Having company over after labor and delivery is not easy. Just thinking about it stresses me out…even a year later. The learning curve is HUGE and you feel like you are just surviving. It’s hard to explain to a bunch of delighted people that you just “aren’t feeling up to it.” It happens all over the world to every mama. You could go through the list:
- I am not sleeping.
- I don’t know how to breastfeed comfortably yet.
- My body hurts.
- The baby is unpredictable, and I don’t know how to read her yet.
- I am stressed out by you seeing inside my house.
The list could go on and on. My husband did not feel any of this. But he did feel the pressure to let people in and to let them help me. I wondered how to make this easier. How do other women do this? How do they not feel judged? I remember wondering who it was appropriate to breastfeed in front of. What a crock!
I thought that the answer to this could probably be two-fold. Part of it was me. I was guarded. I didn’t want to fail. I was worn out and though my house didn’t turn into a wasteland while I was first taking care of Anouk, it wasn’t as nice as I usually kept it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s right to give up all your space and time to appease the people around you. I just think it is possible to make a window of opportunity in which people can visit and then go. If you aren’t about breastfeeding in front of your husband’s guy friends, you don’t have to. People will understand if you give them a window. Swing by before 5 when the baby goes down! Or we are still figuring out the napping thing, Come by before noon and if he’s getting a little rough, it might be time to go for now.
The other thing. This needs a little back story. I grew up with a mom who made a Wednesday lunch feel like an occasion. I remember coming home from school and seeing that she had set up a coursed lunch with friends that was still on the table. She knows how to throw a good party…or afternoon. You can imagine, then, that I might feel some pressure to have things in order when I know people are stopping by. Jay and I are different here… but there’s no changing what I think of (and grew up with) as normal.
So here are the hacks. Easiest ways to let people over after baby.
- Make sure your family is feeling good before you start letting people in. It’s amazing how a little bit of free advice can really sully your day. Don’t let people in before you are comfortable with yourself. This means your immediate family. You, and the people in your household.
- Plan for when works for you. No one else is the mom. They don’t know what last night was like. They don’t know how your body feels. They don’t know how your head and heart feel. If you are feeling the snowball effect, put on the brakes. It might be easiest to have someone advocate for you, be it your partner, sister, mother, father. Whomever you know can spread the word that you need some time to rest and get on track with baby bonding.YOU are the most important factor in your baby’s life. Your health directly correlates to your baby’s health. Do not take that for granted.
- Establish some boundaries with your partner or family before company even arrives. Let them know that you might need to take a break for a bit. Tell them before-hand so that there is no confusion. When it is time, just send out the signal so that it is received.
- Set up a food table. It doesn’t have to be fancy. In fact, you can get the stuff before baby comes. People usually want to bring over food, so just keep the accoutrements handy.
- Set out some glasses, napkins, and silverware. Keep it easy, so keep disposable.
- Keep out snack bowls with various kinds of chips, crackers, or other nibbles. You will find yourself eating around the clock, anyway. Keep it handy. Heat up some prepared food. Chili, soups, casseroles. They freeze well, and store for a while. If you have time, make this stuff up before you have baby so that you can just thaw and heat. People can come over and you don’t really have to do anything.
- Get a drink station going. Make sure it is manageable. A coffeemaker, a pitcher, some cups. Make people feel free to take care of themselves. The truth is, they are there to hold the baby and help you. They don’t want to be a burden to you.
5. Keep a pen and paper handy. Jot down who is stopping over and what they are bringing. Not all of the gift giving happens at baby showers. And so much generosity comes your way as people help you out with little things like bringing food, baskets of goodies, offering help with baby care, etc. Keep track. You can keep a running list and send cards after you feel up to it.
6.Take it in. Enjoy watching people gush over the tiny toes and the cute nose. It doesn’t last forever. Your baby will feel the love, and needs it. Enjoy having your arms to yourself. Snap a few photos and enjoy your space!
Any tips from when you had people over? Were you stressed? How did you manage it? Let me know!