A couple days after I had given birth, my partner’s mom was at my house to visit and help with some meal prep and cleaning. I was just figuring out how to nurse my baby, had cracked nipples, and was in desperate need for some sleep. Although my partner’s mom was trying to be helpful, she kept asking me questions about what I wanted help with around the house, if I wanted her to start a load of laundry, if she should empty the dishwasher. I just kept responding with “I don’t know”.
I literally didn’t have the energy to answer any questions.
After I answered that way to more than one of her questions, she took it upon herself to make some food, take care of some dishes, and sweep the kitchen floor. Now that I’m 11 months postpartum, I think it would have been helpful to have prepared a list of chores for people to see as they entered the house to visit the newborn and me.
Here is a general list of chores that you can hang so your visitors can feel helpful and you can feel at peace:
- Take out garbages/empty diaper pail— it can be hard to do that one handed.
- Clean out the fridge and make a list of what is needed, or just let the spinach rot, no judgement.
- Give the bathroom a good scrubbing, because everybody deserves a clean bathroom.
- Change the sheets on the bed of the grown ups and the baby, you can only cover spit-up with a towel for so long before it starts to really stink!
- Fill multiple water bottles/glasses for mama, she’s thirsty even if she says she’s not.
- Organize dirty laundry/wash/fold/put away laundry. Obviously.
- Collect cups and dishes from the inevitable meals eaten around the house.
- Clean breast pump parts/bottle parts, because nobody should have to do that at 2am
- Clean out the car (the one thing I didn’t get to on my list before I gave birth)
- Show the pets some love: take the dogs for a walk, play some fetch, or clean the cat’s litter box.
- Water the plants!
- Make sure there are clean towels, wash cloths, and burp rags.
- Dust, vacuum, mop and the other boring basics that are definitely not getting done so early in the baby game.
And of course, if you have certain things you like done certain ways list those instead. If you like having your windows washed weekly, add that to the list. If you don’t want anybody touching your laundry— put that on the list!
People aren’t mind readers, and the amount of bandwidth a new mama has for menial questions is very little.
Help your friends help you by getting your needs written down before that baby is out!