Set up your postbaby care plan now
Whether it’s your first baby or your fourth, coming home from the hospital as a Solo Mom can be intimidating, overwhelming, and emotional. Help is sometimes necessary, and the good news is, partner or not, there are so many ways in which others around you can lend a hand.
The first step is to figure out what you need help with and then who to ask or accept offers of from. Typically these offers pour in during the last weeks of pregnancy. Some are genuine and some are superficial, and they will be easily distinguishable. Figuring out who you can call on when you need help is important, especially during the first few weeks with a newborn.
Family help is a given, some may say. But if you don’t live close to your family or have a great relationship with them, they can be more of a hindrance than a help. If your family lives far away and they aren’t able to visit, there are a few things on the list they can do from afar.
Generally speaking, people are more apt to help when asked to assist you with something specific. If you need something, ask for it. If they offer a sweeping, “Call me if you need something,” call them with a specific request.
Here are five ways in which people can support you after you give birth.
1. Meals. Anyone can bring you a meal. You can also order one or simply prepare one to go in the freezer for later on. Websites such as Take Them a Meal and Meal Train make it easy for anyone to set up and schedule a meal, and these sites even include different options for meal delivery.
Not having to worry about meals the first few weeks after bringing baby home will take a huge load off your shoulders—even if someone wants to order you a pizza, swing by with something from Panera, or bring you a Starbucks coffee.
Bonus: Take all the food and freeze it. You’ll appreciate being able to reheat dinner a few weeks down the road when you’re sleep deprived.
2. Cleaning. New Solo Moms are not expected to keep up with laundry or cleaning the house—not at all! This is also something easy that friends or family can help with, an offer you don’t want to turn down.
Laundry is a great way for people to help, and, if you aren’t comfortable with having a friend clean your house, consider hiring a cleaner. It’s really hard to clean your home with a newborn needing to be held continually. A good cleaning session or two will keep you on track and help you maintain your home instead of falling behind.
Bonus: Set this up beforehand, if possible. Have someone clean your house during the last month of your pregnancy so you and baby come home to a clean house.
3. Nap nanny. Sleeping when the baby sleeps is good only if you don’t have anything else to do. As a Solo Mom, your responsibilities are infinite; thus, sleeping when the baby sleeps is not always feasible. But I bet you have a few (dozen) friends who are more than willing to come over and hold your baby for a while so you can nap.
Set up an easy schedule where someone comes over for a few hours so you can take a shower and nap. Or skip the shower and just sleep.
Bonus: If you have 12 friends who can help (or family if they are nearby) and you schedule three naps a week with each of them, you’ll have the first month covered!
4. Errands. Running errands with a newborn is, well, hellacious. Many aren’t yet in a set schedule, so feeding your newborn right before you leave isn’t guaranteed to hold him or her over.
Your newborn may hate the car seat or stroller and scream the whole time. It’s better to minimize the time you need to spend outside the house. Take advantage of things such as grocery delivery, postal-service pickup, and Amazon. The only place you should really need to go those first two weeks is the pediatrician.
Bonus: Amazon Prime sells diapers at a 20% discount, so you can skip the trip to Target.
5. Scheduling. Now that you have an idea of what kind of help you may need or want, it’s time to start planning who can come and when. Google Calendar is a great tool to help you keep things organized. You can set up a shared calendar indicating who is coming for naps, when the cleaning company is coming, and who is bringing dinner each night.
Spread out the help, as you will still want it and need it after the first two weeks. One suggestion would be to have meals delivered every other day, as there are almost always leftovers.
Bonus: This is something easy to set up at your baby shower or any time before the baby’s arrival.
Get this plan in motion before you go into labor. Have a trusted friend who can rally the troops when it is time for you to leave the hospital. They say a true friend knows what you need before you do. I say a true friend drives you home from the hospital to a clean house with a hot meal waiting.
Rebecca Alwine is a freelance writer, army wife, and mother of three. Her writing experience includes military-family topics, research pieces, guest blogging, and much more. She’s a contributing writer for ARMY magazine and a regular contributor to several online publications, including the Homefront United Network, PCSgrades, and ESME. She also has been published in Ms. magazine and the Atlantic. You can follow her online at www.whatrebeccathinks.com and on Twitter and Instagram.