Top 10 list of how to be perfect visitors for a family with a new baby
- Schedule your visit using email or a text message: With a new baby at home, every hour of the day might be nap time for mom, dad, or baby. Schedule your visit by email or text message rather than by phone. You never know when we might be sleeping. Colin and Heather arranged their visit all by text message -- perfect.
- Check in 20-30 minutes before arriving: With most of our attention on the baby, it's easy to lose track of time. So check in about 20-30 minutes before arriving. Colin sent a text message, but a phone call is fine too. A phone call might be the wake up we need to get going before you arrive.
- Bring a meal: When you visit a family with a new baby, bring food for the closest meal of the day. Heather brought everything to make an awesome Spinach & Steak salad (really good). It even came with some fancy bread on the side. It's great to have one of the meals of the day taken care of when you have a little one that needs most of your attention.
- Be self sufficient: Whenever Heather and Colin visit, we don't have to play host. They feel very comfortable going into our kitchen and finding what they need. We don't really have the energy to host guests right now -- so make yourself at home.
- Wash your hands: Whether you're perfectly healthy or have the sniffles, please wash your hands early and often when visiting a family with a newborn. Newborns don't have the immune system that we do, so it's a really big deal if a newborn gets sick. And as new parents, we really can't afford to get sick either.
- Ask to be kicked out: Even as a close friend, Heather was great about making sure to say "please ask us to leave whenever you need to." Just saying this aloud helps everyone relax. It's kind of the elephant in the room (how long should we stay?"). The best thing to do is simply to make it totally comfortable for the new parents to be able to say "We're tired, thanks for coming."
- Go with the flow: If you visit a house with a newborn, at some point a diaper will need to be changed, or the baby will have to be fed. In our case, Jessica is breastfeeding. Keep the conversation going when mom disappears upstairs with the baby.
- Talk about non-baby things: Yes, we want to talk about the baby, but we've also been living it 24/7 for the last ten days. It's new to us, and it can be a bit much to talk about baby things the whole time. Spice it up with tales of your family drama or what you've been up to lately.
- Small gifts are better: It is truly remarkable that a 6 lb. baby needs so many things. Our house is being taken over by boxes and boxes of gifts and things we "need" for the baby. Heather and Colin brought us a gift, and I was delighted that the bag was small. Inside was a very cute pair of shoes and a blanket. Perfect. Try to avoid bringing the huge box that just takes up more floor space.
- Take photos: Colin walked into the house taking photos, and took a few nice shots later on. These are precious times for us, and we hope that it is also a special time for you. So document it -- and send us copies when you get a chance.
If you haven't visited yet, send us an email or text message -- we would love to see you and have you meet Maya.
Great post, Matt. I'll definitely keep this in mind (and bookmarked) for the future.
I'm a big believer in having a "village" of friends and family who help with raising children and the like, but just how to do that harmoniously is obviously easier said than done.
It's great to hear your reflections from your personal experience. Lots of significant details in there -- and the details do seem to count!
Congratulations Matt and Jess! Maya is absolutely beautiful...Would love to see you all. Once we're all done with our sniffles we'll drop you a line.
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