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A handy list of ways new moms can delegate without having to think about it

Claire Zulkey wonders when she'll ever get used to the idea that she has two boys. She is the author of two books for young people, An Off Year and Best Frenemies. She and her filmmaker husband live in Evanston, IL. You can find out more...

Ways your friends and family can actually help you — plus extra credit!

“Is there anything I can do to help?” These are the eight most well-meaning but useless words a person can say to a new mom. Not because the help isn’t appreciated, but odds are, a first-time mom is too tired, too achy, too stunned, too hormonal and in a perfect world, too over-the-moon happy to effectively delegate. I know in my experience, I didn’t get the hang of knowing what I wanted and being able to articulate it until I was more than six months into my first child’s foray onto this planet.

If you’re expecting or a new mom, keep this page handy for any friends or relatives who may come by. That way, when they utter those eight lovely words, you will have an answer.

1. Take out the trash

Extra credit: Empty out the miscellaneous mini house trash cans. Break down any boxes and take those out with the recycling. Don’t forget to put a fresh bag in the garbage can too, please!

2. Throw a load of laundry in the washer

Extra credit: Fold the clean laundry that’s in the laundry basket.

Double-extra credit: Change the sheets.

More: These simple hacks took the angst out of my kids' chores

3. Bring over some toilet paper

Extra credit: Open it up and place a couple of rolls in each bathroom as needed.

Double-extra credit: Bring over the newest issue of People and leave it in the bathroom.

4. Bring over some delicious dinner that can be eaten straight from the container

Extra credit: If you’re invited to stay for said meal, leave after no more than 45 minutes, even if it seems like mom really wants you to stay.

5. Empty the dishwasher

Extra credit: Put the dirty dishes from the sink in the now-empty dishwasher.

Double-extra credit: Hand-wash the dirty dishes in the sink and put them in the rack in order to maintain a perfectly empty dishwasher.

More: Why I won't let my kid get away with being lazy

6. Come over and watch the baby

Warning: for experienced baby-holders only. Anyone who has to ask questions about diaper-changing, etc., need not apply.

Extra credit: Do not encourage the mom to sleep. Nobody likes to be told it’s time to sleep. Instead, tell her it’s her time to do one of the following things on her own: Shower, get a manicure, exercise, poop in peace.

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