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Your support system wants to know the best way to help.
Navigating the needs of a new baby is an unbelievably physically and mentally draining experience for parents. Much of which falls upon mothers, who are also healing both physically and mentally on top of it all. When you set healthy boundaries, visitors know exactly what you expect of them. And how they can help and support you best.
In my recent interview with Family Medicine and Delivery Doctor, Julie Farias, she mentioned a few practical tips visitors should be aware of to be as supportive as possible during this stressful time. I’ve also added my own ideas to the list based on my recent experience as a relatively new mother. Since it’s still all so fresh in my mind.
Not only will this list be helpful to new parents or second-time parents, it’s a great resource for your visitors as well. So if you have a loved one who recently had a baby or is about to have one, or someone forwarded you this article, please take it as a friendly hint.
Communicate these 7 visitor tips as a guide to start setting healthy boundaries.
1. As Julie says, “Never come over to a new parent’s house to just sit there and stare at the baby.” Or as I say: Swing by and leave promptly. No matter how excited you are to see that little bundle of joy, your visit should be a reasonable length of time. Seriously plan on 30 minutes max, unless you are pitching in to help around the house or you’re clearly giving mama a much needed social break.2.
2. Ask how you can be helpful or better yet: Just. Be. Helpful! Bring a homemade meal, takeout, or treat for mom or ask what you can pick up on the way over. Do dishes, fold laundry. Just contribute in some way.
3. Never, ever, ever, ever come by unannounced unless you are dropping something off on the front step and leaving. Always text before stopping by. I legitimately walked around in only a nursing bra and dirty comfy pants for the early weeks.
4. Please remember: New parents are not expected to entertain you during the first few weeks–or months!–of having a baby. We made the mistake of having guests over for dinner where we hosted the meal and I ended up cleaning up afterward. Cue the stressed crying meltdown. Let’s avoid that.
5. Don’t come empty handed. When I had my new baby a few months ago, the most welcome gifts were a bag of postpartum recovery goodies from my best friends. (Check out my 10 Postpartum Recovery Must Haves for some great ideas). It had personal necessities including pads, witch hazel pads, epsom salts, comfy nursing clothes, and nursing snacks. I also got the most generous gift box of self-care goodies to pamper myself from my SIL. I recommend the essential Mama Gift Set from Tubby Todd. They’re an affiliate partner of mine offering you 10% off your first purchase at checkout when you shop here.
6. Everyone deals with stress differently. If you’re not sure what will be the most helpful for a new mom or dad, simply ask.
7. Don’t take things personally. It may be a long time since you had kids, or maybe you don’t have kids of your own. Just remember, this is an extremely trying and emotional hormone-fueled rollercoaster ride for new parents. Please do not add to their stress in any way. And if you get snapped at or someone is short with you or doesn’t seem appreciative, take it with a grain of salt. Everyone is doing the best they can.
The way you raise your kids is up to you.
Reminder to new and not-so-new mothers: you have the right to make specific requests and set healthy boundaries with any visitors you welcome into your home or the hospital room. Because you also have the right to experience parenthood the way you want to. Many of your guests will be parents themselves. These people will completely understand where you’re coming from. Plus, they already got the chance to raise their kids the way they wanted to. So don’t let them project their choices and preferences onto you as time goes on. And if you don’t have the mental energy right now to discuss these things, just send them this article, seriously.
What is right for your family may mean no guests in the hospital room. (I highly recommend this. Maybe the only blessing that came out of the Covid quarantine times.) It may mean no guests for a few days once you’re back home. Or that you limit yourselves to one visit a day. Or visits only last 15 minutes. These are all choices that are yours to make and should be communicated openly and honestly. The earlier you communicate your wishes, the easier it is to get well-meaning loved ones on the same page and have your needs met.
It isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.
And if anyone tries to make you feel guilty, doesn’t understand, or doesn’t respect your wishes? Hold firm, unapologetically. Once again, this is your right. As you decide what’s best for your family, make it a habit to set healthy boundaries early and often. Do this each time you encounter things you feel strongly about along the way. It will pay off for years to come and get easier and easier with time. I promise. By the way, if you’ve set healthy boundaries recently, let me know what they were in the comments below.
Sincerely, a mama who is glad to be finally finding her own voice.
And feel free to check out my little self care gift shop if you want to treat yourself (or pamper a friend) with something special today while supporting this blog and other mama-owned businesses!
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