New Mom, Overwhelmed, Needs Help in Sacramento
January 7, 2015 1:13 PM   Subscribe

Help me help my niece-in-law. She and my nephew had a beautiful baby boy in July, and she returned to work full-time in December. She is feeling overwhelmed, and I am trying to come up with practical solutions to take some of the load off.

Both my nephew and niece-in-law are trial lawyers, so their jobs are somewhat demanding, and they don't always control their own schedules. The baby is in a great day care, (seriously - I did not know day care for infants could be this enriching), so for the most part, the work day is not the issue. My niece-in-law is nursing full-time, and the baby is not really eating any solid food yet (except for starter tasting with simple purees). Between pumping at work, and getting up to nurse in the middle of the night, the NIL is feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and majorly sleep-deprived.

I know it will eventually get easier, but I'm trying to give her practical suggestions that will take some of the load off her plate for at least the next six months or so. For example, I suggested she have a housekeeper come in once or twice a week to do laundry, clean the house, change the beds, etc. They have two dogs, so I can suggest that she hire a poopscooping service to come and take care of the yard on a regular schedule. I'd also like to suggest that she get someone to come in and make a week's worth of meals for she and my nephew to eat during the work week.

Questions: Is there some one-stop service in Sacramento (Carmichael) that can coordinate all of this? I know that such services exist in the SF Bay Area, but am striking out in Sacto. Alternatively, does anybody have recommendations for the individual services described above in the Sacramento area?

Suggestions for other services to ease the household workload are also welcome. Thanks!
posted by ereshkigal45 to Home & Garden (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Does she have someone to talk to about this? A mentor who gets it? If not, that might help. I'm a former trial lawyer who backed off (time wise) after I had kids and am now ramping back up. I also had Post partum anxiety with my second; breast fed my first for three months and my second for 18 months; put the first one in her own room, co slept with the second. Had a meal service and a housekeeper and a nanny with the first; none of that with the second. So, you know, I've run teh gambit. Feel free to Memail me if she wants to correspond with someone about this.
posted by dpx.mfx at 1:17 PM on January 7, 2015

Not being a mom or in La Leche league or anything like that, the first thing I'd recommend is weaning the wee one to a bottle. Breast feeding is awesome, but it's been six months now, and clearly this is a very large source of stress for your niece. Okay, my two-cents, worth less. might be able to help. They offer Personal Assistants. A personal assistant can organize all the other folks, be there to let them in, run errands, do grocery shopping, etc.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:28 PM on January 7, 2015 [9 favorites]

She won't like this suggestion, but my suggestion is she stop pumping. The baby is 6+ months old and will move to non-mom milk and real food soonish anyhow. BF is great, but if mom isn't home and she's pumping all the time anyhow, just stop.

Pumping is so awful and stressful. If she can get her mind around moving that out of her life, she'll be better for it. Also, Dad can get up and feed baby. Or she can nurse only at night - part of weaning is spacing out feedings -- your body adapts -- and if baby gets formula during the day and nurses only when mom is around to do it, baby will still get all those cool antibodies while mom saves some of her sanity.

Is there some one-stop service in Sacramento (Carmichael) that can coordinate all of this?

If they have the budget to hire a personal assistant, that person could handle not only scheduling the housekeeper, scooper, etc, but could also handle bills, routine appointment, and those sorts of things - even down to getting the rent paid and the car to the shop.
posted by anastasiav at 1:28 PM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]

You might actually want to look around on the forum of LLL La Leche League
I found the ladies posting there immensily knowledgable and supportive on all things baby related.
Sometimes also dads post there asking how to support the wife.

They have a specialised subforum for working moms, among other things.

To read, you don't need to be registered (some of the sub forums are only available to registered users though).
And you don't have to be a dye in the wool breast feeder to receive advice there either - just anyone struggling with bf and/or pumping - issues is welcome.BTW, I initially joined looking for advice on weaning and found helpful advice. I ended up continuing for a little while longer but not because anyone there made feel I should.
posted by 15L06 at 1:41 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Being so exhausted and overwhelmed, this is probably not a good time to wean. Every time I had to wean my daughter from anything (I didn't breastfeed so bottle, soother, sleeping alone) it made me feel a lot of anxiety and stress. I often said, 'I can't do it this week; I've got too much stress right now'.

