Oh Baby!
October 3, 2008 4:18 PM   Subscribe

My neighbor/good friend just went into labor! I have the keys to her house. Give me some ideas of what I can do to rock out her house while she is gone!

I was thinking of folding some laundry (I already started doing this while I was waiting with her for her husband to come home), leaving some meals/stocking her fridge. What else?
posted by Sassyfras to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Clean the house, stock it with food, get a bouquet of flowers!

(This coming from someone who is 37 weeks pregnant, if that means anything!)
posted by crunchtopmuffin at 4:34 PM on October 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yay! You're wonderful. Many good wishes to your friend.

*Clean her bathrooms as if they will not be cleaned again for a month. Because they very well might not be.
*Leave easy meals and foods that can be prepared quickly and eaten with one hand.
*Trick out her favorite spot on the couch (or favorite chair) with easy-to-reach water, snacks, box of tissues, brand-new magazines, the remote, her stash of baby books, and maybe some new pretties like flowers or something she'd like. She'll spend a lot of time in that spot for a while.
*If she hasn't done this already, find out from her husband the contact information for the ped's office, nurse's "warm line," lactation consultant (if she's nursing), friends and family enlisted to help, etc. and put it all together on one sheet by the phone--maybe with a few handmade coupons for services you'll provide for her.
*Ask her husband if there were any little nesting projects or errands that she meant to get to and just didn't get done and do them!
*Plug in nightlights all over the house to help with wee hours walking with baby. It's nice not to have to turn on any lights at night during those first difficult weeks.

New babies are the best, but mom's get so overlooked. Thank you for looking out for this one. Keep visiting with her and helping as these first weeks go by--it's nice to know you're not alone in the beginning.
posted by rumposinc at 4:37 PM on October 3, 2008

Response by poster: I just had another thought - this is her third baby - so there will be a big brother (5) and sister (18 months) involved - perhaps doing something for them as well?
posted by Sassyfras at 4:40 PM on October 3, 2008

You are a beautiful person. I've said it before, here in the green, but I'll say it again; I'll take a bullet for anybody and everybody who helped me when my daughter was born.

The basics have all been covered by others already. A bit of cleaning, a bit of meal help will grant you assured entry into the afterlife paradise of your choice.

One thing I don't see mentioned is an indulgence. Everybody has a favorite food/beverage/movie/whatever... If your friend has a comfort food, make sure there's a supply waiting for her when she gets home. For example, my girlfriend decided to give up ripened cheeses during her pregnancy because there are apparently some concerns about the bacteria that grow in it. For her, this was like cutting off an arm, but she did it anyway. So I made sure there was a cheese tray with all her favorites waiting for her five minutes after our daughter was born.
posted by lekvar at 4:58 PM on October 3, 2008

You're such a lovely friend!!!

Cleaning and tidying is good. Also meals (esp for the other kids so they don't feel left out). And healthy snacks like cherry tomatoes or pre-cut vegies and dips. Is there anything she's been really missing while pregnant (eg: brie, pate, wine) that you could put in the fridge for her?

Also, maybe a big note on the fridge with your phone number, saying "call me any time" (I'm sure she already has your number, but sometimes new mums need a reminder that they're allowed to ask for help!)
posted by finding.perdita at 5:05 PM on October 3, 2008

Stock their freezer with a couple of casseroles, or pots of soup and stew, with ingredients and heating instructions taped to the top of each one.

Buy some fresh fruit and some cheese and crackers for easy snacks. Find out what the older kids like and make sure there's a good supply of easy-to-fix stuff for meals for them.

Buy a few inexpensive little gifts for the older kids, like stickers, coloring books, sidewalk chalk, that kind of thing. Stuff they can do on their own while the mom is nursing or feeding the new baby. Plus the baby will be getting a lot of presents and this way the mom has something for the other kids too.

Speaking of that, if you can possibly take the other kids for a couple of hours here and there, that would be about the best thing you could do for your friend. Then she can nap, spend time with the baby, or shower or whatever she likes. If you make the older kids feel like they're getting a special treat in getting to play in your back yard, or taking a walk to the park with you, you'll be doing her a favor that she'll always remember with gratitude.

You're a good friend. I wish you were my neighbor!
posted by Kangaroo at 5:14 PM on October 3, 2008

A playground is often a good place to go if you are taking both of the kids - especially one with some of the equipment geared towards the younger ones.

Make sure the bed is made and I second the clean bathrooms and clean kitchen (at least dishes washed and counters and table wiped down.)

I wouldn't both with flowers - she will probaby get several from out of town family.

