Managing New Baby Visitors
When a new baby comes home from the hospital, excited visitors come hand in hand with diaper changes and midnight feedings (Thankfully, the visitors are usually a lot more fun!). Even though you're dying to show off your bundle of joy and celebrate with family and friends, it's important to keep things realistic and manageable. The trick? Communicate clearly and set expectations from the start.
Appoint an ambassador. As soon as you can, ask a close friend to be your point person for scheduling visits. He or she can get the word out about when you'll be ready to see people, give you a heads-up before friends arrive, and set (and enforce!) any ground rules ahead of time. Here are a few suggestions: Keep visits under 15 minutes, don't come without food (but don't dream of bringing Brussels sprouts...), be ready to change a diaper.
Set a schedule. Through your ambassador, let friends and family members know what times and/or days you're most likely to be prepared for visits. This helps protect you from unexpected drop-ins, and it gives visitors permission to stop by or call at times without worrying that they'll be bothering you or the baby.
Be honest. Let drop-by visitors know that you might have to cut things short if the baby gets fussy or you can't keep your own eyes open. And don't be afraid to ask friends to bring food when they come. The last thing anyone expects you to do is cook them a meal or, for that matter, clean the house. If there's ever a time not to worry about vacuuming or doing dishes before people visit, this is it!.
Plan ahead. For longer-term guests (particularly grandparents), work up a list of responsibilities before they arrive, so they know exactly what you expect of them up front, from laundry to grocery shopping to diaper duty. If they're staying longer than a couple of days, booking a hotel room or furnished apartment may well make more sense than having them bunk with you. That way you'll all get your own time to decompress at the end of the day.
"My parents rented a place close by and cooked dinner every night," says new mom Eve Gilbert of Alameda, CA. "But they also took some time to play tennis and do a few other activities they liked, so I didn't feel so guilty that they were just waiting on us."
This information is not a substitute for personal medical, psychiatric or psychological advice.