Lynn Sudlow, founder of The Complete Errand, which runs errands for people in New Hampshire, says friends give new parents gift certificates for her services, since new moms and dads can find it difficult to do their routine household tasks, from getting a car inspection to arranging hotel accommodations for visitors to going to the grocery store. "Parents use me at the very beginning, when they're completely overwhelmed," she says. The hourly cost for this type of help usually ranges from $20 to $100.
Special treats for mom:
Amanda Moore, a doula based in Houston, says she advises new moms to rest and let their bodies recover by staying in bed for the first three days. Then she encourages them to develop routines, such as time for a cup of coffee, yoga, a short walk, massage, nap, or swim. "They are often completely overwhelmed, so I say, 'Let's focus on your body, how you handle stress, and what your needs are when you're feeling stressed and fatigued.'" (Moore charges clients a flat $1,200 fee, which includes prenatal support, childbirth class, and post-partum assistance; many insurance providers cover at least some of the services provided by doulas.)
New moms can also turn to technology to help establish those new routines. "The Fisher-Price Lamb Papasan Swing was a lifesaver," says Ballance. "I buckled my son in there while I drank a cup of coffee and checked email every morning—just having those five minutes to myself while he happily sat in the swing helped me feel normal and ready to face the day," she says.
Exercise isn't usually the first priority after bringing home a newborn, but after six to eight weeks, it can be. Jenny Skoog, a post-natal coach, doula, and founder of SkoogFit, says many new moms feel self-conscious and out of shape: "My job is to offer emotional support, reassurance, and comfort." Plus, she says, "One of the best ways to air out their anxieties is to exert their bodies … They leave my hour-long sessions feeling refreshed and rejuvenated." For the first three months after birth, Skoog says, she doesn't push them too hard, but offers customized guidance, especially if the mom experienced a challenging birth. While one-on-one sessions cost $125, moms can get together for semi-private lessons or group training to reduce those costs.
New-mom classes can also provide a much-needed outlet, says Peate. She took Mommy and Me classes with her oldest daughter when she was six months old. "I needed an outlet to meet other moms because I was getting very lonely at home," she says. After meeting other moms through the classes, she formed a regular playgroup.
Of course, some self-care tips don't require any money. Suggests Jennifer Louden, author of The Life Organizer. "Give yourself permission to let go of as many things in your life as you can, especially if your child isn't sleeping well or has colic," she says. Louden suggests creating a "do-not-do" list instead of the traditional "to-do" list, to remind yourself that you can skip responding to email or folding the laundry.
For new parents who are overwhelmed by their new responsibilities, a little assistance can make those early months easier—even if you're not famous enough to warrant your own television show.