Thanks, but no thanks: why you should pass on the family “help”

I’d always been envious of new mothers who have family come to “help.” My husband and I navigated all three “additions” to our family in an isolated, helpless void. So I ate my heart out when women talked about their mothers staying with them to do laundry and change diapers. 

But the more stories I hear about families “helping” with a new baby, the more I think that the words “We’re going to come help you with the baby!” should strike terror in the hearts of expectant mothers. Why? Because of some of the things I’ve heard from my friends:

Jennifer: I’d just moved to Napa when I had my third baby. My parents-in-law came to “help” me for a week. They dumped their luggage and went wine tasting. When they got back seven hours later, they drunkenly asked me if dinner was ready yet.

Andrea: When my mom came, she offered to stay in a hotel, so she wouldn’t be a burden. On the way to the hotel, she dropped off her 80-pound Golden Retriever.  The hotel didn’t take pets, and she couldn’t bear a four-day trip without her sweet little Nutmeg. Nutmeg woke up the baby with her incessant barking, jumped all over my C-section incision, and shed so much that I couldn’t nurse the baby without dust-busting my nipples first.

Cadie: My dad came to “help” when I was two weeks overdue. He brought his new girlfriend, and they treated the visit like a Love Connection dream date.  When my dad offered to drive me to the drugstore, he helped his girlfriend into the front seat of my minivan like Prince William lifting Kate into a horse-drawn carriage. They expected me to climb into the back, even though I was so fat that my body wouldn’t bend further than 135 degrees, and I had a human head lodged in my cervix. They smiled at each other dreamily while I spent 10 minutes trying to get enough momentum to roll into the car. I spent another 10 minutes trying to un-wedge myself from between the seats. By the time I clawed my way up onto the upholstery, they were making out.

Allison: I struggled with breastfeeding. One day, my mother-in-law stood over me and said, “If you can’t nurse him, I will. Once you’ve breastfed, you never lose the ability.”

Michelle: My aunt came to “help” when I had my second baby. She hid so many pill bottles around the house that my 3-year-old asked if she was the Easter Bunny. She left a hot curling iron plugged in all day, drank scalding coffee while holding my newborn, and nearly killed us all by leaving the stove gas on. When I told her to be more careful, she snapped, “You think I don’t know what I’m doing?  I kept my cat alive for 15 years.”

Maybe those harrowing months of mind-searing sleep deprivation and no helping hand in sight weren’t so bad.

Have you had a similar horrific experience? Let us know in the comments!

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About Erica June Ford, Bundoo Blogger

Erica Ford is a writer, editor, and host of the Boston radio show South Shore Live.  Her humorous essays about parenthood have been featured in The Huffington Post, the New York Times, and her popular blog Mommy Klatch. She is the author of Scotch Tape is Cheaper Than Botox.

Erica completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan, received her law degree from Boston College, and practiced law in Boston for several years. Aside from her three daughters, the highlight of Erica’s life was when Oprah Winfrey asked her to read her writing onstage at the Life You Want conference in 2014.


  1. These are hilarious. However I think it makes a great point – “help” can often be very subjective. I am glad we kept to ourselves for two weeks after our son was born b/c I couldn’t imagine trying to be mentally put together enough to have people around, even our family who we love dearly. Quite frankly, I needed the peace and quiet while I figured it all out!!

  2. I didn’t ever ask for any help but I just wish I was smart enough to at least have my mom or sister come watch the baby so I could at least nap! By the time I was ready for bed and exhausted the baby would cry for hrs before finally falling asleep. I never felt tired during the day but exhaustion would suddenly hit me like a train every night around ten. Next time I will definantly ask so I can get some naps in that first week but also only from someone from my side of the family to avoid any horror stories

  3. These are all award-winning stories in awful-land, but I think Allison wins the trophy!


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