When well-meaning family and friends make you feel overwhelmed and bombarded as a new parent.
It’s hard. It’s awkward. You feel guilty. I get it.
I see this a lot as a doula. Many times it is a worry for my clients throughout their pregnancy, leading up to the day they deliver. They are concerned that they will not get quality alone time with their partner and new baby. They appreciate the help around the house with family members cooking dinner, doing laundry, and running to the grocery store. BUT what they really want is some alone time to hold and stare at the baby. To sit in comfortable silence, and not feel like they have to hold a conversation with someone all day long. They don’t want to feel like they have to entertain guests. They want to figure out parenting on their own and not have to listen to other’s recommendations, opinions or parenting philosophies.
Each family is different, each new parent’s worries are different and obviously, no one wants to hurt anyone’s feelings. As my client’s sounding board and navigator I suggest different ways of dealing with these types of situations.
- Have a plan to set “open house-style” visiting hours once you return home with your new baby. This way you can let the important people in your life meet your little one AND know that you’ll be able to have your alone time to bond as a family. Once you announce the arrival of your baby you can add, for example: “We would love for you to stop over and meet the baby on Tuesdays & Thursdays between 11:00 – 2:00 p.m.” This way you can make sure the baby is fed, you’re dressed (if you want), and if you’re comfortable with visitors holding your baby, you can eat lunch with both hands! Obviously, if your baby gets fussy or hungry, do not hesitate to take him back to soothe or feed.
- Some of my clients have family that is coming in from out of town to stay with (or nearby) the new family. This is wonderful for the extra help around the house but sometimes can get too overwhelming and claustrophobic for a new parent. One way to gently suggest some alone time is to have a few day trips in mind to suggest to visiting family members. This is helpful for when the family members are staying in the home with you. Think of some of your favorite, fun and local things for them to visit or see while they are in town, that way they get out of the house and you get some alone time to bond with your new baby.
- If they are staying at a hotel nearby, you can fall back on the “open house-style” visiting hours, but maybe make them a little less rigid. It all depends on how much alone time you’re looking for and what you need on any particular day. All of this can be worked out ahead of time, then adjusted as needed. For example, They come over at 7:00 a.m. help fix breakfast and snuggle baby so you can eat and shower, they stay until noon, then come back around 5:00 to help with dinner and visit until bedtime. It allows you some pampering, then some alone time.
It helps to have some sort of plan in place for visitors and family members. I’ve seen some new parents pretty exhausted from the rush of visitors coming in and out all day long, and a new mother upset because she is just wanting to hold her baby.
If you have a birth or postpartum doula, do not hesitate to reach out to them for advice on how to handle these types of situations. It’s part of our job as doulas, to make sure you are feeling relaxed and comfortable with all aspects of your journey into parenthood.