Becoming a new parent is perhaps one of the most life-altering events you could ever experience. From the physical impact on your body, to the hormonal changes, to the long, sleepless nights, to the instant changes in the dynamic of your household. Postpartum chaos is no joke. It is raw and stressful and exhausting.
It is also beautiful and joyous and exciting. If you’re anything like us, you desperately wanted to share the joy of your new addition with the world, but struggled to find the energy, sanity and “best” time to do so. I’m fairly certain it took us over a month to feel even the slightest bit ready to have guests over after our little guy was born. We strive to be hospitable and gracious hosts, but that’s not always the easiest thing to do on two hours of sleep.
Thank goodness we have very patient and loving family and friends. But that might not be the case for everyone. So before you head on over to get your baby fix, here are five tips to help make a postpartum visit relaxing and enjoyable for everyone:
Short Stays are Best
We love you. We really do. And we love that you love our new baby and want to spend all day hanging out. But we’re also exhausted, and keeping up pleasant conversation for more than an hour can be pretty taxing when you’re running on empty.
Once a more solid routine is established, longer visits are totally acceptable, but in the early days, a short drop in to see the little one and to find out how the new parents are doing is best. A good rule of thumb for a first visit is to aim for half an hour. This way new parents don’t feel either isolated or overwhelmed. Trust me, they’ll appreciate your efforts and your consideration.
Bringing Food is Always a Good Idea
It could be a bag of groceries, a prepared meal, a Tupperware full of soup, or even a chicken dinner from Swiss Chalet. It doesn’t matter. New parents are busy and tired, and they’ve probably been snacking on whatever they can find. Making full meals for the family is a difficult task to coordinate, and certainly for the first couple of weeks they’re not even thinking about getting to the grocery store.
They’ve also probably been up all night. It’s hard to keep your energy up when you’re existing on a grazing diet of saltines and cheese strings.
We don’t want to make it seem like they’re trapped on a desert island with no access to clean food and water, but company arriving with something nutritious is like winning the lottery. An occasional treat is nice, but showing up with an entire box of donuts might not be the most practical. If you go the grocery route, think fruits and vegetables, or meals that can be heated quickly.
Come Clean & Healthy
You would think this goes without saying, but if you arrive still trying to shake that nagging cough, or covered in oil and dirt from a day at work, you’re probably going to set off a few alarm bells.
New parents are hyper aware of the cleanliness of the environment around their newborn. Yes, life gets messy, people get colds, and their little one will eventually have to experience and adapt to that reality. But in these first few weeks you don’t want to burden them with the added stress of having to worry about germs. Even a mild fever or cough can cause a mountain of
New Parents Need Love Too
Having a baby is an emotionally and physically taxing event. Both parents are going through it. Of course everyone wants to know how the baby is doing, but don’t forget to check in on mom and dad.
New parents will need extra emotional support. The arrival of a new baby is a total game changer. Not only are they having to deal with the physical changes that accompany birth, but they are faced with the additional task of navigating their new “normal” with baby. It is not uncommon for new parents to feel emotionally depleted. Be sure they know you’re thinking about them, and show that you have an interest in their health and wellbeing. Believe it or not, just a simple, “How are YOU doing?” can make all the difference in the world.
Don’t Give Advice Unless Asked
When you have a new baby, suddenly everyone around you is an expert. It doesn’t matter if they’ve never had kids, are new parents themselves, or had their kids 40 years ago. They’ll have some advice to share.
The problem is, as helpful as all that advice can be, it’s just information overload. New parents will have specific questions for specific situations, and probably already know the person they need to ask. What they don’t need is the entire trove of information that’s available all in one shot. They also don’t need to hear how much harder you had it when you were new parents. If you are going to give any advice, please make sure it is coming from a place of love and understanding, not from judgement or comparison.
While most people have the best of intentions and only want to help, it’s important to remember that this will be one of the most challenging phases of their lives. Be prepared to offer helpful advice, but wait until they ask for it. Chances are any unsolicited instructions will only be forgotten by the next 2:00 a.m. feeding.