Once word gets out that you're home from the hospital with your new baby, you're likely to receive a barrage of well-meaning visitors who just can't wait to get their hands on the new addition. While all of that attention and enthusiasm from friends and family is fun, when combined with sleepless nights, it can also be downright exhausting.
Saying that I "learned this the hard way" would be a bit drastic, as more than anything, I felt very fortunate that so many people were waiting in the wings to share our excitement. That said, for baby number two, there are a few things I'd do differently. Here's some advice that I wish someone had shared with me to make those first few weeks at home just a little less chaotic.
- Don't Be Afraid to Say No. I hated to turn away any visitors, even if I was in need of a break. But when there's a newborn in the picture, it turns out that it's OK to bend the rules of etiquette a bit. Even if someone is offering the generous gifts of time, company, or food, let them know how much you appreciate the gesture, but that you'd rather wait until a less busy day or week.
- Don't Be Afraid to Say Yes. My default response to offers of help of any sort is usually "we're fine," "just bring yourself," or something to that effect. In retrospect, I wish I'd been a little more honest when friends and family offered to run errands or cook for us. A stop by the drugstore or a pickup at the Chinese restaurant is an easy task for an adult on their own . . . not so much with a newborn. So don't be shy — let people know what you need. You can pay it back later!
- Let Experienced Parents Share Their Tricks. While trying to calm a fussy baby isn't necessarily the most fun part of the first few weeks of motherhood, for someone who hasn't had a newborn in the house in decades, it can be a welcome treat — really. When a childhood friend and her mom came to visit, my little guy got cranky. The friend's mom offered to take him for a bit. She got him to sleep, and I got to relax and visit, hands-free, for a bit.
Keep reading for more baby visitor tips.
- Set Time Limits. This is one time when it's OK to (gently) let your visitors know it's time to leave. When the baby's sleeping, it means the parents can, too — but not if they're entertaining company. You can let friends know before they come over that an hour's a good amount of time for them to stay. Or you can just say, "I hate to do this, but I can barely form a coherent sentence. Can we make plans for another get-together in a few weeks?" That should get your point across.
- Don't Seem Too "Together." There were a few times when I found myself turning down friends' offers to bring over dinner and instead straightening up the house and cooking (or at least picking up food) for them. Totally unnecessary. I was so obsessed as coming across as a laid-back, cool, and composed new mom, that I forgot to relax, focus on my baby, and let others take care of the rest.
- Know That It Doesn't Last Forever. The visits and offers will slow down and eventually come to an end, so take advantage while you can! Be appreciative and remember who was there for you so that you can do something nice for them once you're back into a bit more of a normal routine.