A good present for an 18 month old is plastic kitchen things - a cup, plate, large bowl, large spoon for him/her to play with, stack and bang. Sidewalk chalk is good for both ages. A video the two older kids can watch. At 18 months, I would go for animals or babies although it has been so long that I can't make a specific recommendation. We used to have a cute animated version of Little Bear that the 5 years old could read along with. One option would be to get it from the library and offer to come by and exchange it when it is due. Maybe even take the older siblings to the library with you to gets books as well as videos (a mom can certainly nurse and read a story at the same time).
posted by metahawk at 6:05 PM on October 3, 2008

What great suggestions...a thought for the children...for the little girl, a baby doll, and two matching receiving blankets, one for her new baby doll and the matching one to give to new baby when she first meets her/him. For the little boy, an instant camera so he can take lots of pictures of mom and baby, and later you can get them developed, and provide him with a little book or big piece of cardboard to put them in/on and give as a gift to mom and baby.

I would have LOVED having you for a neighbor...if you just do two or three of the many lovely ideas, the third-time mom will praise your name for years to come!

Blessings for that family?...you're it!
posted by mumstheword at 6:05 PM on October 3, 2008

When she comes home, take the other kids off her hands if you can.

I say that as someone who has been home with a newborn for a week. I don't know what I would have done if my mother-in-law wasn't here to entertain my toddler.

Supply some healthy snacks (or not so healthy... I like Oreos) and bottled water that can be kept near her bed for those late nights. She will be especially hungry and thirsty if she's breastfeeding.
posted by ellenaim at 6:12 PM on October 3, 2008

If you're keen on mumstheword's advice, I would suggest updating it to buy both children a babydoll regardless of gender. Unless there's been a moratorium on teaching males to nurture and I didn't get the memo.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:06 PM on October 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

I can't add to anything above, just want to echo that you are a hell of a friend.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:22 PM on October 3, 2008

Premade Meals In The Fridge!

Our neighborhood always got the "meals on heels" rotation going, and got a week or two worth of premade meals in the fridge- it was hugely appreciated- especially if there are older kids in the family.
posted by jenkinsEar at 9:16 PM on October 3, 2008

I was just visiting grandchildren from out of town and their smart mama had put a piece of paper on the fridge with a clear map from their house to the local children's hospital along with MD phone numbers, ect.
Since I didn't know the area it seemed like a good idea to have it there, ready to grab.

Also I would give the five year old a task that they are in charge of...like counting the diapers. And they they can report when diapers are running low. And get praise for doing such a good job. You get the idea.
posted by what-i-found at 11:40 PM on October 3, 2008

Specific idea for a meal to leave: something with iron and protein. She'll probably have lost a little blood and also just be exhausted. My best friend brought over roast beef and potatoes when I came home from the hospital, and it was THE BEST.
posted by tk at 6:18 AM on October 4, 2008

Sorry to be a negative nelly, but only do the things above if you are SURE she would like them and not feel violated. We've left keys with people before, and then they've gone and done things we haven't appreciated. Their intentions were good, but they sometimes went over a line (as in, going through our private drawers, etc).

This out of the way, things involving food, laundry, etc, are probably almost universally okay, and especially general cleaning / vacuuming. Celebratory decoration, etc, are probably best avoided.
posted by wackybrit at 8:51 AM on October 4, 2008

I'm holding my two-day-old son in one hand as I type this very slowly with the other... all I can think reading a lot of these suggestions is OMG NO NO NO BAD IDEA

Simple stuff like doing any dishes or folding laundry is probably ok, if they're close enough friends that they're not going to be upset by you rummaging around their house while they're away, but I absolutely wouldn't go any farther than that -- personally what I'm wanting most right now is a sense of normalcy; if I'd gotten home to find that some well-wishing person had cleaned or rearranged things or put up decorations I'd be even more discombobulated than I am already.

If it's their third kid, they're probably a lot less on edge about everything than I am with my first, but still. Keep it simple.

(And keep any visits after they get home short and sweet, unless they make it very clear they want someone around; the last thing they might want is to have to entertain guests. Even sincerely well-meaning ones.)
posted by ook at 10:28 AM on October 4, 2008

Response by poster: Great suggestions! Some follow-up on what I've decided to do: another neighbor and I are going to be providing meals for them (that they can eat right away or freeze for later) for the next few days (and yes, I have checked with her to see if this is something she would want). I'm also going to be getting her a book she's been dying to read (but is about 90th of the wait list at the library).

I, too, have three children so I'm pretty aware of things not to do for someone with a new baby (I won't be decorating or going through their stuff), but I will be taking their garbage can in from the curb and placing their newspaper on the front stoop.
posted by Sassyfras at 5:14 PM on October 4, 2008

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