So your mom or mother-in-law is planning on visiting after you have the baby, or while you are in labor and after you give birth. Fabulous! Or, not so fabulous depending on what your relationship is like with these lovely women. As a woman who has both a mother and a mother-in-law, I know a bit about these sorts of things. I have been extremely lucky in having my own mom come for visits soon after I gave birth, and it’s awesome to have an extra set of hands around the house when you bring a new little person into it. Except when it isn’t awesome. Moms mean well. They usually do. But sometimes they forget why they are visiting in the first place and this is when you start screaming at them like you are a hormonal teenager and you slam your bedroom door and cry all over your baby’s cute little downy head. Not good. Those of us with moms and mothers-in-laws are so fortunate to have them, and even though they can sometimes drive us a little batty there is nothing like being able to count on an older woman who loves you offering to come help out when you need it most. So here is what I think the most important things that a new grandma can do for a new mom.
You Are There To Baby Your Baby
As much as you may think you are there to help with your new grandchild, you are not. Yes, you may get to hold the baby on occasion, but it is YOUR job to make sure that YOUR baby has what she needs.
You Need To Shut Your Mouth-Hole
Yes, you have done a fine job raising your child who now has a child. Brava. But she doesn’t need to hear your opinions on everything she is doing wrong. You may hate the baby’s name, but your kids aren’t going to march on down to the hospital and say OH we made a mistake because my mom hates the baby’s name so we need to change it. You may not like the nursery decor, the type of swaddling blankets your kids purchased, or the brand of diapers they are using. You need to shut up about all these things. You can act all scandalized that your daughter is practicing attachment parenting to your own spouse or bridge club when you return home.
You Need To Make Yourself Useful
Cook something, clean something, fold something. If you don’t cook, go purchase some fabulous breads and cheeses and fruit. Wash all the towels in the house. Walk the dog. Mop the floor. There are things that need to be taken care of in a house with a new baby in it, and you can do these things.
And You Need To Be Available When The Mom Wants You To Take The Baby
Offer to change the baby or hold the baby while mom naps. Bundle that baby up and take it for a short walk in the stroller. Offer to take care of the baby so mom can take a hot shower, alone, without the portable swing on the bathroom floor.
You Need To Talk About The Baby
No one will ever love this baby as much as the parents and you do, so you need to talk about the baby. You know what new parents like doing? Saying how cute/good/amazing the new baby is. Over and over again. Their friends will get really sick of this topic of conversation very quickly, so it’s your job to always mention the baby, at all times. New parents want to spend roughy six hours a day exclaiming that this baby is the best baby of all times. You need to agree with them.
You Need To Give Advice. When Asked.
If your daughter asks you for help, that’s awesome, feel free to show her your patented swaddling technique or the best way to get a burp up. IF she asks you. If not, shut the mouth hole.
You Need To Bring Fabulous Prizes With
You know your kid loves the chocolate chip cookies you make? Bring ‘em. Check her out brand new books from the library. Get her a DVD she has been wanting to see. Get her a stack of glossy magazines. Same goes for your son or son-in-law. People will be bringing all sorts of fabulous prizes for the baby so sure, go ahead and knit an afghan or buy a layette from Neiman Marcus but bring some things with for the new parents too. And if you have anything your own kid had when they were a baby, like a beloved outfit or a toy, bring that too. Great, I need to go cry now.
If There Are Other Kids In The Home, You Be The Best Grandma Ever
It’s hard caring for a newborn and also caring for those old boring kids that have been around for a few years. Plus, those old boring kids might feel a bit jealous that the new baby is getting all the attention, due to their new baby smell and all that. Play with those old boring kids! Take them to the park. Read books until your mouth is sore, let them sleep with you, cook with them. It will be good for them and allow the new parents a chance to bond with the baby.
Take A Million Pictures
When you ask old people (Yes, this means you) what is the one thing they would save if their house was on fire, the answer is usually pictures. Or their heart medication. Sorry grandma! But anyway, take as many photos as you can. Not only will you have a gorgeous collection to show off to your friends back home, but you can make the new parents a nice album.
Did I Mention Shut Your Mouth Hole?
Now is not the time to bring up past grievances, or make snarky comments about how her husband leaves his socks on the floor, or how your friend’s daughter had a baby and she decided to quit her job and stay at home to take care of that baby and this is who she did it when she had you and blah blah blah blah. SHUT IT. You can voice your opinion in a letter you send after you get home or how about never? Listen, you raised at least one of these people. If you think you are a moderately intelligent person than chances are the person you raised is one too. This is their life, and their baby, and they should be allowed to make the same mistakes and celebrate the same milestones you did. Think back to if your own mother or mother-in-law came to visit after you gave birth and how they quite possibly drove you crazy too. Do not be that person.
Updated: For those who requested a more gentle take on the topic, I made one here.