Wednesday, October 24, 2012

10 Practical Ways To Bless A Young Mother

Do you remember how much you loved a home-cooked meal when you were in college?

Oh man, do I ever.

My now mother-in-law cooked a killer Sunday dinner every Sunday afternoon and there was gonna have to be something MAJOR going on if I was gonna miss heading up to her house with my boyfriend for that meal. Many weeks, a big ol' pile of us headed up there because my husband's college roommates were clamoring for an invitation, too.

I wish I had photos of all of us as we sat down to that table full of home-cooked food. Kids in a candy store, baby.

That meal was like love on a plate. After eating at the dining hall or student union all week, a platter of roast beef and big, heaping bowl of homemade mashed potatoes was something the heavens brought down.

I know we tried to express it to her, but I don't think Mom knew how much that meal meant to us every week. She loved cooking it. It was not really a big deal to her because she'd been making Sunday dinner for her family for years, but to us college kids, it was about the best thing ever.

Now that I am a young mother, my life is so different than it was back then. I don't eat at a dining hall, but I eat the cut crusts off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch many days. I'm not up late studying for exams, but I'm up late changing sheets or cleaning up throw-up or soothing crying littles from nightmares.

I'm tired.
I'm weary.
I'm so very busy.

Just like I chose to go to college, I chose to have my family. And, Sunday-dinner kinds of blessings are so very precious to me. They just look different these days.

Most, if not all, of us know a young mother. Well, a mother with young children - even if she isn't so young anymore. This particular calling, this stage of life requires a daily emotional, mental, and physical pouring out of yourself to others. It's a precious, but taxing calling. And, it ain't easy.

I want to bless my friends that have young children, but I am buried under my own pile of children and I am drained, busy, and weary, too - and I often feel like I can't help them - even though I want to. Many of us with young children are running around trying to help each other by carrying each other's burdens, but it is so often all we can do to take care of our own littles at home.

If you are in a different stage of life - you are single, your children are grown, you're a young married couple, or you're in college - you may know some young mothers in your life (friends, people in your small group, at church, neighbors) and have never thought you could do anything to bless or help them. To help carry their load.

Maybe you want to. You just don't know how.

Well, I'm about to tell you very specifically how you can do that.

Since I'm in the trenches of young motherhood right now, I've given some thought to how I might most be blessed if someone wanted to love and help me - but wasn't sure how. And, I want to share some of those ideas with you today. This is for my fellow Moms, to my single friends, couples, grandparents, older friends, adopted aunts and uncles, babysitters - for anyone who is looking for meaningful ways to love on and care for a young mother.

{Note: This is not a personal plea to *my* circle for help. This is for all of my Momma friends who won't ever ask for these things, and particularly for those with servant hearts who want to know how specifically they can serve young mothers.}

Let me say this: Some seemingly obvious ideas are very, very bad. What you might think blesses a young Mom is really a burden to her. And, what you may never have thought of could be the best Sunday dinner she's ever had.

So, how can you bless a young mother if you are looking for the best ways to do so? What if you have time, but no money? What if you have money, but no time? What if you want to be hands on? What if kid germs scare the bajeebies out of you and you want to be 100% hands off? What if you live across the country?

I think I've got something for everyone.

SO let's get at it:

10 Practical Ways To Bless A Young Mother

1. Send her a Starbucks gift card. Amen and Amen. Even if you know she doesn't like coffee, she can get a hot chocolate. Or a pumpkin muffin. Or a sandwich or scone or an iced tea. And, it is a drive-thru! AMEN! A $.99 drug-store card with as little as a $5 Starbucks gift card and an encouraging note from you will love on her in a surprising, fantastic way. Of course, if you've got the spare change, a $25 gift card will blow her away.

2. Offer to take one of her kids out for a few hours. This is a hands-on alert. If you don't know her well, don't offer this. She will think you are creepy. But, if you are friends with her (meaning: she knows you are not creepy even if you aren't bffs), offer to take three year-old little Johnny out for ice cream one afternoon. My friend, Rachel, did this for me one day last year and it blessed my socks off. Lincoln came home happy as can be, and I got a nice, long shower.

