Don’t Buy Her Flowers!

When my second baby was 2 weeks old and my husband had gone back to work, a very lovely friend left me a huge lasagne, a big loaf of sour dough bread, and some home made brownies on my door step with a note. It read ‘Dear Clemmie you’re probably feeling exhausted and the thought of cooking dinner tonight fills you with dread. Here’s some yummy grub to keep you going, no need to call and thank speak soon xx.’

It was such a kind and thoughtful present I burst into tears. This friend understood exactly what a new mum really needs, not another teddy for the baby, a hand wash only cashmere baby cardigan or even another bunch of flowers. New mums need things for them, survival packs, something that says well done for pushing a human out of your vagina now here are some treats for you!

Steph recently started Don’t Buy Her Flowers, selling thoughtful gift packages for new mums with the awesome addition of COOK food vouchers so new parents can stock up their freezer with proper meals they don’t have to prepare.

Me in first week

She says ‘I started it mostly because I think receiving an additional thing to care for when you’ve had a baby is, frankly, a bit bonkers and yet 96% of new mums receive flowers. I think women deserve to feel a bit cared for after having a baby because those first months are tough. New mothers, whether they realise it or not (and unfortunately I think we’re too busy punishing ourselves or feeling guilty about something to realise it) give a lot. We give over our bodies, our minds, our relationships and for a while for most of us, we lose a bit of ourselves. I don’t want to whinge about it – it’s not to say my children aren’t worth it, or I would do it differently if I had my time again and all those things women jump to say if they feel they’re caught having a moan about having babies. But I think it’s tough. Maybe because we don’t all have families around us, maybe because there is so much information available we can read something that tells us we are making a complete shitting mess of it. Maybe because unlike generations before us, we have expectations of ourselves to be out there and earning and creating and doing something brilliant. All while looking hot and in control and with a baby attached to us in some sort of sling.

I certainly didn’t feel hot or in control in the first months after having a baby. Actually that’s not entirely true – I constantly had a sweat on when breastfeeding, but you know what I mean. In those early stages, it’s all about someone else and I often got to 5pm before realising I hadn’t yet cleaned my teeth. For most of us, for the first time in our lives we’re completely at the beck and call of another person, doing something we’ve never done before, while handling the crackers hormones and for many the physical repercussions of birth.

When I had my first baby, I received eight bunches of flowers. I worked in advertising and the agencies sent these lovely bouquets that at any other time I would have felt hugely grateful for, but I didn’t have the energy to do anything with them and only had two small vases, so they left me feeling a bit weepy. Which in turn made me feel more weepy – what kind of woman was I if the kind act of sending me flowers left me feeling distressed?

After that, when a friend had a baby I sent them a little package of nice things for them and if they lived near, I cooked them something and left it on their doorstep. These friends sent the loveliest messages about how wonderful it was that someone had thought of them. I realised that it wasn’t only me that a) got a lot of flowers and b) found the new mum bit hard. At this point, I returned to work part-time after both babies and found the juggle tough. The commute felt like wasted time, the job felt ‘different’ (or I did) and then there’s the guilt when I got the inevitable calls that one of the kids was poorly. My career to this point had been managing multiple agency and internal teams to deliver national campaigns, and I’d loved it. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s multi-tasking. And, if I’m honest, being a bit bossy. Once the seed had been planted that maybe this new mum gift thing could be a business, I couldn’t get it out of my head and everything I’d learnt before now felt like it was going to help me actually do this.

My love of all things ‘Sisterhood’ started because one of the things that helped me when I had my babies was support from other women. The ones that reassured me it was ok to feel a bit bonkers, and that breastfeeding can be a bit hard, and that it was all going to get easier.  My mum – a midwife and having had four babies herself – helped me when Buster was a few weeks old when I rang her crying, overcome with tiredness and feeling unsure I was getting anything right. She told me to just STOP. I didn’t have to do something every day in those first months. I didn’t have to meet up with people and trek around worrying that I was going to be late for a feed but not wanting to cut everyone else’s walk short. The baby didn’t need ‘stimulating’ at a few weeks old when he had my face to look at. Heck, some days I didn’t have to get dressed. It is such a short period of time in the grand scheme of things. On the days when everything is going to plan, get out there just try not to overdo it. When it’s not, pull the drawbridge up and do whatever you can to rest because the world will feel like a brighter place when you do. When you have a baby you have the best excuse in the world not to turn up to everything, it’s just unfortunate that most of us don’t realise that until later. None of it matters. Very little is more important than you being as rested as is possible for someone getting by on probably not a lot of sleep.

care-package-removed esentials-package-open-1 the-date-night-in-2

The packages I’ve put together are essentially to try and encourage that idea – for a mum to stop and take a few minutes to herself or with her partner. We launched with three packages; The Care Package, The Essentials and The Date Night In. COOK food vouchers can be added to any package, which also make it a great gift if you want to spend a bit more or buy a group present. I don’t know any new parents that wouldn’t appreciate food they don’t have to prepare. Whether it’s for someone having their first baby or their sixth, life is different to before and everyone will need a bit of time to adjust.

