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So your co-worker or friend just had a baby. And beyond the adorable onesie you bought her for the shower and the congrats text with the baby emoji, you have no idea what to do next.


But you want to help because you’ve heard the stories. A new mom is riding the 4th trimester roller coaster of her physical healing while figuring out how to keep a little helpless human alive while juggling the potential onslaught of family coming in to help or visit—with little to no sleep. So yes, she would love your help.

And no, she won’t ask for it because she’s too busy doing aforementioned things.

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I get it—it’s awkward for you, too. You’ve heard that the days and weeks that follow a baby are blurry and chaotic. You’ve probably read blogs where new moms lament over visitors who overstayed their welcome or did something else equally annoying. Or you’re weirded out by boobs and breastfeeding.

And you are just too nice of a person to risk frustrating your friend.

But can I offer a different perspective? This is an incredibly special and messy and crazy transition. And I bet—no, I know—she doesn’t want to do it alone.

Here’s a great rule of thumb to be a blessing to a friend you care about while also avoiding stepping on any toes: Don’t ask and make room.

Here’s what I mean by don’t ask

Don’t ask a new Mama if she needs anything—she will likely decline. Instead, tell her you want to do something to help, like cover a meal.

And here’s what I mean by ‘make room’

In your message, make room for her to tell you what helps her the most. Because that’s what you are going for, right?

But your burning question—what does she need?!

Here are 3 ideas that mean the world to new mama but won’t ask much of your wallet—

1. She needs food

A photo posted by Humairah Fahim (@humairahf) on

Sometimes the baby’s arrival is planned in advance and comes in right on time. Other times, the baby makes a surprise debut and, as you might have guessed, a grocery run before heading to the hospital is not going to happen.

Regardless of the baby’s arrival, cooking falls way down the priority list. So the simple, classic act of delivering a meal to them is a perfect way to take one thing off their minds, at least for that day!

Make a yummy dinner for the new parents and try to limit the prep they will have to do as much as possible. Bonus points if you drop it off in containers that you don’t care about seeing again because it’s one less thing to remember for new mama. Too busy to cook for yourself, let alone someone else? Get an idea of their favorite foods and use a delivery app like Eat24 to place an order on their behalf. (The delivery option is also a great idea if your friend lives out of town!)

Something like this text is perfect: “Hey New Mama! Thinking about you—life must be busy right now! I’d like to help by cover dinner for you sometime this week or next. What day is best? And what foods do you and hubby prefer?”

Want to go a little further? Drop off some easy snacks for the new mama. A friend of mine dropped off a huge container of cut-up strawberries and a gallon-sized bag of yummy homemade banana muffins about 10 days after I had my daughter. To this day, it’s one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received. I could eat them with one hand (because I was holding an infant in the other arm.) and they lasted a few days.

Pro tip: Many times there are family members around for a week or longer so make a reminder for yourself to reach out a week or two after the baby is born.

2. She needs help with self-care

After my daughter was born, my mom came to stay with us for a few days. She told me more than once that I needed a shower. And to change my shirt. Or, if I was getting edgy, she’d send me to my room to take a nap. And the sad thing is, I probably would not have remembered to do any of those things if it weren’t for her.

A newborn needs to eat every 2-3 hours—and they are not usually fast eaters. New mama is feeding her baby for about 30 minutes—1 hour around the clock. Through the night, she’s getting to sleep in 1-2 hour segments. And if she’s like me, she’s not taking the advice of veteran moms who tell you to sleep while your baby sleeps during the day.

So it’s no surprise that she’s tired. All the time.

You may hear New Mama talk about wearing the same clothes a few days in a row and here’s a big reason why: Spit up. Baby is spitting up his milk all day, usually after feedings. So why change your shirt if it’s just going to happen again 1 hour later? Plus, if she’s breastfeeding, she’s taking off her shirt every hour so it kinda counts as changing her clothes ... right?

Ask when you can come over to give mama a break. You’ll hold the baby (free snuggles for you!) while she can do whatever she needs to do: shower, sleep, get out of the house for a bit without baby in tow.

Want to go a bit further? Stay a little longer and clean something. Clean up her kitchen, vacuum the carpet, or if you are great friends, do some laundry. Because she definitely doesn’t want to do it but definitely wants it done. My best friend cleaned my whole house while I held my 4 week old daughter and I literally wept out of gratitude for it. (Yes, I was probably still hormonal at that point.)

