On Friday, my beautiful fifth child will turn one! I honestly find it difficult to express the pure joy he has brought to me and the whole family. While I do lament that he will soon no longer be a baby, I also look forward to the new stage of life that this will usher in for our family.
Having had five babies, I have been very lucky to have many wonderful family members and friends do very thoughtful things to help me out. This post to a large degree is written as a reminder for me, of what were some of the things that were incredibly helpful to me when I had a newborn. I think as time passes it could be easy to forget what it is like to have a new born baby and a growing family. I want to remember what people did for me that helped me out so much, so that I can then do the same for others when their time comes.
1. Visit but do stuff.
My sisters were always fantastic for coming over to visit and just also lending a hand when they were there. It might be reading a story to the toddler, or helping the older kids with their homework, a simple task that would save me time and allow me to focus on just breast feeding the baby (as opposed to doing both at the same time!)
2. Bearing gifts of food.
You might remember the wonderful baby bundle I received a when our newest baby was a few weeks old. It was such a help to have meals in the freezer, that I could use on days when I was short of time or had a clingy baby. I have also had many friends and families cook for me in the past and a cooked gift is something that I already try to include for friends when they have had a new baby.
I consider myself to be incredibly lucky in the baby sitting department. I had (one has just moved to Sydney ) two sisters who were always very happy to babysit the children, including the baby. This year both sisters organised a specific time a week during school terms when they would come over. One sister came Wednesday mornings and I would leave the baby and take the toddler to his kindy gym class. It was lovely to have this time alone together. The other sister would leave work early and come Tuesday nights after school. We had swimming on these nights so it was such a help to have another set of adult hands around once we came home from the pool.
We are also lucky to have MR I’s mum who always helps out with the babysitting when ever she can. She also comes to our house to do the baby sitting, which does makes going out so much easier for me. We are especially lucky because Mr I’s mum often comes at very short notice. When the baby is still little, I can get a bit funny about leaving him, so will sometimes leave it to the last minute to decide that I do want to go out. I appreciate how my mother in law is still happy to come and baby sit for us even with the short notice!
4. Clean, Iron and all those other boring but necessary house hold tasks.
Over the last 12 months, the only time that my ironing has been up to date is when my mum is visiting! When she visited last January when our fifth child was born, she also did some of those cleaning tasks that had been on my list for ages like, wiping down some walls in the kids bedrooms, scrubbing the lining of the pram, etc. She also cleaned up every night after dinner time which was so helpful!
5. Take the other kids out.
I have one sister who lives in Mildura and whenever they come to visit, they will always take all the kids (except the baby) out for a number of hours doing all sorts of exciting things. This is not only great for me who gets a few moments of peace, but super for the kids, who always have such with them.
6. Don’t be offended if we don’t call for a couple of weeks.
I find that in the first few months of a baby’s life, I don’t tend to call my friends as often. A newborn breastfeeding frequently, sleep deprivation and adjusting to new routines, meant that when I did find a minute or two to myself, I often just wanted to be quiet!
7. Still ask us out.
One thing I found that happens when you have a new baby, is that some people just assume that you won’t come any way, so don’t bother to ask you to an event, dinner etc. Even if I couldn’t go, it was always nice to still be asked and feel included.
8. Follow us around as we do stuff.
I love having people over and love it when people pop in for a visit. When I had a baby though, there are certain jobs that need to get done during sleep time, so if someone popped in during sleep times, instead of just sitting and talking, I would keep on with these tasks and enjoy the conversation of family and friends as I worked.
9. Service based gifts.
My mother in law gave us a cloth nappy service for 3 months with our first baby and it was a fantastic gift. I know friends who have received vouchers for house cleaning, ironing and baby sitting (a home made voucher – so cute!). These are all really practical gifts that help make life a little easier.
10. Gift For Mum.
We have always been so lucky to receive so many lovely presents on the arrival of our babies. It has been such a lovely surprise to get something for me! I have received jewellery, clothes, champagne and chocolates – all very thoughtful and greatly appreciated gifts!