Service-based new baby gift in London
May 26, 2016 9:58 AM   Subscribe

My brother and his wife are expecting their first child any day now. I want to get them a service-type gift they can use to make their lives easier post-baby.

The consensus on Metafilter seems to be that unless you know exactly what the new parents want and need, the very best present of all is the gift of time, whether it's having someone else clean the house, or someone else cook the food, or someone else do the [other chore].

Fortunately, this type of gift is the only thing I can realistically provide, as they live in London and I live in Los Angeles; while I could probably order them something off, I have no idea what they want/need, and I think other family members have the material stuff covered. So, I want to give them some sort of useful service, something they can "activate" with a minimum of fuss.*

So, beloved aunts and uncles of Metafilter, what was the best gift you gave your siblings when they reproduced? Parents of Metafilter, what was the most appreciated service anyone did for you or had someone do for you post-baby? London-dwellers, can you recommend services in accord with answers to the foregoing questions?

I am very open to highly-specific recommendations - if you live in London and have a fabulous housecleaner that would be willing to do this type of thing, by all means memail me their info.

Possibly-pertinent extra info:

- they live in Wimbledon (is Wimbledon big enough that an even more specific location would be helpful?)

- they do have a car, so Zipcar type gifts are out

- they almost certainly already have Amazon Prime/Netflix/HBO

- there are no family members in the area who will be providing babysitting/cleaning/cooking in the immediate future

Thank you Metafilter for saving me from being a deadbeat aunt/sister!

* What I mean by this I will explain by a very inappropriate analogy, which is that e.g., when you get a dogwalker for the first time, you can't just give them the keys and have them show up and walk the dog; they have to come first to the house, meet you and the dog, discuss neuroses/training needs/etc, and only then can you begin retaining them for walks. Obviously house cleaning does not operate on that model, but this kind of hoop in general is the type of thing I want to spare them.
posted by Aubergine to Shopping (13 answers total)
Hello Fresh has a UK version, and we have just been talking about these ingredient/recipe delivery services on the blue.

I can see new parents appreciating having some of the hassle taken out of making a tasty meal a few times a week.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:08 AM on May 26, 2016

Find out what their favorite takeaway meal is, and arrange for it to be delivered to them sometime in the first week. The people who insisted they could bring dinner over were a lifesaver for me and my husband. I honestly wouldn't have been able to cook anything like a Hello Fresh or a Plated meal. But that's nice for a little ways in when you get sick of takeaway and frozen pizza.

General grocery delivery would be awesome too, not sure if those services exist, but not having to go to the store for essentials was nice.
posted by cabingirl at 11:42 AM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have a house cleaner which comes every 2 weeks. Costs £11/hour (Usual rate is closer to £10, but I was happy with £11). I found a cleaner on Gumtree (personal ads, like Craiglist), and now she comes regularly!

There are other apps like Handy app or TaskRabbit that you can book a cleaner through (like Uber for cleaners). I have tried both of these, and
a) they tend to be more expensive
b) some of the money gets sent to the platform, which I don't like
c) The Cleaners! Just! Don't! Turn! Up! Three times I used the bloody Handy app and all three times the cleaners called me 30 minutes to an hour before and said they were sick. I think it's to do with lack of personal responsibility, no background checks -- people just sign up on the app to test out becoming cleaners, and then they get an assignment, and it's like ... whoops.

My recommendation to you would be to go through Gumtree, choose a non-agency ad, then call them up (really easy, using Skype) for cleaning on a set time and set date -- like every Wednesday at 9am. Then bank transfer to your brother enough money to pay for weekly cleaning sessions for, say three months. Your brother or his wife might have to pay the cleaner themselves in cash, but it's nice to have someone sort it out for you. Takes out the hassle of thinking.
posted by moiraine at 11:45 AM on May 26, 2016

* What I mean by this I will explain by a very inappropriate analogy, which is that e.g., when you get a dogwalker for the first time, you can't just give them the keys and have them show up and walk the dog; they have to come first to the house, meet you and the dog, discuss neuroses/training needs/etc, and only then can you begin retaining them for walks.

I just saw this, and yeah, I can't help you there. To be honest, my cleaner did it right the first time and we just kept her on ever since. Just, whatever you do, don't use the Handy app.
posted by moiraine at 11:49 AM on May 26, 2016

I would recommend a voucher for a Sunday roast delivery service...

Another nice thing would be a drop off babysitting service voucher. My city has a small baby (0-walking) babysitting place in town, it's very small, magically decorated and full of bubbly sweet ladies busy dangling things in front of the babies and feeding them etc... That was really nice!
posted by catspajammies at 12:22 PM on May 26, 2016

Also, I loved the idea of hello fresh when we were talking about how to do meals with a newborn, but the reviews turned us off it- it seemed like they made it difficult to cancel and the ingredients didn't stick to a high standard.
posted by catspajammies at 12:25 PM on May 26, 2016

Thanks for the suggestions so far - re "meal prep" delivery, I had considered something like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh or whichever is available in the UK, but decided against it based on my own experience having used both. While the meals were good, the actual cooking, simple though it was, was occasionally too much of a hassle even for my louche childree lifestyle. Also, you still have to clean up after yourself, even if there might be fewer dishes in play.
posted by Aubergine at 12:30 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

An alternate service idea would be to give them certificates to get a sauna or massage that they can use once they're outside of the immediate post-partum stage, when they feel ready to leave baby for a couple of hours. They can go individually or as a couple, and will also be able to schedule it when it works for them (rather than trying to organize when a cleaner can come) and give them a reason to get out of the house in the near future.

Another idea (though not service oriented) is a keepsake item, like a silver rattle or baby's drinking cup that you have engraved. We got one for a god-son and the parents loved it. It sticks around for a long time, of course, which the massage/cleaning service/meals don't.
posted by stillmoving at 12:52 PM on May 26, 2016

When we brought our first child home a neighbor came over with several sizable catering trays of food, all fully cooked and ready to reheat and eat. They'd probably bought it from a caterer, and I'd recommend this sort of thing over nice ingredients that have to be cooked, at least in the first few weeks. This still stands out in my memory many years later. There was chicken piccata, and it was tasty and easy.
posted by Songdog at 1:23 PM on May 26, 2016

Cook vouchers for fabulous freezer food.

A night nanny for the first few weeks?
posted by KateViolet at 1:46 PM on May 26, 2016

Seconding Cook -- we got that as a gift when our new baby was born and it was fabulous. They deliver, or you could get a voucher.
posted by heavenknows at 2:45 PM on May 26, 2016

A life-saver for us was a diaper service, which I guess in the UK would be called "nappy service". This site looks like it might be able to help you locate a service in their area.
posted by trip and a half at 3:12 PM on May 26, 2016

Do you know your sister-in-law well enough to know if she'd like a gift certificate postpartum massage? There are places in the states that specalize in prenatal & postpartum massage, and they come to your house a few days/weeks after you've had the baby to help you recover from labor.

Also try looking for a night-nanny (pricey, but I'm told a night or two for the first few weeks can be an absolute life saver) and/or a postparttum doula (daytime help with the baby and low-level household chores).
posted by Jaclyn at 8:40 PM on May 26, 2016

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