? Book one below!

Wishing you all the happiness,

Lauren (Mama) Miller