Managing your baby’s first visitors
Whether you’re a brand new, first-time mum or a seasoned wrangler of two bringing home a third; labour is hard work! You’ve spent 9 months creating a tiny little human in your body and now that tiny little human is gracing the world. While you may want to show off your bundle of joy to friends and family, fatigue and daily newborn duties may be restricting. Adding to the mix: grandparents, uncles twice-removed, the neighbours, and that friend from high school you haven’t spoken to in a decade; all want to descend upon your digs to squish your baby’s cheeks. Here’s how to cope:
Don’t be too hard on yourself (or your partner)
Between breastfeeding, nappy changes, intermittent sleep, and heaps more new responsibilities; self-care might be taking a back seat. You forego a shower to soothe the cries, and dishes pile up sky-high as you settle into parenthood. It’s still important to be mindful of your own health, as it will also affect that of your baby. Your partner, may also be feeling overwhelmed and it may take some time for the both of you to adjust and sort out a routine. All new parents go through it. If you haven’t vacuumed or the washing is overdue, don’t feel swamped— your guests will not judge you and you shouldn’t either. Don’t worry about having everything perfect or playing hostess, and allow for your recovery.
Make preparations in advance
A visitation can go more smoothly if you make some preparations in advance. Make guidelines for your guests. Have everyone wash their hands as soon as they enter your home, to reduce the spread of germs. Will you wake the baby up if someone is visiting? Are you comfortable with them touching or holding your baby? Never feel obligated to pass your child around like a hot potato, and do step in if you become ill-at-ease with someone cuddling your baby too long. Babies can become irritable with too much stimulation, so formulate an exit strategy to end the visit should the need arise.
If you have a partner that will be present, communicate how and when they can help you. That can be emotional support, nappy-changing, handling the food and drink, or if it comes down to it: removal of guests. Voice what will make you feel comfortable and more at ease during the gathering.
It can also be a good idea to dedicate a space or room in your dwelling for the visit. This will take the stress out of feeling the need to tidy up. If you’re setting up shop in the living room, prepare some items to be easily accessible: your nappy bag, wipes, a towel for catching spit up. Focus on making the space comfortable for both you and your baby.
Remember the saying: “It takes a village to raise a child.” Your guests will often times offer a helping hand. Let them! In many countries, it is customary for the mother to take a 30-45 day sabbatical from any duties other than tending to the newborn, as relatives or friends take the responsibilities of cleaning and cooking. Don’t be shy to ask a friend to grab a few household essentials, or that tub of ice cream you’ve been dreaming of, on their way over. Most visitors will not come empty handed. Whether it’s just loading the washing, tidying up, or preparing a meal; your visitors will feel like they are contributing and it will take a load off your shoulders.
Motherhood can be flood-full of emotions. Joyful and energetic one minute, anxiety-ridden and vulnerable the next; your body is experiencing hormonal changes and it can be quite taxing. Choose your visitors wisely. It may be hard to say no to visitation requests from immediate family, but Cathy from HR can wait until you are ready. Make it as stress-free as possible for yourself and the baby. Scheduling multiple visits in one day can make clean-up easier and frees up the rest of your week for one on one bonding time, and most importantly, rest and recovery. Strategic grouping can be crowd control in itself: your kooky coworker may tone it down with others around. If you have that friend who loves to chat until the cows come home, save the pleasantries and be direct: the baby needs feeding or it’s nap time, and it was nice to see you!
Have a day out
If having visitors in your home is too daunting, consider planning an outing. Newborns are not very opinionated as to the location of their debut, so use their size and mobility to your benefit. Leaving the fortress and going to a café or a friend’s house will let you regain just a little sense of humanity, and eliminate having to clean up afterwards. It gives you control over the situation and you can end or prolong your visit as you like. This is also a good opportunity to have your cake AND eat it too, by seeing several friends at once. Change of scenery can also be a great mood booster, which is beneficial to both you and the baby. Remember, visitation is supposed to be fun. So, take a quick shower, pack a few nappies, and haul yourselves to your favourite ice cream parlour.
The most important thing to remember about your baby’s first visitors is to not stress too much. You may have a perfect plan in place, but your baby has been screaming all night and you haven’t had a blink of sleep. Just like babies, mommies can get cranky too. Don’t feel obligated to receive a social call. Allow yourself to reschedule; more likely than not your friends and relatives will understand that you have a tiny little human to take care of, and that you need your rest. Whether it’s your first or your third, adjusting to life with a newborn takes time. Relish in those chubby cheeks!