Usually, when you have visitors to your home it’s nice to make a bit of an effort. You’ll probably tidy up a bit and nip round with the vacuum before they arrive. You might buy a cake or some biscuits (or even bake if you have the time/skills). Depending on who it is and how much effort you want to go to, you may choose to put on something nice, perhaps have some music on in the background, and spritz the place with some air freshener or a light a scented candle.
Well, forget that. When you’ve had a baby all rules go out of the window. When you first arrive home with your newborn everybody will want to come for a look and a cuddle – but don’t feel under any pressure whatsoever to be the hostess with the mostess. In fact, in this situation, you really should do the reverse: instead of asking what you need to do for your visitors, ask how they can help you out instead.
It’s a hectic time. You’re surviving on very little (or at best, broken) sleep whilst trying to get to grips with caring for this amazing new little person in your life, who’s come kicking and screaming (literally) into your world and turned everything upside down. The last thing you want, or need, or indeed should be doing, is running around making cups of tea, putting away washing/toys/last night’s dinner pots, and trying to make anything or anyone look presentable for guests.
It may be hard to accept help but, at times like these when you’re shattered and there are loads of people around just dying to have few minutes with your baby, then take the opportunity. Ask them to watch baby while you have a soak in the bath. See if they’ll take him or her (or older siblings) for a walk round the local park while you catch up on a few of the jobs that have been driving you mad. Or, if you’re stuck in one position feeding for a while, then ask your visitors to put the kettle on, fold the washing or take the bin/recycling out. You’re not admitting defeat. You’re not letting anyone down. You’re not failing at anything – in fact, you’re making the best of the situation and no-one is likely to judge you for it.
If they call to say they’re coming and you’re out of milk, nappies or any other essentials, don’t get yourself and baby ready and rush out to the shops before they arrive – ask if your visitors can pick some up en route. If they bring you a beautiful bunch of flowers, thank them very much then ask if they’d mind popping them in a vase for you (sometimes, as lovely as flowers are, just one extra job for you can feel like one too many). Ok, so you’re unlikely to ask them to clean your toilet, wash your car or weed the garden while they’re there – but if there are little things they can do that will make a big difference to you, then just ask.
Your visitors, especially close family and friends, may well know exactly how you’re feeling and will offer without having to be asked, in which case you have to work hard at suppressing your natural response of ‘No, don’t worry – I’m fine thanks’ and instead, say ‘That’d be a great help, thank you so much.’ It’s not always easy but if help is being offered on a plate then don’t turn it down!
Obviously there will be some visitors who you know better than others and feel more comfortable with, so don’t be afraid to restrict it to just these few close friends and family at first. If someone asks to come and see you and you don’t yet feel ready for making polite conversation, ask if they’ll give you a little more time to get settled. Try to coordinate visitors so they’re not all turning up at once, or at an inconvenient time for you. The last thing you need is to feel under pressure from others as you’re trying to find your parenting feet at this new and exciting (but unbelievably exhausting) time.
Don’t worry, this stage won’t go on forever. It will pass, things will settle down, the influx of visitors will slow, and soon you’ll soon start to get to grips with your new parenting role (it’s not all going to be plain sailing, but those first few days/weeks are by far the hardest!). Maybe, when things have settled in to some form of a routine and you’re feeling more like it, you could ask the people who helped you out round for dinner as a thank you for their support when you needed it most.
Did you find visitors to be a great help or a hindrance during the early days at home with your newborn? We’d love to hear your stories – good or bad!
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