At the hospital… make your partner the gatekeeper
As much as you love your family and feel touched that they want to come and visit your newborn baby, you’ll also need your own space and warning when visitors are approaching!
Make your partner the gatekeeper and get him to spread the word that you need time to rest, recuperate and bond with your baby. Get him to keep watch and take charge of the visiting schedule, so you can concentrate on recovering and spending uninterrupted time with your baby.
Be clear from the start about when family can start visiting
Ok, so you may not need a megaphone to relay this message, but sometimes it’s hard to spread the word to everyone.
Tell friends and family to hold off with the visiting straight after the birth, until they get the nod from your gatekeeper. If need be, quote etiquette experts who say that the maternal grandmother should always be first in the queue. This should stop everyone flocking to the hospital minutes after you’ve given birth.
Save the bundles of gifts, flowers and food for home visits
Receiving gifts and flowers is wonderful, and even though the thought is there, tell friends and family not to bombard you with hundreds of bouquets, baby balloons and food while you’re still in hospital.
As lovely as these gifts are, you’ll have to get them all home when it’s time to leave the hospital, as well as your baby and his essentials. Getting to grips with how much baby gear you’ll have to carry around from now on is daunting enough – hundreds of helium balloons will only add to the pressure!
Tell your loved ones to save their gifts until you get home, so you can fully appreciate them.
Make up a secret sign for when you’ve had enough
Being surrounded by people day and night can be tiring, especially after you’ve given birth! If you’ve had enough but feel rude telling people to leave you be, make up a secret sign that only you and your partner know.
Then when you’re starting to feel like you need time-out, send out the signal so your partner can subtly hustle visitors out without you saying a word!
Have a ‘must knock’ (or ‘must text’) policy
After you’ve given birth or been surviving on minimal sleep, it’s fair to say you won’t be looking your best. To avoid embarrassment and feeling insecure around visitors popping in, set up a ‘must knock’ policy for the hospital room. That way, no one can walk in unannounced, catch you half-naked or invade your privacy.
Alternately, have your partner spread the word that everyone needs to text if they plan to visit – this gives you the chance to suggest a later time or different day if you’re really not feeling up to it.
At home… make the most of the people in your house
Now you’re at home, the visiting flurry won’t stop. In fact, it could get worse! But the large number of visitors making their way in and out of your home can have its advantages. Think of them all as extra pairs of hands!
Get them to help out with tidying up, helping out with your other children (if you have them) and of course, holding your baby when you feel tired. Sometimes, directing people can be as draining as doing it yourself, so put a sign on the cupboard where the tea/coffee is kept for people to make their own, or let the guests know they need to hold your baby for as long as it takes you to have a shower!
Food, not flowers
If people ask what they can bring, don’t be shy at asking for them to bring a packet of biscuits or something edible – if not for you, then for the stream of visitors coming in and out. It means there’s one less thing for you to worry about playing the host over.
Having a stockpile of treats and drinks that are easy for guests to help themselves to means less work for you. You can simply point them in the direction of the kitchen!
Get the answering machine to do the work for you
If you can’t face seeing everyone at first or hate spending hours on the phone recalling the birth over and over again, let the answering machine do the work for you.
Record a message telling everyone what your ‘visiting hours’ are or if you want visitors at all! That way, your loved ones will know what you want and it’ll avoid everyone turning up unannounced.
Create a schedule
As militant as this sounds, a visiting schedule can work, especially if you’ve got a big family eager to see your baby, or family members and friends that don’t gel. It might even be that you just want a day that’s for you and your own mum and dad to bond with the new arrival. Write it down, and don’t be afraid to tell people that day is off the cards.
Blame the midwife!
As a last resort, if you’ve run out of hints and subtle nudges for your guests to leave, you can always have a few excuses on standby.
Sometimes people aren’t good at taking hints, but if you blame a midwife appointment, they can’t really argue. Stick to little white lies like this though, and steer clear of big fibs that might get you into trouble, cause people to worry or lead to loads of questions.