So this post has been an idea floating around in my head for about a year now. I want to share a few tips for friends and family who are visiting a new baby and new parents.
Some of these tips are things that Chris and I implemented when we had Jane and are so thankful we did. I'm speaking from personal experience in this post and these opinions are my own so if you don't agree just skip that point and go onto the next one. This is simply my little rant on things that people did when we were fresh home from the hospital that were awesome and some things that weren't so awesome..
1. DO NOT overstay your welcome.
This is the first item on my list and I think everyone should hear it. New parents are exhausted and need their space. Not only are they getting no sleep but this is a time in their life that they have grown as a family and need to be spending that time together.
Only stay for an hour max then politely excuse yourself and leave. It doesn't really matter who you are, from siblings and cousins to old friends and co-workers. Take a mental note of when you arrive and be out the door within that hour. Often people are too nice to kick you out the door even when they're exhausted and don't want to entertain or chat anymore.
*Super close family members or friends ie. Mom's or best friends are the exceptions and this is only if they have been asked to stay longer. I was so very blessed to have a few people stay and watch Jane for an hour or two so I could take a nap or shower. So unless you are asked to stay longer, it's time to leave.
2. DO Bring Food.
Chris and I asked everyone who wanted to come visit us and meet Jane that they bring us a meal. We were too busy with a new baby to even think about trying to cook and eat meals (her being colic didn't help as we got zero sleep and dealt with screaming all day every day). So find out what the couple likes and bring it over. Our family was so awesome with this. We had a freezer full of butter chicken, meatballs, chicken pot pie, the list goes on.
3. NEVER, and I repeat, never show up unannounced.
There's nothing worse than settling in for the evening or trying to have a nap and having someone knock on your door. Just the thought of visiting or entertaining another person when you weren't expecting it is gut wrenching. Not that we didn't enjoy the person's company but sometimes we just needed to be alone. So always make plans with the new parents ahead of time. You aren't the only person who wants to see the new baby and as important as you are they may already be 'visited out' for the day. Don't be offended, they're just too tired and will plan to see you when it works best.
4. DO NOT give them your advice.
Unless you are specifically asked a question, new parents don't want to hear a hundred and one stories or opinions on how to raise their new baby. Even if they are first time parents. And if you yourself don't have any kids definitely don't give them your opinion. If you haven't had kids you don't understand, and even if you have kids each kid is different. So politely keep your opinion to yourself even if your intentions are well and you are trying to help.
Jane was colic and if her constant screaming didn't drive us crazy enough the number of times people suggested things to help sure did.
"Have you tried taking her for a car ride?"
"Have you burped her?"
"Have you given her a bath?"
yes. yes. yes and yes. She is my daughter do you not think we have tried everything we can to help her?
I am so thankful that so many people were trying to help but when you need to remember is that you aren't the only person giving advice. We would hear the same suggestions on repeat every day and it became discouraging. So yes we as new parent's know you're trying to help and don't mean any harm. But try and keep your opinions to yourself unless you are asked specifically.
Related: You can read the post about her colic here.
5. DO the dishes or help with laundry.
Now maybe you're not THAT close of a friend to help with the laundry but anyone can wash or put away a few dishes. Dishes were the one thing that Chris and I hated most. We had so many people over to see Jane and were constantly entertaining that the pile of coffee mugs, tea cups and saucers became our Everest. So if you can, wash your mug after you're done with it or offer to do the dishes. It will help out a lot.
*This isn't limited to dishes and laundry. If they have a yard that needs mowing or kids to be picked up from school offer to do that as well. Anything you feel comfortable doing helps. As a new Mom I found it very difficult to ask for help and I'm positive I'm not the only one. So the new parents might not ask you to do something but if you offer I'm sure they will be so thankful for the help.
6. DO take the dog out.
This one is super simple but really made a big imact. If the couple has a pet see if they need a hand feeding or taking it out for a pee. These pets need some loving too especially with a little tiny stranger who just moved in getting all the love and attention they used to get. A new baby can be tough on animals too so if you happen to be a dog, cat or reptile person. Spend some time with their pet.
Alright, so that's my little list that made all the difference when we brought Jane home from the hospital. I made it even with three do's and three don'ts.
Do Bring Food
Do Love On Pets
Don't Overstay Your Welcome
Don't Share Your Advice
Dont Show Up Unannounced
Try and remember these the next time you're off to meet a new baby.
These are just a few of the things that really stood out to me. If you have pet peeves from visitors when you had a newborn that aren't on this list please share in the comments! I'd love to hear them.