Some do’s and don’ts for new parents and visitors alike!
It’s only natural that friends and family want to converge and visit a new baby, bearing presents and good wishes. For new parents, the days postpartum are often a little overwhelming, adapting to this fresh reality.
With a little tact and a lot of consideration, it’s possible to manage the influx of visitors so that everyone is happy and healthy at the end of it all.
A few tips for new parents
The first issue for many new parents is when mothers or mothers-in-law invite themselves to stay for ‘a while’ to help you get settled and into a routine. Here’s the thing: if you’re going to have to be polite and bite your tongue every time they offer unsolicited advice, their presence will only add stress to your already upside down life! You have to feel free to say ‘no thank you’ to that offer, so make sure you discuss this with them LONG before baby arrives!
You might want to consider a postpartum doula instead—someone who doesn’t live with you but has seen it all and won’t bat an eyelash if your breakdown in tears, will have just the right advice for most of the little things that tend to upset new parents and won’t judge you for wearing the same sweatpants three days in a row!
Some other tips to keep your new family life running smoothly despite the visitors?
1.Limit your daily allowance of visitors—you can’t spend your day entertaining people, nor will you want to, so tell everyone up front that unannounced drop ins, for the time being, are a no go. If they want to come by, they need to call or text first, so as to be sure that it will be a good time. If you know someone is likely to be a ‘drop in’ head them off at the pass by emailing them before you deliver and let them know that you expect you’ll need a few days to settle in with baby and will email when you are up to having visitors.
2.Think about going to them instead—some visitors are further away or not as mobile, or they might be the kind of people who won’t take a hint when you tell them that it’s time to put the baby down and that you could use a nap too! Put these folks off and wait until you’re feeling up to it and then go to them instead. This way, you can control the duration and timing of the visit a little better and ensure that you and baby are both home and in bed for a nap when you need to be.
3.Have someone run interference—if you have visitors who insist on showing up unannounced, it’s helpful if there is someone around to answer the door and kindly but firmly tell them that it isn’t a good time or who can be the one to stay with them and the baby while you take a little break in your room. This can be a spouse, your doula, or whomever you trust to have around in those initial days!
4.Don’t be afraid to be truthful—this one is tougher but if your aunt walks in and announces that she is thrilled she could come given that she just got over a nasty case of bronchitis, you should feel free to tell them that the baby is still building up his or her immunity so exposure to those germs isn’t a great idea and perhaps she can hold the new arrival next time!
5.Take up offers for help—people often arrive, or call, offering to help but with no real plan as to how they’re going to do that. Take them up on it! Ask them to do the dishes, or throw a load of laundry into the drier. Ask them for prepared meals that you can pop in the oven. Don’t be shy: it’s the one time you can really get away with it so go ahead!
Rules for visitors to keep in mind
Your best friend just had her first baby and you want to be there for her in every way possible but you don’t want to be a pain, so what can you do?
•Check in for a good time to visit and don’t just show up! Everyone might be napping!
•Don’t ask if you can do something for mom; ask her to tell you specifically what she needs done. If she hesitates, insist on it! It’s hard for some to accept help but any new mom will tell you that they remembered that fondly, over the elaborate gift bag!
•Don’t show up empty handed. A onesie or diaper cake is nice but five prepared homemade meals that can be popped into the freezer and then into the oven are even better!
•Don’t offer advice unless asked. Particularly if you don’t have kids of your own. Nobody likes a know-it-all.
•If you are sick, have been sick in the last week or feel like you might be coming down with something, put off your visit. It’s not worth the risk that baby could catch your germs. Mom’s immunity is down too, and the last thing she needs on top of no sleep and crazy bed head is a cold!
•No matter how close you were in the pre-baby days, don’t presume. Walking into mom’s house and snatching the baby out of her hands to cover her in kisses might be the beginning of the end of your friendship! Ask before you touch and wash your hands first!
•Don’t stay long, for the first visit or two. Mom and baby will still be recovering and exhausted, to say nothing of fielding other visitors. Be the person she’ll be glad to see come back again and again!
Those days after a baby is born are precious and exhausting at the same time, so think about how you want to handle visitors beforehand and share your plans with your spouse, visiting family and your doula. Everyone should be on the same page when it comes to dealing with your third cousin once removed showing up a day after the birth!