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21st Mar 2016

8 of the coolest things you can do for parents of small children

Sharyn Hayden

Parents with new babies get plenty of attention and help if they are surrounded by a decent network of family and friends – and so they should because they need it!

However, when the new baby isn’t a new baby any more, people tend to stop calling with dinners or even sending messages to ask if there’s anything that they can do to help.

I have always asserted that a new parent is still a new parent until their baby turns one – a mother definitely needs that amount of time to recovery physically, and often mentally, too, from the adjustment that is welcoming a new baby into their lives.

But it doesn’t end there!

Small kids are still busy little bees and can be quite the handful so if you know someone who might be a little under pressure juggling working and parenting life, why not be a great friend and try the following to show some support:

1. Do An Overnighter

This is the holy grail. So you might need to deal with an early morning start the next day but your pal does that every day of the week, so why not give them a break if you can? They will honestly love you forever.


2. Gift Them A Date Night

You will probably get turned down a lot on this one with ‘No, no, you have enough on your plate’ but keep offering. Send a card with a ‘This voucher entitles you to one evening’s free babysitting services, to expire on XXX’ (I also like to add a footnote with ‘I am his aunt, I HAVE RIGHTS ;o)’)

3. Invite Them Over

Invite your pal over at a time that you know suits, keeping small kids’ nap times in mind. Have the kettle on and some activities ready for the smallies – paper and crayons or an activity book would put a big smile on their faces and your mate can chill out for a few minutes to enjoy a catch-up with you.

4. Keep In Touch

Keep asking your friend how they are getting on. Post-natal depression affects many women in Ireland and can last well beyond the baby hitting the six month mark. Having someone to rely on when things get hard can make a huge difference to someone.


5. Bring Food

The friend who calls to my door with food that I haven’t had to make myself is a friend for life. I don’t have to have just had a baby for this to be magic – my friend understands that I am crazy busy with two small kids under my roof and is simply saying ‘Here’s one less thing for you to do’. Bliss..

6. Don’t Be Put Out

Always, always give your pal with small kids an opt-out clause. If you are inviting them somewhere, either with or without the kids, make sure to let them know that you completely understand if they have to bail last minute. High temperatures, surprise pukes, tantrums, naps can all conspire to interfere with a parent’s plans. It just happens. It can be stressful at the best of times so being a fabulous friend who doesn’t make a big deal out of it just makes you all the more lovely.

7. Be As Available As You Can Be

Sometimes parents are afraid to ask for help – it’s become a real societal problem that we no longer feel able to say ‘Would you watch them for an hour while I go to the shops?’ without feeling guilty. We should be doing this for each other all the time. If you know your friend is unlikely to ask for help, why not keep offering? Once they see that you and the kids are fine together for an hour here and there, they’ll relax.


8. Surprise Them

Plan a little trip to the park or playground and let the parent know that you will be there at a particular time and can drop the kids back an hour or so later. Even a half an hour is a brilliant help. If a parent has been up through the night and is now trying to figure out how to fill the day ahead while exhausted, this could be one of the best messages that they will receive. I 100% guarantee you that they will go back to bed for a snooze (and will never forget your kindness!)

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