Monday, January 31, 2011

Asking Friends and Family for Post-Partum Help

When I was first thinking through the challenges of being a new parent, I had the idea that I would create a calendar of very specific tasks and ask my friends to sign up for them. I even found a free internet calendar designed to coordinate exactly that kind of support.

Now that we're getting closer and closer to the birth, I'm realizing that I just don't know what we're going to need and when we're going to need it. So instead of creating a rigid schedule in advance, I decided to send out a general call for help. As you can see from the message below (which I e-mailed out to our friends in Houston), I'll be able to compile a list of people who have volunteered to do certain things. If we need them after the baby comes, we can definitely call them.

Once our friends respond, I'll print out the Excel document and add it to our Baby Binder. So far, it contains directions about how to do things around our house (cleaning, taking care of the chickens, etc.), maps to the grocery store and other frequented destinations (for my mom when she comes to visit), easy recipes, and take-out menus.

Here's the call for help we sent out:

Dearest Friends,

Matt and I are in the final stages of preparing for the arrival of our little boy. His ETA is
February 15, but it would be completely normal for him to arrive two weeks early or late. As we immerse ourselves in the excitement, we are also trying to be realistic about the difficulties that can come from sleep-deprivation, trouble with breast-feeding, constant crying, etc.

Since both of our families are about 1,000 miles away (in opposite directions), we might need to rely on our Houston "family" for support.
If you would be willing to help, please take a minute to fill out this survey:

But definitely don't feel obligated to respond to this message! We completely understand that your lives are full of your own needs, and we promise not to take it personally if you aren't able to help at this time.

If you are able to help, we promise not to take advantage of you! The survey is designed to get a sense of everything you would be willing to help with, but we will be super-conscious of only asking for one favor from each of you, if possible.

We hope all is well with you!

Take care,

Sara-Matt-Hoss-Chickens-Baby (Whose Name Is Yet to Be Determined)

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Katie Ready said...

I think this is a great idea, but please be open to the fact that you may not want any help at all. When both of my daughters were born, after the constant stream of visitors the first few days, all I wanted was to be left alone with my new babies and to have time to adjust without a million people in my home. I normally love company and am always welcoming friends to my home, but I was exhausted from it all and just wanted to be alone. YOu may not feel that way, but be prepared to. People will understand if you want time alone. I think you will fins that keeping up with the tasks of daily life will not be as difficult as you anticipate. YOu will still have time to finish all the housework and chores you need to, you will just have to be more creative and adjust to a new way of life. It will be wonderful! Just do not stress over the house (as it will never be clean again until your kids move out :)) and remember to enjoy every second!!!!!

Anne said...

I thought your email was very thoughtful and well-written. It's easy to fall into "mommy-martyrdom" mode and feel that everyone owes you help, but you made it sound humble and lovely to you friends.
I'll send it to my sister as inspiration when she gives birth in the spring.
Best wishes for your last few pregnant days!

Anonymous said...

I think this is a good idea but it seems slightly intense from a receiving standpoint. I'm 24 weeks and thinking about the same thing but I think we'll be fairly self sufficient. I am working on making a bunch of freezer friendly meals and our parents (who live a day away or more) are coming at different times to help clean. If other folks show up, I know they want to see the baby and we'll accommodate that. However, if they *ask* that we need anything, we'll keep a running short list. Some people will be more helpful than others but I couldn't imagine assigning a task to a family member or friend in advance. Maybe I feel this way since we'll both be home for the first 3 months and plan on intermittent house guests and short vacations. I don't mean to come across as harsh or mean but I think this approach is a little bold.

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