Wondering how grandparents can help new parents? Here are 10 parent-approved ways.
Whether it’s their first baby or their fourth, parents of a newborn usually appreciate all the help they can get. Grandparents can help new parents in a variety of ways, whether they live nearby or across the world. The best part? Grandparents who offer meaningful support to parents are actually laying the foundation for strong bonds with their new grandchild.
As much as you want to spend your time doting on that new baby, putting your energy towards helping new parents will pay far greater dividends in the long run. By focusing on them, you’ll prove that you value your relationship with them—apart from their role as your grandchild’s parents.
When thinking about how to help new parents, don’t forget that the non-birthing parent needs help and support as well. It’s sometimes easy to overlook the partner that didn’t give birth, but they are also adjusting to their new role and the new demands on the family. Likewise, adoptive parents will need just as much support as any other parents.
As you read through the following ideas for helping new parents, keep in mind Rule Number One of successful grandparents: ASK FIRST. Don’t ever assume that your idea of how to help will be what new parents actually need. Read through these ideas, and pay close attention to number 9 and 10—they are the key to it all!
Ten ways to help new parents
Drop off dinner, or send a gift card to a local restaurant or delivery service. Find out if anyone has set up a meal team, and set one up if no one has. MealTrain.com and LotsaHelpingHands.com both offer online calendars so friends and family can coordinate meals for the family. We have many more tips for how grandparents can help new parents with meals in this post.
2: Household help
Ask for a list of things that need to be done in and around the house. Think beyond dishes and laundry: are there minor repairs that you could make, lightbulbs to change, a lawn to mow or flowerpots to water? If you aren’t local, look into hiring help if you can afford to.
3: Run errands
What errands could you do to help new parents? Return library books or drop off dry cleaning? Make a grocery run or pick up prescriptions? Take the car for an oil change, or just fill it with gas? Check with mom or dad to find out what you could take off their plate.
4: Walk the dog
It’s easy for our furry family members to feel neglected when a new baby arrives. Taking the dog for a walk or playing fetch can help their transition, too. And nothing lets your adult children know you love them like offering to clean the cat’s litter box or scoop poop.
5: Play chauffeur
Getting places with a new baby is a struggle in the beginning, and it just gets harder with subsequent children! Having someone else take the wheel on an outing to a doctor’s appointment or the grocery store can feel like a luxury, especially if you offer to wait in the car with the baby while they take care of business.
6: Surprise the parents
While your instinct will be to buy gifts for your grandchild, don’t forget about their parents. Sending their favorite chocolates or a book you think they’d like is a way to make them feel loved. Send them our Cheat Sheet for Delighting to find out what their favorite small indulgences are, and then use it to surprise them from time to time.
7: Don’t ask how they are
Dr. Perry Mandanis recently shared during an Instagram Live that he likes to ask new parents “How are you coping?” He explained that those words allow them to share what they may be struggling with, because it shows you expect things to be difficult and not perfect. If you ask “How are you?”, the answer will probably be, “Fine”, whether they are or not.
8: Send encouraging messages
Don’t underestimate the power of a text that says, “You are an amazing parent!” Look for chances to point out what a good job they are doing as they learn their new role. If they send a picture of your grandbaby, don’t just comment on how cute the baby is. Instead, respond with “That adorable baby is clearly thriving! You are doing such a great job!” or “I’m so grateful you keep me updated—you’re such a thoughtful daughter-in-law!”
9: Ask what would be most helpful
Some parents welcome all the help they can get. Others see offers to assist as insulting or interfering. It’s important to know how your grandchild’s parents feel on the subject. Have a conversation or send an email to find out. Let them know you want to support them, and ask if they are open to help. Then outline the ideas you have, and ask if there are any that would work for them. Invite them to suggest other ways you could be useful. If they decline all help, let them know you are available if they ever change their mind.
10: Respect their wishes
This is listed last, but it’s actually the most helpful thing you can do. Whether you call them requests, boundaries, rules or demands, parents aren’t asking you to comply if it makes sense to you. When new parents make their wishes known, smart grandparents listen and go along with the request.
Have you found other ways to help new parents? Please share them in the comments!