If they can afford it, I would say she needs a night nanny, so that she can get some sleep. The nurse can give baby a bottle during the night (whether it's breastmilk or formula). I think that has the potential to have the single greatest impact.
posted by kitcat at 1:59 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

But adding to what I just said above, I'm honestly not sure, since I didn't have to go through it, if it's a big transition to trade some breastfeedings for formula. If it's not, she should really, really consider that given that pumping is a source of stress. Her mental health is paramount. There has to be a trade-off; a person just can't do it all.
posted by kitcat at 2:04 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Nthing stop breastfeeding. Kid will be fine.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:06 PM on January 7, 2015

Has she given consideration to co-sleeping? I know it doesn't always work for (or appeal to) every family, but it really improved my sleep levels when I was single-parenting my infants.
posted by drlith at 2:09 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Actually, I would say KEEP breastfeeding but stop pumping. breast feeding is handy at night (easier than formula in my opinion) but pumping was a nightmare and exhausting. It sounds like she could do with a (part time?) personal assistant/housekeeper/persona around the house to handle a lot of her life.
posted by saucysault at 2:12 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Quit pumping - the benefits are marginal and the costs are considerable.

Cut down the night nursing to 1x max.

Consider sleep training.

Get some exercise.

And perhaps most importantly: consider a nanny instead of daycare. It's great that they found a good daycare, but a nanny will save time (because no daycare dropoff) and eventually will be able to get a lot done around the house during nap times. Can't tell you how much we miss the luxury of a nanny!
posted by yarly at 2:19 PM on January 7, 2015

Or if she doesn't want to quit pumping entirely, cut down to one a day. She absolutely should not be pumping more than 3x/day in any event.
posted by yarly at 2:21 PM on January 7, 2015

She doesn't have to stop breastfeeding. She can mix feed. One of the advantages is that her partner can get up and do the overnight feeds, either with a bottle she pumped that afternoon or formula. She's done this for six months; it is his turn now.

She might do a morning feed, pump at work for the overnight bottle(s), and do a feed when she gets home and for comfort on demand. The rest of the feeds can be formula.

If they can throw money at this problem, I would suggest a house cleaner and a dog walker.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:22 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I, as a mother of a very young child, would put you immediately on the "DO NOT TALK TO" list if you told me to stop pumping or breastfeeding. That is such an intensely personal decision, and I'm still pissed at my own mother for suggesting that to me MONTHS ago when we were having a hard time tracking down a food sensitivity. Don't be that lady.

The helpful places I found were (as mentioned above) but also and the kellymom breastfeeding support group on facebook. They support women who choose to breastfeed from one day up to many years with no judgement and lots of very helpful been-there-done-that mother-to-mother help backed up with science and research based advice and recommendations - INCLUDING help weaning, if that is what your niece-in-law decides is what is best for her. Lots of help on how to get more sleep including discussions on if co-sleeping/bed-sharing would work or how to get the kid to sleep better in a crib.

But that isn't even what your question actually is about. (!!!) It was about what local services can you suggest to her. I wish I could help you with that part, but it sounds like your ideas of poop-scooping/dog-walking (the dog-walking part was the hardest for me with that age of baby) and house cleaner would be WONDERFUL.
posted by jillithd at 2:43 PM on January 7, 2015 [14 favorites]

Yeah, seconded - don't suggest that she change the way she's feeding her kid. It can be a very, very emotional and personal subject for all sorts of reasons. Unless you have some reason to believe she is unaware of the existence of formula, just leave that subject well alone.

Your suggestions are pretty good, but I would also say that even if you don't get any decent location-specific recommendations on here, it would still be a kind and useful thing to do some research of available services in their area and present that to them. "You could hire a dog-walker" is helpful - "you could hire a dog-walker, I know you're busy so I looked around on [Yelp or wherever] and these 5 come really highly recommended" is even better.
posted by Catseye at 3:09 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

It sounds like your niece could really benefit from a mother's helper. Someone to work about 20 hours a week who could do a morning daycare drop off, go grocery shopping, prepare dinner to be reheated later, organize and manage a house cleaner and a dog walking/poop scooping service.

To find such a person, I would recommend either a) reading the previous Asks about personal assistants, b) contacting the family studies department at a local university and asking for a recommendation, or c) asking around your (or your niece's) friend network for suggestions of people who are looking for a part time job.
posted by OrangeDisk at 3:14 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I am in Sacramento, and also a lawyer and a mom to young kids. You did not mention this, but if she is a trial lawyer living in Carmichael she probably has a pretty crappy commute on top of the rest of it. No wonder they are overwhelmed.

There is a local mother/attorney who started a service called Second Wife for just this sort of situation, although I don't think they cover pets or meals. I bet they have suggestions for both, though.

She might also look into this local support group that is specifically for attorneys who are mothers to young children. I'm not a member but I know several people who have found it really helpful.
posted by xeney at 3:51 PM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]

I, as a mother of a very young child, would put you immediately on the "DO NOT TALK TO" list if you told me to stop pumping or breastfeeding. That is such an intensely personal decision, and I'm still pissed at my own mother for suggesting that to me MONTHS ago when we were having a hard time tracking down a food sensitivity. Don't be that lady.


Not my proudest postpartum moment, but my mother's suggestion once when I complained that I was sleep deprived that I wean my baby lead me to shout "fuck you" into the receiver and launch the phone across the room.