I can’t tell you how this will work out as it’s only been a couple of weeks. It’s started brilliantly and the feedback, from the quality of the products and the packaging to recipients weeping when they open their gift (in a good way!) has been so lovely to receive. There are partners, friends and grandparents that feel a bit useless at times and our website enables them to buy a gift that offers mums some TLC. Flowers say ‘I’m thinking of you’. A gift package from Don’t Buy Her Flowers says ‘I’m thinking of you, if you’re finding it hard it’s OK and I hope this makes you feel a bit better’.

Check out Don’t Buy Her Flowers website, where you’ll also find the Sisterhood (and all that) blog. You can follow Steph on Twitter @StephieDoug and on Facebook.

If that hasn’t got you nodding along and remembering how you really felt after having a baby I don’t know what planet you’re on. We have one lucky reader the chance to win a Date Night In with Champagne for someone that needs it, which could be a friend or yourself if you’re in need! All you have to do is tell me what was the most ridiculous present you got after having your baby. It can be something totally impractical, totally hideous or just totally bizarre. Leave your answer in the comments box. The winner will be revealed next Friday. Good luck!

33 thoughts on “Don’t Buy Her Flowers!

  1. What a splendid idea! I didn’t get any completely ridiculous presents so I got lucky! No flowers because I wasn’t at home for the first few weeks but in the NICU. The thing that I wished I’d received was a Costa gift card – there’s a Costa in our hospital and my daily treat was the 5 minute walk over there to treat myself to a hot chocolate. When we looked at our bank statement when we came home that’s all that was on it, a huge list of Costa transactions! I’d spent a ridiculous amount of money in there!

  2. When I had my son my friend came to see me with a bunch of the obligatory flowers (orange lilies that put their rancid smell all over the house) she had a cup of tea (made by me, day 6 post section) cooed over my little boy and then trailed dog poo from her shoes through my cream carpets! I had to clean it off and she sat and let me… Then the following day she came again with another present – a mascara and a lipstick as she said she was sure they would make me feel and look better… Day 7 post section!!!! Currently expecting baby number 2 and am pleased to say she lives too far away to come visiting….

  3. I worked in advertising too, and when a client had a baby we asked if we could buy a bundle of babygros so she had at least one useful present. The answer? We have a corporate account with a florist so it’s flowers or nothing. Wrong attitude altogether!

  4. What a brilliant idea. We were really lucky that lots of people brought us food or came and did our dishes. My father in law, however, brought us a chair for the baby. Wonderful. Except that it is a hideous full size dining chair painted red with a Winnie the Pooh cushion. Entirely impractical (and doesn’t match anything!). It’s the thought that counts….!

  5. Great idea! The most useless gift I received, about 4 months after giving birth, was a wash bag containing loads of mum-to-be products. Would have been great while I was still pregnant! I was totally amazed by people’s generosity though, my baby received so many lovely gifts. Will definitely remember this idea for the future.

  6. My mum is ever supportive, but also has rather strong opinions on things.. Having just had my first baby about one week ago, my husband and I have been discussing potential names. She obviously didn’t like our choices as I have now received a Christmas bauble from her with the name ‘Charlie’ on it – too bad we decided to call our child Phineon!

  7. My sister in law came over 3 days after our first son was born, with a jar of baby food (roast chicken flavour) as a gift. She literally wasn’t even joking. (She didn’t know why we were laughing!)

    Seriously… A 79p consumable even the baby couldn’t use for 6 months. Weirdest new mum gift EVERRR

  8. When I had by first baby my Dad rushed back from a business trip to meet his new Grandson laden with champagne, flowers, pate and the smelliest camembert cheese the world has ever smelt. It was a sweet idea, to get me all the things I had been missing during pregnancy but that cheese stunk so bad that despite wrapping it in a whole roll of cling film and foil the smell kept wafting through the house everytime we opened the fridge. I didn’t fancy eating it and my post natal hormones wouldn’t allow throw it out. Instead I just cried a bit everytime I opened the fridge. Eventually my husband ate it all so I would stop sobbing about cheese!

  9. An eplilator – it would have been a lovely Christmas present, had I not just given birth the morning before. Every time I looked at it I cried, first with despair and later with the sheer hilarity of it.

    Your packages are a fantastic idea! Mothers will be nodding their heads and wishing it was around years before when they had their babies. Good luck with your new venture!