*Note: DO NOT offer to take the easy child in the family if she has multiple children at home. If Sally is good as gold and a great help to her mother, take Johnny. Ideally, take both that are home at the time. But, if you take Sally because "she's so easy and sweet as pie" and leave Johnny "because he's a little terror", you have burnt the Sunday dinner.

3. Buy her a one-time cleaning service. So, you've got money, but no time. And germy kids scare you. Get her a gift certificate for a one-time cleaning service. Even if she's one of those blessed souls who has a cleaning lady that comes every other week or once a month, she can use it when she's having a party or her in-law's are coming to visit. For $75-$100 dollars, you can give her something that will really help share her burden of trying to keep her house clean with littles afoot. And, since strangers are doing the cleaning, she doesn't have to worry that anyone she knows is seeing her filthy bathroom.

4. Take her carry-out. If her husband travels (which so many do these days), she is eating either drive-thru fast food every night, or frozen pizza at home. Text her early on a day you know her husband will be gone and offer to drop off Pei Wei or Carrabba's or Chipotle on your way home from work. She may have to reheat it, or eat it after the kids go to bed, but she will have a delicious meal and she will love it. Once she agrees, tell her you REALLY want to get her JUST what she wants, so tell her to be specific with her order. "Oh, just get me anything." NO! Insist that she tell you exactly what she likes.

*Note: Tell her early on that you're not staying to visit, but just to drop off her dinner and leave. But, that sounds so cold. I wanna visit if I'm there. This is NOT the time to visit. Her house may look like a tornado hit it, her son might have peed on the bathroom floor and dishes may be covering EVERY surface of her kitchen. If she feels like she has to clean up for you AT ALL, this drop off will stress her out and you've burnt the Sunday dinner. TELL HER ahead of time you are not coming in, but just wanna drop off dinner to her. Wanna visit? Make that another time. This is not the time for you to visit. Period.

5. Give her and her husband a FREE date night. And, all of the mothers with no family in town shouted a hearty, "AMEN!" This is a great way to bless any mother, even if she has family around, but it is especially precious to one who has no grandparents around to give her free babysitting. Ever. A weekend night is best. And, be specific. "Can I watch the kids on Friday night - this Friday night or next - so you guys can have a date night?" Don't leave it open ended and wait for her to come back to you and ask. She won't. I promise, she won't ever bring it up. Bug her until she settles on a specific night and time.

*Extra tip of awesomeness: Bring something fun for her kids to do with you that night. Coloring books and new crayons. A pack of playdoh. A tube of cookie dough to bake. She will be brought to tears knowing her littles are being loved on. I guarantee it.

6. Give her some Jump Zone/Bounce House/Playplace passes. Yes, they are germ infested. Yes, they are full of crazed children. But, kids love to go jump at these places, and an afternoon at one of these bounce house digs will wear her kids out and they might even sleep through the night afterwards for her. These places can get expensive for a family, but if you have the money, this is a great way to give her kids an afternoon of fun and all Dad has to do is sit and watch them. Emphasis on Dad - since Mom will be home taking a shower. Or nap! Bonus: You don't have to go anywhere near the place.

7. Leave a stack of quarters in a bag on her front door. What? Quarters? Yes. Quarters. I have some friends who have clean minivans. But, I have more friends whose minivans are so messy, that it's just downright scary. (This is my minivan, too.) Don't judge us. We live in our cars. One-month old french fries, crayons, crushed saltines, ripped up pieces of paper (don't ask) - these are covering the floor of my car. And, a stack of quarters means I can pull into the carwash and vacuum out my car whenever I want. Yes, I could do it at home. Not happening. And, if she happens to be one of those Mommas with a sparkly clean van, she'll use those babies up on Starbucks and she'll remember to take her cup inside and throw it away, unlike the rest of us. But if she drives a french fry, itty bitty bits of paper, crayon mobile like I do, she will love having them in her car!

8. Send her a Target gift card. This one goes back to #1, but if you'd like to give her something really meaningful, I don't have a single friend who wouldn't LOVE a Target gift card. She can use it on WHATEVER she wants. Isn't that the beauty of Target? She can get groceries if it's a tight month, or a new pair of leggings, socks for the kids, a new set of towels, or buy the mega-size bag of Peanut M&M's that she would NEVER buy otherwise. I don't think this one takes much convincing - who doesn't love a Target gift card?

