One of the most exciting parts of having a new baby is when your family and friends meet this special little person. It is heartwarming to have your loved ones hold and love your child, particularly for the first time. But let’s face it, after the birthing experience, most moms want to go home and rest and recover, not host a gaggle of insensitive relatives who simply can’t take the hint that mom needs some sleep.
Blogger Amy Morrison of Pregnant Chicken recently wrote a piece outlining tips for new parents for visitors. In it, Morrison churned out gems that I only wished I had followed, like “Go to people that you think will overstay their welcome — don’t have them come to you.” and “Don’t let anyone stay with you that you can’t cry in front of or you can’t tell to shut up.”
In the “put them to work” section, Morrison points out the fact that “Not everyone is comfortable around babies but really want to help, so give them the satisfaction of doing something for you and just enjoy it and thank them.” Invaluable advice.
Behind most of her suggestions is the reasoning that now is the time to make your wants and needs known. I mean there is nothing like the drain and strain of new parenthood mixed with the insane hormonal surges to drown out your otherwise pleasant persona. But also, it’s a good idea to set rules for self-care from the onset of motherhood. That is perhaps, one of the biggest things that many women, as people pleasers, forget to do.
On the flipside, guests need to be sensitive to the new mom. I’d give a pass to those who have never given birth themselves and don’t really know what it’s like, but any mother knows how taxing it is and should know better than to overstay their welcome or go on and on about their own latest drama while you are desperately trying to not collapse from exhaustion.
In my years as a parenting writer, I have noticed that the worst violators seem to be in-laws. It is one thing to have your own mom stay with you when you are vulnerable and feeling horrible, but it is entirely another to have a critical mother-in-law hovering over your every move. Of course, some women report that their own mothers are the critical ones.
No matter the situation, it’s up to each woman to determine before they have their baby what they want- not their mother or mother-in-law. Years from now, when my kids have their own babies, I will let them know I am fully available for anything they need but I will never tell them I am staying with them. I had my own babies and time learning how to be a mother; I’d like to give them and their spouses the same gift. Both mothers and mothers-in-law, as well as siblings and friends should never put their own feelings or need to see the new baby over the new mom.
When a woman has a baby it should be all about her and her precious new child. Unfortunately, what may start out as well-meaning can turn into self-serving. Like Morrison says, sometimes a tag team is required, not only so your spouse can take over when you need some quiet time, but also to fend off would-be visitors. Someone needs to keep watch so that you can both get to know this precious little person alone and in peace. And then when you feel like having guests, invite away…but let it be up to you!
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