When you share with the world that you’re expecting a child, you are never short of advice given or promises handed to you. Ever. If I had a nickel for every person who gave me advice or promised to babysit, I could have paid off my student loans by now. Seriously. After a while the phrases begin to repeat themselves, but nonetheless, you get it all day, every day.
One of the most common pieces of advice I received, without fail was:
Let me know if you need anything.
Let me just be blunt: I hate this phrase. It’s vague, there’s no action behind it, and it’s not helpful. As a new mother, I could remember needing help with everything. A helping hand. Someone to cook. A shower. To go use the bathroom. Someone to talk to who didn’t want to talk about the baby. The clothes folded. A date night. A break! There are so many things you can’t even imagine goes on in a day of taking care of a new child or any child of any age – period! It’s tedious and it’s hard work. And you want me to take time out to remember to let you know if I need anything. Right.
Now understand that most people say this with great intentions. The problem is that it’s said too often. It’s said as a means of “putting it out there” so it can be justified with a rebuttal that “help was offered.”This is not help nor is it helpful.
Here’s an example of someone who offered to baby sit:
“Hey Tish! We want to babysit Laila so you two can have a date night! We’re free and available on Saturday, September 20 from 5pm-10pm. All you’ll need to do is make sure you bring snacks, toys, diapers and clothes! We’ll take care of the rest!
Does this work for you?”
Did this work? Not only did is work, we had absolutely nothing planned that evening, but the sheer fact that they gave us specifics allowed me to make a thorough decision – and fast! We jumped on the chance at the help offered, we got out by ourselves & it turned out to be amazing for everyone! See the difference between that offer to help and “Let me know if you need anything”?
Now that you know the difference, here’s a better way to offer help to a new mom:
“Hey hun. I’m making my famous spaghetti tonight! I know you’re super busy with baby and may not have time to cook anything.” I’d like to bring over a special pan for you and the family to have for dinner. Is 7 o’clock okay?”
“Hey love! I have some extra time in my schedule today. Would you mind if I swing by to watch the baby while you nap/shower/read a book/run errands?”
“Hey mama. I’m at the store getting some extra cleaning supplies. Is there a good time to come by to help you clean up/wash dishes/fold laundry?”
Obviously everyone’s different and may not agree with what I’m saying. I’m sure other moms out there have no trouble articulating the help they need when they’re hormonal and trying to adjust. However, making your offer to help more actionable & time sensitive is worth more than a vague phrase. Don’t make moms have to think about what she needs help with. Offer with action and time! If she needs something else, it’ll open the conversation for her to share that. There’s ALWAYS something that needs to get done. Either way, don’t continue to pass out empty promises or sayings with no substance.