- Letters and care packages are my love language. That, and iced coffee. And also floral quilts. (But I digress…)
I've been away from home since a month after my eighteenth birthday when I married my best friend and we set off on all of our adventures. We've lived across 3 countries and 5 states, and all of it proved to be quite a grand adventure and filled with many great joys - but also many months of anxiety, depression, intense loneliness and homesickness, especially after I became a mama.
There were months when I felt my sanity slipping away and I wondered if I would ever be able to think clearly again. That’s a hard truth to write. But I know so many other mothers walk through this same foggy type of darkness like a deep forest, and not everyone makes it through to see the sun again.
If you know a mother in your community struggling to make it through the day, know that she needs you.
And if you live close enough to take her out for coffee, to play with her children while she takes a nap or a shower, to bring her a meal and just talk for a while - you need to do these things.
But if she’s too far away to visit, know that she still needs you.
Care packages or letters can’t heal postpartum depression or mama grief. I know this. They aren't a replacement for real, in-person community or counseling. But when you know someone who is hurting or walking through a rough season of life, it can make a bigger difference than you might ever realize. I don't know what it is about coming home to a package on your doorstep, but it goes such a long way when you're feeling swallowed up by grief or forgotten by the world.
This month, I want to challenge you to send a care package to another mama who could use an extra bit of love. Maybe she’s a military wife, or a medical school or residency wife. Maybe she’s moved for a new job or school and she hasn’t been able to connect with anyone in her new community. Maybe she’s recently lost a child, maybe she struggles with infertility, or maybe she’s a brand new mama trying to grasp her new role while feeling exhausted and isolated.
These women need you, and I want to encourage you to reach out to them in whatever way you can,
whether it’s sending them an eGift card, something little from Amazon, a handwritten card, or a care package.
If you'd like to put together a care package for a friend,
here are some tips & tools I've learned about throughout the years...
For the New Mama
I’ve tried to make it a priority to send a care package whenever a friend has a baby. I remember when Lily was born, friends and family came to visit and some of them brought gifts for Lily - the sweetest baby blankets and darling little outfits, and I was so grateful. But one friend brought me the kindest gift basket filled with self-care items, just for me - a candle, lotion, body wash, a scarf, and chapstick. It was such a small thing but it reminded me that I was still human; in a time when most mothers feel like they are fading out and all anybody wants to talk about is their baby, sending a gift just for them can be a powerful reminder of their worth and how much you love them. Of course, it's also fun to get gifts for your new baby so I also throw in a few, but I try to keep the focus on caring for mama.
Here are some ideas:
- Burt's Bees Moisturizing Lip Shimmer - a little something to make her feel pampered & beautiful!
- Peppermint + Rosemary Body Wash - great for sleep deprived mamas - the scent is so refreshing and energizing!
- Organic Mother's Milk Tea - a necessity for every new nursing mama!
- Bamboobies Nursing Pads - this brand is the best I've tried - super absorbent and soft!
- Glass Tumbler with a Straw - to keep hydrated!
- Amazon Baby Wipes - these are my favorite & the only wipes we use now!
- Coconut oil - good for pretty much everything
- Dry Shampoo - because who has time for a shower?
- Facial moisturizer - especially during the winter!
- Hair ties - because, let's be honest, no matter how many you've bought... you somehow only have one left
- A good baby carrier if she doesn't have one - and I mean, I know of a good place for ring slings ;)
- Powerade Powder & Peanut Butter Crackers - I survived off of these for Lily's first few weeks
For the Mama in a new city
Are there any restaurants, stores, or specific items back home that she doesn't have access to in their new area? We lived in a tiny island in the middle of the Caribbean when my husband was working through his first two years of medical school and so many American comforts were hard to come by - my mom and mother-in-law sent us a few packages of paint and watercolor paper, new socks, notebooks, books, coffee - it's been over four years and I still remember them because it meant to much to us.
- The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul - this book is incredibly helpful for moms looking to get connected and integrated in a new community.
- "Home is Wherever I'm with You" print - this quote was so comforting as we traveled around the world! (or download and print the free printable below!)
- Look up a local coffee shop or restaurant near them and see if they offer gift cards - this will give her an excuse to get out and explore her new city!
In illnesses, emergencies, and after loss
Are there any restaurants that will deliver dinner to her door? If you're able to, send a gift card to provide a meal for their family. When everyone in the house is sick or there's an emergency, it can be such a struggle to keep everyone fed and, if you can't show up at their door with chicken soup, this is the next best thing. It can also be incredibly helpful to send practical items such as diapers and wipes, or even something little to keep the kids occupied while mama recovers (like this mess-free coloring pad from Melissa & Doug).
When I miscarried our baby in January of 2015, my best friend sent me a book on grief and the sweetest blends of essential oils. My mom also mailed us a box of little toys for Lily, who was almost two at the time. It helped keep her happy and entertained while the pain was so raw. If you're able to, send a gift that honors or reminds them of their sweet little one.
Laura of Mothering Spirit wrote this beautiful article on what to do when a friend loses a baby.
- "A Grief Observed" by CS Lewis
- Lavender Essential Oil (my favorite)
- A giant pack Kleenex - the really nice kind with lotion, so fancy ;)
- A small journal to write through the grief - getting all of their thoughts out of my head and onto paper can help
- Lavender + Thyme candle
- Scripture: Isaiah 61 - "Beauty for Ashes" (read the whole chapter here), Revelation 21 - "Behold, I Make All Things New" (read the whole chapter here), Matthew 5 - The Beatitudes, "Blessed are those who Mourn"
Free Scripture downloads & printables
Little things like nail polish, a good book, or a handwritten card can also brighten someone's day even if they aren't going through a particularly rough time. Think about what little things bring you joy and wrap them up and send them to a friend, just because. :)
Ship like You Mean it
Most USPS post office locations have flat rate boxes sitting in their lobby - these are FREE, so grab a few next time you're there and keep them on hand for when you want to send out a care package. I usually grab the medium & large boxes.
- Pay for postage and print your shipping label online at USPS.com. I believe they offer a better rate when you purchase your postage online, and you get to avoid standing in line - just take your package down and drop it off at the counter!
Order through Amazon
If you want to avoid paying for shipping altogether and are an Amazon Prime member, take advantage of the free shipping and ship a gift straight to their home. So easy! They also offer gift cards and gift wrapping.
Mamas, I want to challenge you to send a care package to a friend this month.
If you do, comment here or share on social media - tag me and at the end of the month,
I'll choose one of you & send you your own care package!
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