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Why the best gift for a new mom isn't a gift

©iStockphoto.com/yuhirao Author: Canadian Living Credits: ©iStockphoto.com/yuhirao

Family

Why the best gift for a new mom isn't a gift

If you're a new mom, you've probably learned a lot more about motherhood than you ever thought you would. Despite the fact that there's nothing really new about motherhood -- let's face it, it's as old as humankind -- every new mother will embark on a journey that is incomparable to any other life experience. She'll discover things that are unique to her and her family, and each mother's experience will be exactly the same as, yet completely different from, any other mother's.

What new moms really want
Given that first-time motherhood is such a unique experience, it's difficult to know what new moms really want and need. If friends or family members of yours have recently had their first child, you may be looking for a gift for a new mom -- or perhaps you're considering how you can help. Interestingly, the things mothers want may be completely different from what you'd expect. We checked in with real moms to find out what they would have appreciated receiving from friends and family members. (And no, it's not another onesie!)

1. Spend time with others
"It was company that I craved, but couldn't get. Despite having grown into the best man in the world, my Calvin was a terror baby: crying, fussing, twisting…. He was never diagnosed with colic, but he was bad company as an infant. I love him madly and always have; I'm just being honest. And I was at my wits end. Not just tired, but bored out of my skull. I wish more people would have just stopped by and said, 'I don't know what you want to do -- go for a walk or park it here -- but I'd like to hang out with you, you and this crazy howler of yours.' Or 'I've got an hour (or 15 minutes or the entire afternoon) -- can I spend it with you?' That would have eased my frayed soul. I know people always feel like they can't drop by unannounced, but I disagree. New moms are usually up, so why not?" -- Jasmine

2. Help with household chores and babysitting
"When it comes to postpartum assistance, and having as many people in our household as we do, it was a real treat to have help with the housework, laundry and cleaning. Someone to run errands or bring the other kids to their activities would be really nice also. Above and beyond that is getting someone over to do your hair or watch the baby so you could go pamper yourself a bit, whether it be a mani-pedi, a massage or even just time to soak in the tub."  -- Jill

3. Someone to cook their meals
"The hardest thing to manage in the first few months was putting healthy meals together for my husband and me, which is especially critical if you''re breast-feeding. I didn't know about this at the time, but SupperWorks has this great package where friends of a mother-to-be can get together and make a month's worth of freezable meals. Such a great idea, and it would have been a huge help! And along the same lines, it's also really difficult to keep up on housecleaning if you're trying to follow advice and sleep when the baby sleeps. So gift certificates for a maid service would have been awesome as well." -- Jocelyn

4. A helping hand
"I would have loved it if someone had offered to pick up groceries, or to watch my baby while I hit the grocery store or napped, or to drive me to the pediatrician's since we didn't have a car at that time. It doesn't take a lot to help out in a big way. My partner and I received basically zero support, and it caused us to reevaluate our social and family relationships.

Conversely, one dear friend showed up for a five-minute visit the same day she brought me home from the hospital, just to drop off a box of breast pads, saying, 'Trust me, you're gonna need these!' It was a really practical, thoughtful gesture -- always the best kind for shell-shocked new parents!" -- Yuki

5. Someone to take care of me
"As for not getting what I really wanted...I can honestly say, someone to take care of me. I remember, with all three of my kids, having to entertain guests when they came over when all I wanted to do was spend time with the baby. I really wish someone could have been there to take care of me -- or at the very least, take care of the cooking or cleaning. For the second and third kid, it would have been amazing if someone had offered to take the other kids out for the day, not only to give me a break, but to give them the attention they deserved." -- Karen

6. Someone to do the laundry
"I needed medical things, such as a breast pump and nursing bras. My mother was most helpful because she cooked for me. I loved her blueberry pancakes. A laundress would have been nice, too. I couldn't believe how much laundry piled up and how tired I was." -- Carol

7. Connect with other moms
A mommy and me fitness class certificate. Not just for the fitness aspect -- which is great for obvious reasons -- but for the connection with other new moms. Most of these classes have discussion components to them. I made local connections (that is key) with people going through the same things. I was in pre- and postnatal yoga, and I'm still in touch with some of the other attendees regularly. It's really nice to know sometimes that what you're doing and feeling is normal. What better way than to have other new moms to discuss it with? -- Connie

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Why the best gift for a new mom isn't a gift

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