3. She needs companionship.

Your friend’s world just got thrown upside down by the cutest little bundle of joy. But nothing is the same for her—her heart, her body, her mind. Nothing about her is untouched by having a child—her routine, her marriage, her finances, her everything. It is a great and glorious change but it. is. hard.

And, like a lot of hard things, it is lonely.

Because one thing that changes the most are her friendships. She doesn’t have the same amount of time to invest them. Girls’ Night Out, shopping trips, working out with her friends—whatever she enjoyed before baby as common blessings will instantly become rare luxuries.

And never will they be as freeform and spontaneous, because she’ll always have a little bit of her mind on her baby.

One of the best things you can give your New Mama friend is your company. You’ll want to be on time (new moms curse the “fashionably late” rule) and you’ll want to give advanced notice. An ideal visit is about 30 minutes unless she asks you to stay longer. Ask her how sleeping is going, how baby is feeding, how her heart and mind are doing. Put your phone away and listen.

She has so much to say & share with you—and maybe a few tears to cry.

Finally -two things to avoid—

1. Don’t avoid her or assume she’s too busy with baby.

Maternity leave is lonely. Raising a new baby is hard. Yes, there are so many cute photos on Instagram that paint a picture of everlasting bliss but don’t be fooled. Is your life as good as you make it look on social media? Yea, I thought so.

While she might not want to hang out for more than 20 minutes, your New Mama friend does crave a sense of normalcy—aka time with you.

2. Avoid sharing crazy baby stories you heard about from the Internet or your cousin.

Listen, I know this sounds weird but New Mama goes into hyper-drive of all that could go wrong in her baby’s world. I once got angry while on a walking on a sidewalk next to a busy street because the street no guard rails—because what if a stroller got loose and rolled into oncoming traffic?!

Not only that, but New Mama is hyper-aware of every sound or movement the baby makes that isn't normal. She has her baby’s doctor on speed-dial to double check anything and everything that seems odd.

So save your crazy, death-defying, did-you-hear-about-this stories for another time. She doesn’t want to hear it.

At the end of the day, I encourage you to enter into her life in whatever way you can.

Offer to come over and then serve her with all your heart—because she’s giving her entire body to serve her little one. This is a new side of her that you get to know and she’ll be there for you when and if it’s your turn. It’s a beautiful transition and she wants you to be a part of it.

Just bring some snacks with you.

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Mornings can be so rough making sure everyone has what they need for the day and managing to get out the door on time. A recent survey by Indeed found that 60% of new moms say managing a morning routine is a significant challenge, and another new survey reveals just why that is.

The survey, by snack brand Nutri-Grain, suggests that all the various tasks and child herding parents take on when getting the family out the door in the morning adds up to basically an extra workday every week!

Many parents will tell you that it can take a couple of hours to get out of the house each morning person, and as the survey found, most of us need to remind the kids "at least twice in the morning to get dressed, brush their teeth, or put on their shoes."

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According to Nutri-Grain, by the end of the school year, the average parent will have asked their children to hurry up almost 540 times across the weekday mornings.

We totally get it. It's hard to wait on little ones when we have a very grown-up schedule to get on with, but maybe the world needs to realize that kids just aren't made to be fast.

As Rachel Macy Stafford, the author of Hands Free Mama, Hands Free Life, writes, having a child who wants to enjoy and marvel at the world while mama is trying to rush through it is hard.

"Whenever my child caused me to deviate from my master schedule, I thought to myself, 'We don't have time for this.' Consequently, the two words I most commonly spoke to my little lover of life were: 'Hurry up.'" she explains.

We're always telling our kids to hurry up, but maybe, maybe, we should be telling ourselves—and society—to slow down.

That's what Stafford did. She took "hurry up" out of her vocabulary and in doing so made that extra workday worth of time into quality time with her daughter, instead of crunch time. She worked on her patience, and let her daughter marvel at the world or slow down when she had to.

"To help us both, I began giving her a little more time to prepare if we had to go somewhere. And sometimes, even then, we were still late. Those were the times I assured myself that I will be late only for a few years, if that, while she is young."

It's great advice, but unless we mamas can get the wider world on board, it's hard to put into practice. When the school bus comes at 7:30 am and you've gotta be at the office at 8 am, when the emails start coming before you're out of bed or your pay gets docked if you punch in five minutes late, it is hard to slow down.

