Let’s agree that new moms shouldn’t be expected to send thank you notes
The real gift lies in letting a new mom know that it’s okay to shed outdated and unrealistic expectations put on moms.
After my first son was born, I spent a shocking amount of time writing thank you notes. While my baby napped, I wrote thank you notes. When my husband was holding our newborn, I wrote thank you notes. And when I wasn’t writing thank you notes, I was feeling guilty for the pile of baby thank you notes that hadn’t been written yet.
Sure, my husband helped with some of the notes, but he didn’t seem to feel the same pressure I did to get those notes out the door.
Society loves to thrust expectations and “shoulds” on new moms, most of which are contradictory or impossible. Among one of those outdated and unrealistic expecations is the one telling us we should send thank you notes, promptly. After all, aren’t we grateful for the generosity of others?
Here’s the thing: New moms are grateful. We are also exhausted and confused. We are consumed with worries about feeding schedules and safe sleeping recommendations. We can barely think straight, let alone put pen to paper in coherent expressions of gratitude. Some days we are barely hanging on by a thread.
Related: This is what it’s like to be a new mom
Some of us—like me after my first baby was born—spend time we should be sleeping writing thank you notes to assuage the guilt we’d feel about not sending them. Some of us don’t send them and still feel guilty. Others don’t send thank you notes—or take their time doing so—and are secretly judged by people who still expect to receive a note.
Can we all agree that new moms shouldn’t be expected to send thank you notes?
This might require a bit of a mindset shift to recognize that true expressions of gratitude aren’t borne out of obligation. And we can be very grateful for something and also unable to express that gratitude.
One of the biggest life lessons I’ve learned over the years is that we should do things because of the way they make us feel, not because we hope to be thanked. If we’re giving gifts—whether to a new mom or for a child’s birthday or what-have-you—we should do so with a generous heart, not because we want or need to be thanked for doing so. In fact, some of the gifts I’ve given that have been most appreciated, I never received a thank you note for.
Related: 10 true things about the first year of motherhood
Nowadays, whenever I send a baby gift, I try to include a note that says “no thank you note necessary.” Maybe that’s presumptuous, but I want new moms to know that there is no expectation to send one. The real gift lies in letting a new mom (or an experienced mom, for that matter) know that it’s okay to shed these outdated and unrealistic expectations put on moms.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t appreciate all the generosity that comes our way. Nor does it mean that we shouldn’t express our gratitude. What it does mean is that we should shed the expectation that gratitude is only expressed via a timely hand-written note.
Related: 14 ways to *really* help a new mom
So let go of the pressure to send a thank you note for all those baby gifts. Send a quick text instead. Or email your friends and family a photo that says something like, “Because you love me, you know how thankful I am for you.” If you really want to send a handwritten note, take your time.
And if you’re attending a baby shower or sending a gift to a new mom, consider writing a little note that says: “Give yourself the gift of time or sleep, and please don’t send a thank you note for this gift.” Believe me, the new mom will be more grateful than any words in a card could express.