Also, cutting down on pumping or cutting night feedings, particularly, could cause her supply to take a hit. Night feedings are particularly important for maintaining milk supply because night nursing suppresses estrogen and maintains higher prolactin levels. Some women's supplies can keep up with fewer feedings or fewer night feedings, but not everyone's can. If breastfeeding is important to her, I'd generally let her navigate that herself rather than inserting myself into that process.

More practically:

For example, I suggested she have a housekeeper come in once or twice a week to do laundry, clean the house, change the beds, etc. They have two dogs, so I can suggest that she hire a poopscooping service to come and take care of the yard on a regular schedule. I'd also like to suggest that she get someone to come in and make a week's worth of meals for she and my nephew to eat during the work week.

As someone with a 1-year-old, suggestions like these would read as more work to me. Not sure if you live close by, but can you make these calls for her instead?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:52 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]

The best help that you can give is to stop offering suggestions and start asking questions.

1) Do you need anything?
2) I'm going by the market later, what are you out of, I'll drop it off at your house.
3) My friend Mrs. So and So recommends this cleaning service. I'm treating you to their first cleaning so that you can try them out. What day is good for them to come by? Would you like me to be there to let them in while you are at work so that you can come home to a clean house and a meal cooked by me?
4) You are doing an amazing job as a mommy and I am inspired by your ability to juggle work and baby. I know it has to be hard and I would like to help out. What day is a good day for me to swing by and pick up your car to have it serviced and cleaned? I'm happy to take baby with me on this errand (we will just be sitting in a waiting room anyway) so that you and my nephew can have a nap or run errands.
posted by myselfasme at 4:11 PM on January 7, 2015 [15 favorites]

Agreed -- please do not tell an overwhelmed new parent to change the way she is handling her baby's sleeping and eating. That has never in the entire history of parenting been helpful or welcome. You are just adding to the stress.

I mean, if she ASKS, sure. But your impulse to provide practical help -- a mother's helper, a housekeeper, etc. -- is good. I'd continue to keep your nose out of the care and feeding discussion.

(Sac State is a good source for mother's helpers/dog walkers/etc., and not far from Carmichael.)
posted by xeney at 4:15 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

I mean, quitting breastfeeding was the best thing I did as a mom when pumping was taking up all of my available energy and other moms/women telling me that it was okay to quit was incredibly helpful to ease the useless mommy guilt about it. So there's that.
posted by lydhre at 6:16 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Some responses to all of the great suggestions given:

I would never interfere or provide advice on how she feeds the baby. I've never had children, so I'm especially unqualified to comment on that. Anyway, the baby is so off-the-charts healthy and gorgeous that it's pretty hard to argue that they should change anything they're doing in that regard.

If I lived anywhere near them, I would already be trying to help out by doing their grocery shopping/running errands/whatever, but I live on the East Coast. The only thing I can provide is a sympathetic ear - an ear chosen, I think, precisely because I'm also a lawyer but not a mommy.

I am most definitely planning to do the research for her, make the calls to the service providers and then present her with a list of those that I've already pre-vetted. That was the whole point of posting this question - to see if there was a one-stop shopping point I was missing before I start researching individual services. She is clearly too overwhelmed to take on yet another research project, but relative to the NIL and nephew, I have all the time in the world to do this kind of stuff.

I marked this as the best answer, for the very specific resources that were recommended and which I will start looking into tomorrow. There were several other very helpful posts, and I appreciate all of the input - even the posts that inspired some arguably off-topic debate. It gives me more insight into how fraught this all must be for a first time mom trying to just make the right choices.

Thanks to all who responded.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 6:51 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]

If I could add my two cents as a new working mom...
See what kind of pump she has, and see if she'd be interested in the Freemie. It's hands-free, so she could keep working while pumping (helps a lot at work!)
She could also consider getting dictation onto her computer so that when her hands are busy (pumping or holding the baby) she can still be working.
She can basically get all of her baby needs delivered through - this has saved us oodles of time and money. She can do the same with toiletries with and food with vine. I have regularly automatic bi-monthly deliveries for all of my needs and it works out great.

I also had someone come in and make a week's worth of meals and it was amazing!! We just reheated the food - and there are still items in the freezer 3 months later. could have some potential hires. In terms of who to hire, she could go the nanny/house keeper route - a single person to do everything including run errands and maybe make dinner. It'll be pricey, but may be easier to have one person do all these things. Or she could hire multiple people to:
Clean house
Run errands
Make meals

It's nice of you to do this! Good luck!
posted by Toddles at 4:47 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oops - one more suggestion on the 'getting things delivered' bit. She can also get all of her professional work clothing delivered too using typical stores like, but also newer options like in which a stylist actually picks out the items for you.
posted by Toddles at 5:10 AM on January 8, 2015

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