So to those who are making the schedules the rest of us have to live by, to the employers and the school boards and the wider culture, we ask: Can we slow down?

Indeed's survey suggests that the majority of moms would benefit from a more flexible start time at work and the CDC suggests that starting school later would help students.

Mornings are tough for parents, but they don't have to be as hard as they are.

[This post was originally published May 17, 2019.]

News

Teaching science to your child can sound kind of daunting. Don't be put off by memories of high school physics, though—science for little kids should be fun!

Science activities for toddlers and preschoolers are all about exploration and supporting the natural curiosity within each child. Children are born curious. All we have to do is provide the tools to explore the world around them, and encourage them to ask questions and follow their interests.

While science for little kids is all about fun, there is no reason to dumb it down. Feel free to use real scientific terminology wherever you can (kids are surprisingly receptive to it), and introduce the scientific method by asking kids for their hypothesis before you do an experiment together: What do they think will happen? Why?

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Whether you're interested in STEM-based projects to do at home or just need ideas for helping kids explore their world, these activities can help your family incorporate science education into your everyday life.

Here are 9 easy science activities and experiments to do with preschoolers and toddlers.

1. Observe a life cycle

Butterflies are fascinating to children, and not only because they're beautiful. The process of transforming from a caterpillar to a butterfly can seem pretty magical.

Butterfly kits let your child watch the process of a life cycle up close. For toddlers, just observing the caterpillar, looking closely at the chrysalis and watching the beautiful butterflies that (eventually) emerge is enough. For preschoolers, you may want to prompt them to draw what they see at each stage, or to write a few words about the process.

A book about butterflies (or this one for toddlers) can further support their interest.

Take this activity a step further by creating a butterfly garden in your backyard, or finding a local butterfly garden where you can release the butterflies.

2. Create a habitat

Is your child fascinated by roly polies, ladybugs or snails? Creating an insect habitat, whether in a bug box or just a corner of your backyard, is a great way to stoke that interest.

What do ladybugs eat? Where do they like to sleep? These kinds of questions can really inspire a child to think like a scientist and are super easy to answer, either though a trip to the library or a quick Google search.

3. Sink + float

This is the simplest possible experiment, but that doesn't make it any less fun. Fill a container (or the bathtub) with water, gather some objects, and ask your child which objects they think will sink, and which they think will float.

Then let them experiment! A toddler will most likely just play in the water with the objects, and you can point out that some sink to the bottom and some float on top.

For a preschooler, you may want to encourage them to categorize which items sink and which float. They can make a list, or simply divide the objects into two piles. Then you can compare the categories and talk about why some things sink and others float.

You can do "sink and float" again and again with different themes. Try using objects you find in nature or using items from the kitchen.

4. Build a marble run

Using simple materials such as paper towel tubes, cardboard, yarn, tape and glue, challenge your preschooler to make a ramp for a marble to go down. (Toddlers can do a version of this experiment using a rubber ball in place of a marble.) Your child can experiment to see what slopes and what materials make the marble travel the fastest!

5. Watch the weather

Observing the weather is something even young toddlers enjoy. Talk to them about the vocabulary for different types of weather and invite them to help you check the weather before getting dressed each day. If they enjoy this, try setting up a weather station they can be in charge of, and let them play mini meteorologist.

6. Stargaze

If your goal is to ignite your child's curiosity in science and the world around them, anything outer space-related is a pretty good bet.

Try reading a book about space (this one is great!) to inspire some real-world stargazing. You can invest in a telescope if they're really into it, or you can also enjoy a special stargazing time with your child using no equipment other than a blanket for the backyard—and maybe a cozy snack or some hot cocoa.

Look up into the night sky together and talk about what you see. You don't need to be a NASA scientist or know the names for all the constellations: The moon and the big dipper are plenty fascinating for a little kid.

With regular stargazing sessions, your child will start to notice things like the phases of the moon, the movement of the moon across the sky, and the way that stars form "pictures" in the sky. They might even see a shooting star! That is the kind of experience that will not only spark their interest in science, but that will stay with them as a special memory forever.

7. Study animals

Have you ever known a 3-year-old who can name every player on the Yankees, or can rattle off the names of more dinosaurs than you've ever heard of? Young children can absorb so many words—why not put that skill to good use?

