The less-stuff, more-help baby shower
What I love: a bunch of friends and family getting together to celebrate an upcoming baby.
What I don’t love: everyone dropping a bunch of money on heavily marketed consumer products that may or may not end up being useful, or enjoyed. Superstores are full of gear, much of it is cute, all of it is overpriced, and virtually none of it is essential.
What I really hate: seeing overwhelmed new parents trying to fend for themselves, getting exhausted, frustrated, and generally bummed out by the needs of the baby and household. For thousands of years, extended families lived together, and pitched in with each others kids. Nobody became a mother without already having plenty of experience with newborns beforehand, and once she gave birth she had other experienced parents in the household to lend a hand. Today, most new parents have to pick it up as they go along, and few have another pair of hands in the house. I’ve seen too many new moms in tears, afraid they won’t be able to manage when their spouse goes back to work or visiting grandmother goes home.
So here’s how I’d like to see parents-to-be celebrated:
1) Expectant parents make a postpartum plan. The shower host prints out a list of tasks they will need help with, like meals, or picking up older kids.
2) At the shower, instead of buying stuff, friends sign up to help during the postpartum period, and/or contribute financially towards hiring help. Believe me, a postpartum doula, a cleaning service, or a meal will be more valuable than that baby wipe warmer.
3) But what about the adorable outfits?! You can still do wardrobe. The shower host can buy a bunch of plain onesies (get a few each in several sizes so they won’t all be outgrown right away.) Get a big pack of fabric markers. Maybe some iron-on appliqués, or even those photo print-out sheets if you want to get fancy. Guests all decorate onesies with a drawing, picture, or note to the baby. Sign them. Seriously, its fun. They’ll be totally cute, more distinctive than anything from Baby Gap, and a reminder to the parents that they have a village behind them.