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Your New Baby: Setting Rules for Family and Friends

Your new little one has finally arrived…and so has carload after carload of excited family and friends. Problem is, you’re exhausted from the lack of sleep and from the physical demands of childbirth, and you’re not ready to take on all kinds of visitors. To keep you and your baby’s health – and your sanity – intact, you need to set some ground rules from the very beginning.

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Of course, finding the right balance can be tricky. On the one hand, you will welcome friendly faces and helping hands. And you don’t want to put off those people who could turn out to be wonderful resources for you during your time of need. On the other hand, you need to bond with your new baby and not have to worry about cleaning up the house or looking presentable. Plus, you want to make sure that no one is bringing in germs that could make you or your baby sick during the critical early weeks. That’s why it’s a good idea to get as many rules in place ahead of time as you can. You’ll want to consider each of the following:

Who Stays at Your House: If you’re lucky, you’re close enough to your mom or mother-in-law or sister to want her to stay with you and help out when the baby comes. Yet there are plenty of moms-to-be who are completely stressed out by the idea. If this is how you feel, you’ll have to let your relatives know that either they can stay in a hotel and be with you during the day, or that you’d rather wait for them to visit until you get settled on your own. At this early stage, no relatives other than the very closest ones should plan to stay at your house (unless you want them to), and you need to make this rule clear to them ahead of time.

Sometimes both sets of new grandparents want to be at the house at the same time This is another situation that you need to work out beforehand. Will one set of grandparents be willing to stay in a hotel? Will both sets of grandparents be willing to stagger their visits so that they are not all there at the same time? They need to understand your need for as little stress as possible. And if you can show them that you understand how excited they are about a new grandchild, they will probably be more willing to meet your needs.

Who Comes to Visit: Most people seem to understand that new moms don’t want lots of visitors or phone calls, but there are always a few who insist on making an appearance. If you have a close friend or relative who is staying with you, let her be the one to answer the door or the phone and tell well-wishers, “She and the baby are sleeping right now, but I’ll let her know that you stopped by.” Don’t feel pressured into seeing – or entertaining – anyone who shows up without notice. Some moms have a group of friends through church or a mom’s group who want to help. Let one friend be in charge of organizing the group and have them schedule dinner drop-offs every few nights Then your friends can see you for short periods of time staggered throughout the week.

Who Gets to Hold the Baby: When your visitors come over, the first thing they’ll want to do is meet – and hold – the baby. But if you don’t feel comfortable having someone hold the baby, it’s OK to tell them you’d rather do the holding. If they do hold the baby, it’s fine to insist that they wash their hands first. And if the person has a cold or cough, you are within your rights to ask them to stay home. If you feel bad about having to say no, tell them it’s your doctor’s orders.

Making the rules can be a delicate task because you don’t want to put anyone off, but you need to make sure that you are doing what’s best for you and your baby during this critical time. If you can set reasonable rules – and do so with good humor – people will most likely respect your wishes. You’ll also set an important precedent for many family and social obligations in the years to come.


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