This science activity comes straight from the Montessori classroom and encourages young children's desire to absorb precise and rich language.

Choose an animal they're interested in and help them learn the scientific names for the body parts. It's extra fun to choose an animal your child has real life experience with, like a dog or a squirrel. You can use the Montessori parts of an animal puzzle and labels, or simply use a drawing or photograph of the animal and label the parts for your child.

8. Experiment with ice

Fill two ice cube trays, one with water and one with salt water. Put them in the freezer (or outside, if it's cold enough where you live!) and observe to see which freezes faster.

Freeze some small toys (like these Toob animals) in ice and ask your child for ideas on how to get them out.

There are tons of easy experiments you can do with ice whether it's winter or summer—in winter, watch things freeze outside, and in summer you can watch them melt!

9. Make a rainbow

Few scientific activities are simpler than making a rainbow with a prism and sunny window, which really does bring the science of rainbows alive for children. Place the prism in a basket by a window, along with a book about rainbows (and maybe rainbow-colored crayons and paper) to inspire your child to explore independently.

10. Catalog a collection

Does your child collect little bits and bobs everywhere? Do they come home with pockets full of rocks or feathers?

Instead of lamenting the small piles of pebbles you find all over your house, show your child how to organize their collection in a scientific way. Help them come up with a system of sorting their treasures however they like (size? color? type?) and provide a certain spot in the house or backyard where the objects belong.

11. Plant a seed

For toddlers and preschoolers, something as simple as planting a seed is a perfect scientific activity. To increase their interest, choose a seed or pit from something you're eating, like an apple, avocado or peach. Choose something that grows in your area and invite your child to help you plant the seed. They will be fascinated watching it sprout and grow.

12. Read science books together

There are so many wonderful science books out there for kids. Books like Ada Twist, Scientist, What Do You Do With an idea? and The Most Magnificent Thing celebrate children's curiosity and introduce the scientific method.

Of course you can also find countless books at the library on various aspects of science to encourage your child's interests, whether that's snails or volcanoes!

Whatever kind of scientific activity you choose to do, just remember to let your child lead the way. It might not turn out how you expect, but the goal is really just to encourage your child to explore with curiosity.

Learn + Play

Wouldn't it be nice to throw on mascara and instantly look well-rested? Let's set the scene: You've been up all night caring for your sick toddler and you look extremely tired. You quickly apply a waterproof, lengthening and volumizing mascara and poof—tired eyes begone. Sounds like a magic trick, right? But we have a few mascaras in our makeup bag that can do just that, mama.

These are our favorite mascaras to use that make us look well-rested and ready to conquer the day, even if we're running on just a few hours:

Tarte surfer curl mascara

Tarte surfer curl mascara

Whether you're prepping for hot yoga, a day at the beach, or just keeping up with the kiddos, Tarte's latest mascara is perfect for a mamas active lifestyle. It's a vitamin E- based mascara that delivers sweatproof, weightless volume without the clumps. Pro tip: Just do the top lashes for a more natural look.

$23

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna full frontal volume, lift + curl mascara

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna full frontal volume, lift + curl mascara

This popular mascara was designed to deliver Rihanna's full lash look, and we must admit, after three applications, our lashes turned out thicker and fuller than ever. The key to this formula is that it's paired with aflat-to-fat brush that customizes what you need. The fat side holds lots of product to quickly load and lift lashes, while the flat side defines and curls each lash.

$24

Maybelline lash sensational mascara

Maybelline lash sensational mascara

Not ready to spend loads of money on a beauty product? We hear you. That's why we love this liquid ink formula from Maybelline. It coats from all sides for full coverage with a featherlight feel. Just be careful with your application—it requires a good makeup remover to remove.

$9.99

L'Oréal voluminous lash paradise mascara

L'Or\u00e9al voluminous lash paradise mascara

If a deep black color is what you're after, this mascara will get you there in the best way possible. The soft wavy bristle brush gives lots of volume and the 200 bristles catch every lash for a full fringe effect. No, seriously—get the results you crave in only two coats!

$10.99

Stila Cosmetics magnum xxx mascara

Stila Cosmetics magnum xxx mascara

Suffer from thin, straight lashes that never seem to curl? This creamy, non-clumping formula is buildable and gives instant volume. It's also pretty cool that the blossom-shaped fiber wand is carved in a curved silhouette that dispenses just the right amount of formula on each individual lash for lots of volume.

