"Let me know what I can do to help." We've all said it. And usually the response is, "I don't need anything," "I don't know" or "I'll let you know."
That's especially the case when speaking to a new mom. Yes, you mean it; you want to help. But how often do people really take someone up on that offer? Sometimes you need to actively care, which means help without asking.
We're not suggesting you show up unannounced, but rather you tell your friend or relative how you're going to help—rather than ask. For example, say, "I am going to come over and do your laundry. Does this afternoon work for you?"
To help you actively care for the new mom in your life, here are nine things you can do that are guaranteed to be useful.
Tackle household chores. Make yourself useful during your visit. Wash bottles or load the dishwasher. Run the washing machine or fold laundry. Or give her the gift of your own cleaning person (or hire someone if you don't have one) so she doesn't have to worry about dusting, mopping and more.
Take on her to-do list. Pick up the dry cleaning, get the groceries, fill prescriptions. New moms often feel like they have no time to cross off items on their to-do list. And they may not want to try to run errands with a baby in tow. Do her errands for her to help put her at ease.
Give the gift of time. Watch the little one so she can get out for a few hours or even just take a nap at her house (since few can follow the advice of "Sleep when the baby sleeps"). If you're short on time, lend her your babysitter or find one to help her.
Bring food after the supply is gone. New moms may be overloaded with sandwich platters and casseroles when they arrive home from the hospital. But once her spouse is back at work and visiting family has headed home, she'll likely need help with food. Help stock her freezer with some of her favorite foods. Not a cook? Shower her with a gift certificate for a favorite local restaurant that delivers.
Be her librarian. A new mom likely has a lot of questions about her bundle of joy. But she probably has little time to surf the Web to find these crucial answers. Make things easier for her by giving her a list of your favorite parent-oriented apps, along with an iTunes gift card.
Help with the other children. If she has other children, these kids may need a ride to daycare, school or after-school activities. And the thought of leaving the house with a newborn and a sibling can be daunting for any new mom. Shuttle the older child around or offer to watch the baby so mom can do it herself (which she may want to do so she can spend time with the older child). If your kids are friends with hers, you might host a play date at your house or take the kids on an outing so she doesn't have to worry about entertaining the older one.
Help with Buster. Or Bo or Spot or whatever his or her name may be. Walk the dog or take him for a visit to the groomer.
Assist "in the moment." That means calling her from the grocery store and saying, "I'm at the supermarket. What do you need?" Here, you're being direct and specific. Hopefully she'll be more likely to take you up on your offer.
Capture the moments. She may take a selfie with the baby and post it on Facebook. But she's likely taken few other pictures, and they're definitely trapped on her smartphone. Next time you're over, snap some shots of the baby. Then, print the photos and frame a few gems. Can't swing by for a visit? Consider printing ones she's posted on social media and mailing her a photo album of the shots.