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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 Brooklyn 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 mom'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, organized 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 organizes 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.”
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?
Dana Macario is a Seattle-area mom who had no idea how helpful it would be to have friends show up with hot meals after she gave birth --until they did it.