Okay, I admit it, I am a little focused on newborns right now. If you are a new parent wondering how to handle the social whirl brought on by the birth of you little one(s) or a visitor to a new family, this article is for you.
The Social Whirl
It’s friends popping in to see the baby. “No, no don’t let me bother you. I’ll just stay a moment.” They stay for 20 minutes, but this is the fourth visitor this morning. Mom is exhausted, baby has been handled and wakened by well-meaning friends and it seems that it just won’t end.
While your friends say they just want to see the baby and don’t need any refreshments Mom can’t help it. There she is making coffee and trying to find some cookies to serve her friends. After all, it’s just good manners when you have guests.
Short of leaving town, what can new parents do to control the parade of visitors?
Some fortunate parents have relatives who show up willing to help. The most helpful role they can play is to take care of the house and cooking and free the parents for childcare. New parents need lots of time just to look after baby. If you have family members who offer to stay, be realistic. Are you comfortable with these people in your home? Will they help or create more work? Talk to them about their role, clarify your expectations then relax and let them help. If you know these guests will mean extra work or stress for you explain that you want to be alone with the baby while you adjust to the change and that you’ll come and visit soon. Meanwhile send pictures.
There are steps you can take to make these first few weeks more comfortable without alienating any of your friends.
• while you are still pregnant ask people to phone before they drop by.
• learn to say “no”, or have someone else answer the phone and say you are too busy, too tired for guests.
• wear a housecoat. This gives a clear message that you are not up to entertaining.
• if you don’t have family to help, hire help. If you know a teen whom you plan to use as a babysitter pay her to help with the housework. This gives the teen a chance to get to know the baby and observe how you care for her.
• if you will need help, let your friends know. When a friend says, “What can I do to for you?” tell her. Ask her to go shopping, throw in a load of laundry or take the kids for a walk so you can have a nap.
Friends who want to be helpful can:
• bring over meals and then disappear.
• drop in to do the laundry, vacuum or run errands.
• remember, a woman who has had a caesarian section will be even more tired, friends and family should take this into account.
• take older siblings out for fun activities, especially large muscle exercise
• offer to drive older siblings to their planned activities.
A new baby is a magnet. This wonderful, beautiful infant brings out a myriad of feelings in all of us. Everyone wants to see and hold the baby and visit the family. This is natural.
New parents need to put aside their normal welcoming stance and understand that having a baby is exhilarating, exhausting and overwhelming. The needs of baby and Mom needs must come first. When that happens the transition to living with the new child will be easier, the baby will thrive and friends and family can visit as soon as child and Mom are ready.
Bringing Parenting Today to your event.
Parenting Today is keen to speak as part of your professional development event, parenting workshop or workplace wellness support program. I offer keynotes and workshops, have written books and have ongoing newspaper columns, books, blogs and newsletters. And, no matter what the actual topic, they all share a basic value that I call
P — is a parenting plan
U — is unconditional love
R — is respect for your child as he is right now
E — is encouragement
These make up the framework of any resources that will come from Parenting Today. These four pillars are the essential ingredients for raising healthy children who will develop into capable young men and women.
I’ll be in Toronto September 8 to 10 and in Winnipeg from December 2 to 4. I am happy to extend these trips if you wish to book an event. I will also be in Calgary and can coordinate that trip to meet your scheduling needs.