Every mom can use an extra hand around the house in the weeks following the arrival of a new baby. Often times, the constant visits and offers of support end up stressing Mom out more than helping! In this interview segment, certified doula and childbirth educator Brenda Kay Shumway discusses a unique idea called the “Mommy-Do” Box. Click on the play button below to listen now!
BRENDA KAY SHUMWAY: I think another thing is when women are in that new postpartum period, a lot of people come to visit her. Although that’s wonderful, everybody wants to show off their new baby, it’s also very exhausting.
INTERVIEWER: It’s stressful, isn’t it?
BRENDA KAY SHUMWAY: It is extremely stressful. And what a lotta people don’t realize is this woman has, probably the last month or six weeks of her pregnancy, not slept well. She’s had a lot of misery, a lot of heartburn, a lot of swollen ankles, and maybe a lot of prenatal testing going on, along with maybe her job, her other kids. She’s gone through twelve to thirty-six to forty-eight hours of labor, given birth. The baby doesn’t let her sleep after that because “I want to be fed every hour and a half to two hours ‘round the clock.” And “Oh, my gosh, I have to put myself together so I can have company.” So if we’re aware of that as visitors when we see mom being a little bit wound, maybe we can not just say, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do” but have some really concrete ideas into place and just do ‘em for her.
INTERVIEWER: I think if you are a visitor, probably the best thing that you could do is, number one, call before you come and say, “Don’t worry if the house isn’t perfect. If you need me to pick up something or clean this or help with dinner,” and just be that kind of a support as well, do you think that would work?
BRENDA KAY SHUMWAY: Oh, I think that’s a wonderful, wonderful friend that just assumes that we’re gonna be kind of a mess. When I go into a woman’s house to maybe do her little postpartum visit or to help with a little breastfeeding, if her home is kind of a wreck I always congratulate her. Because that really shows that she’s spending her time and attention on what she needs to, which is herself and her baby. And just say, “I just want you to know I’m so happy. I’m so happy to see,” you know, “there’s laundry over here. And I’m gonna, if you don’t mind, I’m just gonna get in your little space here and I’m just gonna do a little bit’a stuff that I would want to have done. If that’s okay.” And usually these are people that I’ve kind of developed that kinda relationship I can do that.
I would love to just kind of throw this out there for people.
A great baby gift or a great way to kind of have a little thing to do to keep your mind off of “When is this baby gonna come?” is to make what I call a Mommy-Do box. And your Mommy-Do box looks kind of like a recipe box. And on one side it has a chore. It has “Vacuum my living room” or “Put my stuff in the dryer” or “Put away my dishes. I don’t care if you put ‘em in the right place” or “Pick up my prescription at the drug store” or “Pick up Tom’s dry cleaning.” And on the back there’s a place for their friend to sign their name. And when they come in, the Mommy-Do box is right there, at mom’s bedside because people are gonna come visit her in her bed ‘cause sheS recuperating, right?
BRENDA KAY SHUMWAY: She’s not in the living room entertaining friends. So when they say, “Let me know if there’s something I can do,” dad says, “Oh! Here’s our Mommy-Do box. Choose something and sign the back. And then in six months when we’re feeling more like ourselves again, we’ll send you a thank-you card.” And that’s a really great way for a mom to give permission. It’s okay for you to look in my cabinets. It’s okay for you to see my dirty laundry. It’s okay for you to see my dry cleaning bill. And that way it takes care of some of that stuff that otherwise moms worry about as they sleep.
INTERVIEWER: Brenda, I love that idea! Absolutely love it!
BRENDA KAY SHUMWAY: Well, I think it’s just a practical way to give permission on both sides. It’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay to give it.
INTERVIEWER: And doesn’t it make you a little bit closer with that friendship when you share something that personal.