I've been extremely and overwhelmingly blessed with amazing friends who really lend support during those first few weeks after having a baby. Whether it's a new baby, an operation, or a loss, these are things I've learned from my friends and wanted to share with you ways we can bless families in need of extra love in our lives:
- Set up a meal train. This is a free website where you can organize meals for the family. You can set it up for every day, every other day, or whatever the mother would find helpful. There's a place to list allergies and food preferences, and really it's the easiest way to set up and manage meals.
- When bringing a meal, include all the trimmings (if your grocery budget allows). *Obviously, a simple meal is still a huge blessing and better than no meal at all. Staying within our grocery budgets is important, so don't be ashamed to work with what you have.* After I had my first child, our La Leche League leaders imparted the value of really spoiling our friends we bring dinners to. We usually steer clear of disposables, but in a special situation like this, getting everything you need (containers the food comes in, plates, flatware, napkins, cups, etc.) is heavenly. It means no clean up for the family. Adding a little something like a bottle of sparkling cider, a dessert, or even something for breakfast the next day is a great way to lavish love on your friends.
- Order a Healthy Surprise box. Is life too full to squeeze in making and bringing over a meal to your friends? Do you have a family you'd like to show love to that lives far away? These Healthy Surprise boxes come in all different sizes to fit any sized family's needs, and every snack is gluten-free (and organic whenever possible). While I don't endorse these snacks as a long term solution, they would be a Godsend when the family just can't spend as much time in the kitchen as they might like. Although you can sign up for a monthly delivery, you can also order a one-time gift. One of these boxes could make a great baby shower gift; especially for a family with older kids. Also? The shipping is free.
- Offering to play with the family's older children, or taking them out for play dates. I can have a hard time receiving help. Not because I think I can do it all, but because I don't want to put anyone out. It's a brokenness I'm not proud of. I'm working on it, I promise. If your friends struggle with the same thing, be persistent. Ask them what would be helpful. Running errands? Bussing kids to classes? Don't give them the option to turn help away, give them choices to pick from.
- Check in. Send them a little text with a sweet word. Let them know they are loved. If they are struggling with postpartum depression, a loss, or a hard time, it's easy to become isolated and slip into a very unhealthy place. Send them a simple text just letting them know you're thinking of them. Drop them a little email. It doesn't always have to be a phone call or a visit, sometimes a sensitive, quiet line of encouragement is just what the doctor ordered.
- Be sensitive. Being persistent in offering help and learning how to give space can be really tricky. Sometimes, especially if a family is grieving a loss, it's good to give them some time to regroup and gently re-offer help later, but it's important that they know you haven't forgotten them.
I'm sharing this at Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter.