The topic of family coming to visit/help after a baby arrives can be a sticky one. Different families have different dynamics. Perhaps you are welcoming your parents or in-laws to come visit with open arms. More likely, there is some person or persons in that mix that you would rather not have to deal with when you are stressed, sleep deprived, and hormonal. For the most part, we all appreciate our family’s good intentions (even if they are misguided) and we do not want to hurt anyone’s feelings. It is hard to make too many generalizations about what will work for you and yours, but these are some of the things that I have learned over the past three babies that I think can apply to most all expecting mamas.
It’s a given that every visitor wants to see and hold the new baby, but it is important to dig a little deeper than that before your helpful guests arrive in order to make sure everyone is on the same page. Are they actually planning to help? And what do they consider helping? What do you consider helping? Do they have other people or places that they are trying to visit while they are in town? Or are they solely there to help your family with the baby? These questions may be difficult to ask, but they should be asked in advance. Be prepared and accepting if not everyone is willing to help in the way you want them to because let’s be honest, not everyone will be the best help in a new baby situation anyway!
Will your visitors stay with you or in a hotel? This may seem obvious to one party or the other, but neither of you should assume. You also should consider who, if anyone, you want at your birth or if it is better to have visitors come well after your due date. My second and third babies were both late. Even though it was only a matter of days for each, this made for an excruciatingly long waiting game for my parents (who tried to time their visit for each birth), which in turn stressed me out more. However after the birth of our first, we did learn to spread our help out by asking some family to come for the birth and other family to come later so that we didn’t have a flood of visitors for the birth and then no help after. Again, you have to find a way to address these sometimes delicate boundaries well before your guests arrive.
Again before anyone arrives, jot down a list of your everyday household chores that must get done and any particularities you might have about them. If your super type-A like I am, this list could get long (see Learn to Let Go, below). Keep in mind that immediately after baby comes, your top priorities are taking care of baby and taking care of yourself. Especially if you are breastfeeding, you will be spending a lot of time with baby. This means you will need to take it easy and let other people handle the chores around the house for a little while.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help When/Where You Need it
Even as I say this, I get that it can be awkward to ask you mother-in-law to make you a sandwich. But you don’t have time to make a sandwich because you have to go breastfeed again. And you need to eat. So just ask.
Learn to Let Go
As mentioned above, I am super type-A, so this was by far the hardest thing for me. I like my house run a certain way and our extended family of course doesn’t know all of my little quirks because they do not live with us. There was no way I could just do it all myself because I had a baby to take care of. And that’s ok. I know there are some more laid back mamas out there who don’t care at all how the dishwasher gets loaded and I say, good for you! I am still working on getting to that level of chill, but in the mean time, we use paper plates whenever people come over. Maybe not so good for the environment, but so much better for my sanity.