  10. An eplilator – it would have been a lovely Christmas present, had I not just given birth the morning before. Every time I looked at it I cried, first with despair and later with the sheer hilarity of it.

    Your packages are a fantastic idea! Mothers will be nodding their heads and wishing it was around years before when they had their babies. Good luck with your new venture!

  11. Lovely idea, wish it goes really well! We received some really tasty cakes and muffins and biscuits from a bakery sent by my sister in law, great present as it was a treat for me/us but also we could offer visitors something rather nice. Ridiculous gift? A small fabric photo frame… For it needed to be hung up, put a nail up on the wall etc…and have a photo of the baby printed, so soon after birth. Result it ended up in s bag for charity things.

  12. What a good idea, especially the Batiste! We were really lucky with presents, I think (though we WERE brought flowers and I did think it was a poorly-thought-out choice at the time.) Our most ridiculous present has become rather a sentimental one; my husband’s lovely great-aunt knitted some absolutely massive booties. They were comedically large and totally reeked of cigarette smoke. She passed away last Christmas, and of course we’ll always keep her handiwork – I’m thinking after a good wash they’ll do him for inside wellies later this winter, maybe!

  13. I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy 9lb 11oz baby who must have outgrown his newborn clothes weeks before he made it into the world! The most useless gift we received was a beautiful set of tiny baby clothes which were sent to us by a family friend when my baby was eight weeks old. By that time he was already in his 3-6 month clothes!

  14. Have to disagree, think flowers are a great gift, love flowers and they cost so much so it’s a total treat to have them. Don’t recall feeling overwhelmed by watering them! By breast feeding yes, that was overwhelming but wouldn’t say flowers tipped me over the edge. Nice treaty things for me went down well, including posh candles from
    Neom (happiness one is wonderful) for long winter afternoons, and posh bath products because daily shower/bath felt like only me time in the beginning, where the pain wasn’t so bad – dr haushka I think. A lovely hamper of nice foods we preferred over cooked dishes and it was lovely that people did the washing up – this time round i want extra cleaner for 3 months! No crap gift as was overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity, especially those who sent cards and gifts by post. Least useful pressie for me was clothes as buying baby clothes is such a joy and quite personal, often didn’t like what we were given – unless it was from petit bateau!! Petit bateau is a good gift!! Magazines would be good too and help entertaining older siblings will def be needed! Oh best pressie was def def def voucher for cowshed massage from my lovely sis in law!!!

  15. I didn’t actually receive anything for me once our daughter had been born…everything was for her, which was lovely of course, but the very worst bit was the constant stream of visitors who all expected me to play hostess and make them cups of tea whilst they cuddled MY baby. Bear in mind that I’d had an emergency caesarean due to placental abruption so I really wasn’t in the right state of mind to be looking after guests so soon after! I even had some comments about the house needing a clean!!!!
    We’re expecting baby number two in March and this time I’m determined to put my foot down when people come over- their gift to me can be to make me a cup of tea or even a sandwich, or maybe they can do the washing up!

  16. Love love this idea and think many new mums will appreciate one of the gifts…the dry shampoo in particular made me laugh. Like most other ladies on here, we didn’t receive anything particularly ridiculous, most were thoughtful and appreciated. But there were a few that never got used…namely a nappy sac dispenser which attatches to your buggy?!) and anything from Clinton cards!

  17. I was delighted to receive a bouquet from the guys that work for my husband and I in our own business when child number 4 was born – until I checked the purchase ledger the following month and the flowers had been bought from a florist where we have an account – so we’d actually paid for our own bouquet!!!

  18. A facial hair trimmer. From my mother. I’m not sure what she thought would happen to me after I gave birth, or whether she had issues with facial hair, but I suppose at least it didn’t need watering! (And as they left my granny sneakily asked if she could have it instead, so it wasn’t entirely wasted!)

  19. A facial hair trimmer. From my mother. I’m not sure what she thought would happen to me after giving birth, or whether she had issues with facial hair, but I suppose at least it didn’t need watering! (And just as they were leaving my granny sneakily asked if she could have it instead, so it wasn’t entirely wasted!)

    These sound an altogether lovlier idea.

  20. I hope whoever bought it me does not read this, but… I got bought the most use thick plastic wanna be porcelain child’s cutlery set that did not even work. A cutlery set that does not pick up food?! Not only that I can’t bring myself to get rid so it clutters up the draw😁

  21. I love this idea so much! I wish I’d been given something like this after the birth of my baby.

    I received a fake fur jacket for a baby. It was white. Very practical… Not.

    Date night! Perfect for us, we’ve not had many of those in the last year. Our daughter has only just started sleeping at a normal baby time (sometimes’!) and she’s nearly 11 months old.

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