$23

Marc Jacobs velvet noir major volume mascara

Marc Jacobs velvet noir major volume mascara

When we heard that this mascara was inspired by Marc Jacobs' first beauty memory of his mother shaving fibers from a velvet ribbon to create her own faux lashes, we knew this was something special. This mascara gives smudge-proof length and volume in three strokes or less.

$27

IT Cosmetics superhero mascara

 IT Cosmetics superhero mascara

If black mascara leaves you with raccoon eyes by the end of the day, this mascara might be your new bestie. Developed with plastic surgeons, and clinically tested, it provides both length and volume in one coat. Also, the formula contains collagen, biotin and peptides to condition your lashes as you coat.

$24

Too Faced better than sex waterproof mascara

Too Faced better than sex waterproof mascara

Without question, the original better than sex mascara lives up to its name, and the waterproof feature on this one is an added bonus. The hourglass-shaped brush was designed with extra stiff bristles to maximize the performance of this super black, collagen-fueled formula. But, once on your lashes, prepare to rub for a long time to get it off.

$25

Lancôme monsieur big mascara

Lanc\u00f4me Monsieur big mascara

This is one of Lancôme's bestselling mascaras and we get why. For starters, it's a creamy formula with a gel-like texture that does not require touch-ups. It also brings a ton of volume, without the flaking.

$25

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Beauty + Style Shopping Guides

I have a confession: I don't know how to cook. As in, I don't even know how to make toast—that's how bad I am in the kitchen. When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I was repeatedly told that I needed nourishing food, not only to grow two babies but to support my body in the process.

At first I lived off of food delivery services, but quickly realized it was both terrible for the environment—so many containers!—and for my wallet. So I started my quest for more sustainable options. Since I'm not great at cooking (and nausea was peaking for me up until 20 weeks) doing a subscription box that sends you the ingredients for you to prepare was not an option for me. Trust me, I tried it once before and it didn't go well.

But then I discovered three food services that really fit my needs during pregnancy and are also going to be super helpful during my postpartum recovery.

Here are the food services I tried (and spoiler: I loved):

Splendid Spoon

Splendid Spoon

Splendid Spoon is a plant-based food service with a variety of options. You can choose from three tiers: Lunch for $65, breakfast and lunch for $95 or breakfast, lunch and dinner for $135. All the plans are delivered weekly and you can build your own menu.

I went with the lunch option and focused on soups and grain bowls since it fit my schedule and needs the most (my husband usually cooks dinner for us and I have breakfast with our toddler). There are 26 available options for bowls, each one looking more delicious than the other, so it was a bit hard to narrow down to what I thought would be my favorite.

All the flavors I got were delicious and super filling. Plus, I felt better knowing I was getting a healthy serving of veggies in my diet just by including a bowl in my daily routine.

The best part? Their packaging is 100% recyclable, so I had no guilt like I had with all of my delivery orders.

$65

Bumpin Blends

Bumpin Blends

This service is specifically designed for pregnant and postpartum mamas to fully nourish their bodies. You get frozen cubes in different flavors to make either seven 16-ounce smoothies or fourteen 8-ounce smoothies (depends on how hungry you are!). I really loved these because they were such a breeze to make. Just pop the cubes in your blender, add your favorite liquid (some blends come with recommendations but you can always swap to whatever fits your dietary restrictions) blend and enjoy.

You can choose between one-time bundle for $88 or a subscription that ships every two weeks for $80. All the ingredients they use are organic and free of added sugars, artificial flavoring and preservatives.

Because they need to stay frozen through shipping and delivery, they come in a cooler box that is actually compostable, which helps me stay eco-friendly.

$88

twenty-five EIGHT

twenty-five eight

This food service was created to support women in whatever stage they are in with bundles for postpartum and breastfeeding mamas and women during their period. All bundles are packed with delicious and nutritious meals and snacks, which you get to build based on your preferences.

You can either select their bundles or pick a meal plan. You get to select between 3-15 meals depending on how many meals you'll need. If you prefer, you can also shop individual recipes, like their organic ginger carrot soup.

The food comes in either recyclable packaging or glass jars that you can use over and over again. If you're better than me, you can recreate your favorite soup and store it in the glass container, but I'm not ready to go there.

$130

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Lifestyle
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