I lucked out when it comes to mother-in-laws, my friends. I mean, we all know that draw is sort of a crap shoot. It can go well or it can go very, very poorly. But I am very content with my lot in the mother-in-law world. I just wish she lived closer than 4,000 miles away. Because if she lived closer, I know she'd do all the things only the best mother-in-laws do when their daughter-in-law has a baby.
I actually haven't had my own mother or my mother-in-law with me either time I've had a new baby at home, and the result has made for a rather tough new-mom time. Because they both live thousands of miles away, it's made more sense (or has only been possible) for either of them to come later when the baby isn't really a newborn anymore. But luckily, most of these things are helpful whenever your mother-in-law is in town, whether your baby is 1 week old or 1 year old.
The best mothers-in-laws really just know when and how to offer help and advice that'll make life just that little bit easier for their daughters-in-law. And, perhaps more importantly, they know when to zip it or keep their advice to themselves when the new mom needs to work it out on her own. Here's what else the best mothers-in-law do and don't do for their daughters-in-law when they bring a new baby into the world:
I know it must be tough for mothers-in-law to give their brand new grandchildren (and their parents!) space, but sometimes that's exactly what you need as a new mom. You need just a little breathing room to find a rhythm before you have visitors or even people who want to help. My mother-in-law, now that she has three daughters-in-law with kids, knows that everyone needs a minute to adjust to the new addition even before they can accept help.
Oh, good grief, my mother-in-law is a dream when it comes to cleaning. She willingly dives in to whatever project she sees (and can tell that I have been ignoring for weeks... or months) in order to take that off my plate. And that, to me at least, is a priceless gift.
I don't mind laundry, usually, but laundry when you have a new baby just gets so tedious and constant. It's really nice to have someone to chip in for a load or two, here and there, so that you're not counting the minutes until the dryer finishes so you have a few clean burp cloths.
The last place I want to be with a new baby in the house is in the kitchen, and the best mother-in-law knows that. She whips up some healthy but cozy comfort food for the whole family to keep everyone nourished and energized.
A great mother-in-law babysits, if she's able. I think a mom and a mom-in-law, maybe tied with a sister or sister-in-law who has her own kids, are the best babysitters a new mom could ask for. I mean, at least you know they've handled a baby before!
Sometimes your partner needs a gentle reminder from his or her mom about everything you've been through and everything you're currently going through. It's better than you nagging, in my opinion, and if your partner is anything like mine, he or she hears it much better than when it comes from mom.
The best mother-in-law knows when to give advice, and when to hold her tongue. It's a tricky skill to learn, to be sure, and especially with a new baby on the scene. Still, it's vital to a grandmother's potential "excellent mother-in-law status." Knowing when to, and when not to, chime in with suggestions based on her experience is a gift in itself.
The best mothers-in-law know that you need some pampering after you've given birth or welcomed a new baby into the family. Whether it's running you a bath (my mother-i-law is great for baths) or making sure you have clean undies, a little TLC goes a long way.
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