In my life as a military wife, the one thing that has saved my sanity more than anything else is the support of other women. When I had my first, second, third, and fourth child over a thousand miles from my family, it was my friends who helped me cope with sleep deprivation, wild hormonal shifts, and juggling all the responsibilities of motherhood.
No one ever likes to admit that they need help so it’s a wonderful testament to these ladies’ generosity that they usually provide their help without waiting for you to ask and by somehow giving the impression that it is truly their pleasure to assist you. For example, in every community that I have lived in, women arrange to bring meals to families who have a new baby. The intention is to provide assistance to the family by taking the task of preparing dinner each night off the to-do list, but also provides the meal bringer with an opportunity to fawn over the new baby. Similarly, when someone loses a close family member, providing a meal, sending flowers, or running errands for the grieving individuals is a way for friends to show their sympathy, love, and caring. It makes people feel better when they can DO something, especially when it isn’t easy to find the right words.
Ways to Help a Friend in Need
Ironically, whether someone is in need due to a happy event (e.g. new baby or upcoming wedding) or a sad one (e.g. death in the family, job loss), that person’s need for help is similar across all scenarios. What people need when they are undergoing stress is stress relief and the easiest way to do that for someone else is to take some things off of their plate. Another way to help them is to encourage them to engage in stress-busting activities.
- Bring a meal or provide restaurant gift cards
- Run errands
- Clean their house or hire a cleaning service
- Drop by and help them fold laundry while you chat
- Do their yard work or hire someone to do it
- Make dates with them to take a walk
- Plan a girls’ night out
- Book a massage or spa day for both of you
If you are helping a friend who has just had a baby, check out this New Mom Gift Bag idea from It Happens in a Blink.
For friends going through a tough time, you might find some helpful tips in my article “How to Help a Friend in Need” based on my own insights and opinions having been blessed with many thoughtful and helpful friends.
If you have a friend who is battling cancer, Holly from the Coconut Head’s Survival Guide has a lot of advice based on her own battle with cancer.
Bringing Meals to a Friend in Need
The most common (and least intrusive) way of helping a friend in need is to provide meals. By bringing over a meal, you don’t impose yourself on your friend at a time when she may not want company and you don’t make demands on her time, yet you are helping out in a meaningful and tangible way. Here are a few tips to make sure that your good deed does the most good.
- Contact your friend in advance to find out:
- How many people the meal(s) will be feeding
- If any of the diners have food allergies or dislikes
- A convenient time to drop off the meal
- Use disposable food containers so that your friend isn’t saddled with cleaning dishes after the meal and making arrangements to return them to you.
- Bring a meal that can be easily frozen and reheated since your friend might be receiving many meals or might not have a strong appetite and won’t want the meals to go to waste.
- Stick with meals that are one-dish recipes or provide all of the side dishes to accompany the entree.
- As a special treat, consider adding a dessert.
- Don’t limit yourself to dinner. A home-cooked breakfast or lunch is just as thoughtful.
- If you’re coordinating several days of meals with other people, try to arrange the meals so that the recipient doesn’t end up with lasagna seven days in a row.
- Keep the meal drop off as brief as possible.
For a Sick Friend
With the Kids in Mind
Breakfast Burritos (can be frozen!)