When it comes to having a new baby, you can guarantee that people are going to want to come and meet your little son or daughter the moment they are born. This can be a blessing or it can be hugely stressful, so in this article I’m going to share my best tips on how to deal with post baby visitors.
Boundaries – Some mothers crave the busyness and love visitors, some are exhausted and just want to snuggle. Listen to your instincts and be strong in telling people when it’s time to go (or not to come at all). It is OK to have a babymoon and refuse visitors for a week or two if that is what you would prefer.
Set a time limit upfront – When you arrange the visit, make it clear that they are very welcome to come round but since you are very tired, this visit has to be a short one. An hour seems to be a reasonable length, long enough for a chat and a cuddle, but not dragging on all afternoon. Let them know that next time they can stay a bit longer.
No more than one group of visitors per day – Space out the visitors, so you can relax once they’re gone. It may seem like a good idea to get it all over and done with in a day or two, but it will wear you out, interfere with your own bonding time and be a lot for a new baby to take in.
Remember Dad – Dad’s often get the short straw when it comes to post birth. We forget that they are tired and shell-shocked too, and they are often the ones who get stuck entertaining when visitors turn up. He needs his own time to bond and cuddle with baby too, and shouldn’t have to form a queue behind the well wishers. Talk to each other and organise visits that work for both of you.
Don’t be afraid to ask visitors to help – This is the one time you can get away with asking for help openly and have people desperate to assist you. Ask people to bring a meal, make you a drink and help themselves, rather than have you wait on them. Ask them to pick up a few bits from the shop on their way, or to run the hoover round. Be sure to let them know that they are appreciated and of course, return the favour for them when they need you someday.
Get Zen – Babies are pure little beings and their presence draws people from far and wide. They are like little magnets. People will come out of the woodwork to visit and hold and admire your new baby. Try to see the positive in this and let the baby bring you closer together, rather than being resentful that they haven’t bothered before now. This is a special time and bitterness will spoil it.
Know that people are desperate to hold that baby – If you do decide to allow visitors, they will likely be hoping for a cuddle with your little one. It is a great time for the baby to smell, hear and feel their new extended family, and become familiar with different people. However, when you feel that the baby is ready to be back in your arms, or that they have had enough, don’t hesitate to take them back. I hear time and time again of mothers who were held to ransom by a relative who felt they could comfort the baby, some even refusing to pass them back to their mother. This is a time for establishing boundaries with relatives, and it is important that you set off on the right foot by being firm and taking your child back when you feel they need you. Your instincts are very strongly attuned to your child, you know best.
Prioritise visitors – Grandparents will be hassling you night and day until they get to meet the baby, so it is usually in your best interests to bite the bullet and have them round. On the plus side, they know you best, will forgive your rudeness when you fail to be a good hostess, open the door braless and make-up free in your sloppy pj’s and plonk yourself down on the sofa for the entirely of their visit, contributing to conversations only as much as your baby-brain will allow. They love you and they don’t care. If they do, make them wait a few weeks.
Friends can usually stand to wait a little longer, but if you feel you’re not up to a visit, or they are known for outstaying their welcome, it might be worth considering waiting until you’re up to it and then meeting them somewhere central, or at their home, so you can bail out early if you want to.
Whatever you choose to do, enjoy this special time. The first few weeks with a new baby can be utterly blissful and they go so fast! You should do what feels right to you, prioritise sleep and revel in bonding with this precious little bundle.
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