Will You Take a Meal to Your Neighbor?
By Jill Savage
Moms wear so many hats: laundress, cook, taxi cab driver, shopping specialist, just to name a few. When mom is ill, on bed rest with a pregnancy, recovering from surgery, or adjusting to the weeks after a new baby arrives family, friends, and neighbors can pitch in to help fill in the gap until mom gets back on her feet.
Not everyone knows how to just step in and help. Sometimes we need help thinking through the options and some practical ideas for making outside help a blessing to the family. When a mom you know could use a little bit of assistance, consider these possibilities:
Meals: Most moms serve as the chief cook in the family. When providing a meal for a family, here are some ideas to consider:
*Ask about food allergies and likes and dislikes, if you can.
*Steer clear of making food with ingredients that not everyone enjoys (i.e. nuts, coconut, etc).
*Tape clear instructions to the top of anything that needs to be tossed, baked, or warmed up.
*Use disposable containers so the family will not have the responsibility of washing pans, keeping track of who they belong to, and remembering to return them to you.
*If the family has young children that mom needs to feed at lunchtime, a sealed container or baggie full of pre-made peanut butter sandwiches can be helpful for her to give a hungry preschooler a snack or simple lunch.
*If you don’t cook much yourself, but want to provide a meal, you might give the family a gift certificate for pizza or Chinese food that they can order and have delivered to their home.
Laundry: Help with the laundry can relieve a weight from any mom who is under the weather.
*Come to the house and ask to take all the laundry home. Return it within 24 hours washed, dried, and folded.
*Offer to gather, sort, and start a load and help her fold any loads that were washed and dried but never folded. (Hint: If you put a load of dried, wrinkled clothing back in the dryer and and spray them with water using a spray bottle, then run the dryer for 15 minutes—most of the wrinkles will disappear!)
Driving: Most children need to be taken to school, piano lessons, or church activities.
*Offer to take the kids to and from school.
*Offer to chauffer kids to lessons or activities they need to attend.
*Offer to go to the drugstore to fill prescriptions or get over the counter medication she might need.
Shopping: Eventually milk and bread runs out at home and someone needs to go to the store.
*Give the mom a call and ask what brand milk and bread she buys and offer to bring her the basic necessities. Just pick up her supplies when you are at the store for your weekly shopping.
*If she needs to pack lunches for her school age children, give her the gift of convenience foods like Lunchables, juice boxes, or crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (available in the freezer section) that can easily be thrown into a lunch box in the morning.
Housekeeping: The cleaning and clutter can get me down when I feel well. When I’m ill it’s depressing to know that it needs to be done, but I lack the energy to get it accomplished.
*Ask your family member, friend, or neighbor, “Concerning your house, what is bothering you the most?” If it’s the kid’s toys spread all over the place, offer to pick up the toys. If it’s a bathroom that needs to be cleaned or dishes that need to be washed, offer to clean. If it’s a kitchen floor that she’s sticking to every time she walks in the room, offer to mop the floor.
*Organize a group of friends to come in and do a one-hour cleaning blitz of the house to really bless the person who’s not feeling well.
Certainly the above suggestions will never work unless we, as moms, learn how to ask for and receive help. Our tendency is to say, “Oh, we’re ok.” As one who has had three surgeries in the past five years, I’ve had to learn how to receive help. It’s not always easy, but it is a blessing.
I argued with my friend who came to my house and offered to take my laundry home. I didn’t want to put her out. I didn’t want to burden her. But she absolutely insisted and I didn’t have the energy to argue anymore. When she returned the next day with the laundry washed, dried, and folded, I felt the relief of knowing my family’s needs were taken care of. It was humbling to allow her to serve me in that way, but a little bit of humility is good for all of us sometimes. A year later, when she faced surgery herself, I was at her door to collect her laundry. She argued a bit, but I insisted. After all, I remembered the blessing it had been for me.
One of my biggest blessings came from a simple act of kindness. A friend called and said, “I’m within two blocks of Steak N Shake. What flavor shake can I bring you?” She brought the shake and stopped by for a short visit.
When you are under the weather, it’s just nice to know that someone cares.
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