What these new parents asked their friends to do made our jaws drop
Adjusting to life with a newborn can be overwhelming. Yes, friends and family say they'll help, and a couple will bring over dinner, but most think that "helping" means holding your new baby while you sort laundry and do dishes. Many new parents find it awkward to ask for the help they really need, like walking the dog or throwing out old food from the fridge.
One American couple had no such qualms and put their eight (very specific) requests right out there on Google Docs for all of their Facebook friends to see. One of those "friends" sent their plea for help to Gawker; endless mocking ensued. Yes, their list was rather specific, including asks like this: "Drop off a big super greek salad with grilled chicken. We will dress it ourselves at home. Or, drop off frozen homemade food like lasagna we can reheat later." And this: "Make a giant pot of vegetable soup in our kitchen and clean the kitchen completely afterwards. Then take a big garbage bag and empty every trash basket in the house. Reline the kitchen garbage can with a fresh bag."
But really, can we blame them?
After all, those tiresome chores pile up when a baby arrives on the scene. Let's not forget how many baby books advise new parents to ask for help with household chores so they can bond with their bundle of joy. Even after an uncomplicated birth, a mum's body is still in recovery mode for days or weeks afterwards. Tasks like folding laundry or vacuuming can be taxing. Is it any wonder request number five read: "Come over in your work clothes and vacuum, dust, clean the litter box, and then leave quietly. It might be too tiring for me to chat and entertain, but it will renew my soul to get some rest knowing I will wake up to a clean, organised space."?
Gawker chastised these detail-oriented parents for their bossiness, commenting that the note was "Written in the kind of direct, uncompromising language you might use when teaching a dog to sit (assuming you wanted to lose that dog as a friend)." We agree that their requests could use a bit of a PR polish and spin, but we're ready to give them a pass. After all, as new parents they're likely sleep-deprived and eloquence is often the first thing to go.
While many mocked them on Gawker, other commenters were more forgiving, like "MsxHill," who wrote, "I actually know of at least one other person who has made this kind of list, and it doesn't particularly bother me. Here's why: 1.) The person in question really was/is the kind of person who would do all these things for her friends. You get that kind of loyalty by being the kind of person who organises these things for others. 2.) Newborns are challenging. It's a whole lot of work and a whole lot of exhaustion. I can't tell you how many times I've heard this exact story: "My mother-in-law, whom I detest, stayed with us for an entire month and helped with keeping our household together while I recouped from giving birth, and it was a godsend. I don't know where I would be now without her.”
Here's the letter in full:
We are beginning to settle into a routine with our sweet baby girl and have visitors. [Parent] and I put together a list of "helpfuls" if you would like to come over and help us out during this transitional period into parenthood. Please visit this google doc:
Dear friends and family,
The following helpful list are the kind things that we will remember and appreciate forever. This is what [Parent]'s body and soul needs, and will be most helpful for our bonding with the baby. By devoting just a few hours doing one of these things, we will get the support and rest we need with our newborn in the house.
[Two Chill Parents]
1. Ask us what groceries we need around the house and bring them to us. We likely need toilet paper and milk.
2. Drop off a big super greek salad with grilled chicken. We will dress it ourselves at home. Or, drop off frozen homemade food like lasagna we can reheat later.
*Allergies/intolerances include: Soy anything (including tempeh and tofu), carrageenan, guar gum, gum acacia, xanthan gum, carob bean gum (anything with the word GUM in it), lentils — Please read labels. Many of these ingredients are in store bought food.
3. Come over at about 2 in the afternoon, hold the baby while I have a hot shower, put me to bed with the baby and then complete one or more household chores, such as:
-scoop the litter box
-take [our dog] for a well deserved walk or run around the neighborhood or park
-clean the kitchen or the bathroom
4. Come over at 10am, make me eggs, toast, and ½ a grapefruit. Clean my fridge and throw anything out that you doubt — don't ask me, just use your best judgment. Clean the kitchen stove and the kitchen floor.
5. Come over in your work clothes and vacuum, dust, clean the litter box, and then leave quietly. It might be too tiring for me to chat and entertain, but it will renew my soul to get some rest knowing I will wake up to a clean, organized space.
6. Take [our dog] for a well-deserved long walk or run around our neighborhood or Prospect Park.
7. Come over to fold laundry or clean and give [Parent] a break so she can go enjoy some r & r, go to a coffee shop, a bar, or something else fun. Vacuum and fold more laundry. Clean the litter box.
8. Make a giant pot of vegetable soup in our kitchen and clean the kitchen completely afterwards. Then take a big garbage bag and empty every trash basket in the house. Reline the kitchen garbage can with a fresh bag.
Did your friends and family help with nitty-gritty chores after your little one arrived, or were you were left to fend for yourself more than you were ready for? What sorts of "help" did you find most useful?