9. Put flowers on her front porch. Mums and a pumpkin this time of year is perfect. You will make her day. Nothing says, "I care about you" like flowers for no reason at all. She will be reminded each time she pulls up that you thought of her, that you care about her, and that she is not doing this thing alone. Try to drop them off when you know she's not home so she doesn't have a heart attack when she sees you pull up since Johnny just peed on the bathroom floor and she has dishes...well, you get it. And, don't come in. Again, this is not a time to come in and visit if she happens to be home. Please trust me on this.

10. Give her that one special thing that says, "I listen." Remember how you two were talking and she was telling you how she wishes she had one of those little mini whisks to stir her hot chocolate. Or how when you were at her house last, her favorite Yankee Candle was almost gone. Get her that. That one little thing. The thing that tells her, "I listen when you're talking to me. I care about you." You will bring her to tears if a little whisk shows up in her mailbox from Amazon or her favorite Yankee Candle is sitting in a gift bag by her front door.

These are just ten simple and practical examples out of hundreds. Thousands. But, I can't tell you how many times I've had conversations with people and they've said, "I wish I could help so-and-so. I just don't really wanna babysit, and well, I'm just not a kid person."

If you are her friend, if you are breathing, you can help her. You can bless her. You can use whatever means you want to use to love on your Momma friends. Whether that's your time or money or something as simple as a $5 gift card and a note, YOU can be God's hands and feet to a young mother.

*I'd love to hear other suggestions from other Moms who read this, so feel free to share them in the comments. I am always looking for ways to bless my Mom friends, and I'd love your input, too.


  1. If you only knew how I longed to be and do all those things for you in the short time we lived near one another. It was such a blessing just to come play with your boys and you guys just did your thing and let us play. A memory we treasure (along with some good food).

    I know the night you went to the concert was a first outing for you guys. I'm not sure who had the better night, us or you. I changed the stinkiest diaper ever (thank you Lincoln) and laughed my head off at Max being potty trained. What a night.

    Such great ideas for blessing a young momma and I hope and pray you have someone close by to bless you my friend. I'd be bringing flowers to your door today if I could.

    One thing I didn't realize is that when I offered to come stay with the boys so you could get out and just buy groceries or whatever is that I didn't press it. I thought you would call and take me up on the offer. I learned from this post that it takes a bit more pressing on my part. I would have done it weekly if I knew you wanted me there :D

  2. Best post EVER. I am going to share and bless someone's socks off!

  3. Loved this post. I have decided that one day, when our children are grown and we're not spending a bajillion dollars a month on groceries ourselves, I'd love to do this: When I see a mom with a passel of small children ahead of me in the checkout, I'll tell each child to grab a toy from the eye-level toys they keep in the checkout lane (thank you Target), and then I'll pay for her groceries while she loads her kids in the car and I'll bring the groceries out. And I'll tell her she's doing a great job. One day! =)

  4. One thing I would mention about #4 is that it is so, so important to remember this when dropping food off for a family right after they have had a NEWBORN. I loved when my church family came along side me during those first groggy days home from the hospital and brought delicious hot meals. But, no, Oh, no, this is not the time to stay and visit. The house will be a mess, new mom will be in pain, exhausted and an emotional mess herself. Smile, drop the food and love on the baby later when mom feels like a human again.

    And second, Prayer! Asking a young mom how you can pray specifically for her this week is amazing. I have been on the receiving end of this and it is humbling and encouraging. Prayer is very powerful! It affects the one praying and the one being prayed for. It changes hearts and it can move mountains. Sometimes, knowing someone was praying for me during the “foxhole moments of motherhood” gave me the hope I needed to get through an evening. And even more gracious is when they followed up and said I have been praying for you how have you been doing in this area. It sounds small, but it is a powerful, beautiful gift to give and receive.

    Great post Sarah! You have so much wisdom to share!!! Thanks for taking time out of your crazy schedule to share your heart!

    ~ Inge

  5. Once again you have inspired me :). Miss u, Sandra

  6. what a lovely post - and I'd add also good for anyone struggling with caretaking, whether someone in the home is ill, or they're caring for an aging parent etc - same feeling of overwhelmed and tired and need a small respite.

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