Chances are if you are reading this, you have been on either the giving or receiving end (or both!) of a Meal Train after having a baby move into your home. When we came home from the hospital with our twins who came to us early, we were not prepared in the meal department whatsoever! A friend of mine quickly organized a Meal Train for us and it was one of the best gifts ever. We had so many meals coordinated and everyone was so thoughtful and understanding of our time, disheveled house and my not-so-clean hair. However, I have also been on the giving end of a Meal Train and seen and heard several stories that didn’t go as nicely as mine did.
Below are some tips and tricks for setting up or participating in a meal train for a family with a new addition:
- Coordinate with others on what you will be bringing and what time/dates! I like to use mealtrain.com but there are several other options. Please, please be sure to coordinate with the family to ensure they know you are coming and when. Nothing is worse than having unannounced visitors with a newborn baby that you just put down for a nap and then the doorbell rings.
- While checking on times to bring your meal over, make sure there are no allergies or food aversions. The last thing you want is for your meal to be untouched, right?
- Keep your visits to a short window of time. Unless asked otherwise, it is definitely nice to drop by with your meal and if the family feels like having visitors, stay for a short amount of time. A friend of mine had someone bring her a meal and then stay for 3 hours. Believe me: a new mom doesn’t want to feel like she has to entertain guests.
- If asked to stay for a while, be as helpful as possible! I had another friend who had a meal brought to her and the giver asked her to serve it up and sat and ate the meal she brought and there wasn’t enough left for the rest of the family. She also didn’t clean up after herself. Again, be mindful.
- Think outside the box! Maybe bring some freezer meals and disposable plate. I once took a friend a haul of snacks, plates, drinks, and diapers from Costco and the tears of joy in her eyes made my heart so happy.
- Check and see if you can pick up their groceries for them. If you are at the store, they can send you their list. My favorite thing is to let them order online and I pick up and drop them by.
- Don’t forget if there are other kids in the family, chances are they may be feeling a little overwhelmed and possibly a little jealous. I like to leave a little happy for them if possible!
- Offer to help with housework, light chores, etc. I seriously had a friend offer to come mow my yard! I of course didn’t let her but she was ready to do whatever she thought was needed and the thought was so appreciated.
- Drop off your meals/items in containers that you don’t expect to have returned to you. Disposable is even better!
The list could go on and on. I would also like to note that meal trains can also be great for families with an ill family member or someone who just had a surgery or really anyone going through a tough season of life. In the age where you can order, ship or send everything via the internet, a virtual meal train where you send gift cards is also a gracious and easy way to help a family during a challenging new time in their lives. What meal train successes or scares have you experienced?