A good friend of mine and his husband came to visit us a few weeks ago for the first time since we’d had Arthur. He surprised me by admitting that he’d googled the etiquette of visiting a newborn. At the time I laughed thinking “what an Owain thing to do!” But on reflection it was a bloody good idea! Owain had been itching to meet Arthur and see how we were all doing but wasn’t sure when is a suitable time to start nagging for a visit, and it occurs to me that lots of people probably wonder the same thing while others turn up unannounced on day two when the last thing you need or want is visitors! Here are my thoughts on what you should and shouldn’t do when visiting.
1. Never turn up unannounced. No new parents want surprise visitors. I was very fortunate to have had a lovely, easy, straightforward birth. I was home the same day and feeling great but I still didn’t want people just turning up unannounced! Always call or text and ask if you can stop by.
2. When you call or text make sure you give plenty of warning. “Can I come around in half an hour?” Is the most stressful text message I got as a frazzled new mum! I guess people forget how hard it is to be awake, dressed and not crying in a corner somewhere in those first few weeks! I tried to make sure all of our visitors planned their visits at least a week in advance. It meant I knew I had time in the lead up to said visit to make the house look less unloved, be showered and dressed and have my face on. Ideally I’d have Arthur fed and changed and ready for cuddles too if possible. These things may sound unimportant to you, but to be brutally honest, it isn’t about you. A new mum has been through a physically and emotionally traumatic time, and if being showered, dressed and having their make up on makes them feel better able to tackle the day then give them that.
3. When you make a plan to visit, stick to it or let them know as much in advance as possible if you can no longer make it. As I mentioned in point number 2, it’s an epic mission to be ready for visitors. It isn’t just a case of throwing on some clothes and away we go. If I’ve spent a precious “free” hour cleaning the house for the sole purpose of your visit when I could’ve been sleeping or having a relaxing bath, and then you don’t turn up I will plot your death.
4. Don’t leave it up to the new parents to invite you around. Mainly because that just won’t happen! Lots of people said to me “let us know when you’re up for visitors” and then backed off. While I appreciated the space, I never felt like I had a “good time” to invite people around and frankly, between the sleep deprivation and the steep learning curve of being a new mum I really didn’t have time to stop and think “right then, who do I need to text now and invite over”. Leave it a week or two and then drop a casual message to see how everyone is doing and if they’re free for a quick visit soon. It prompts us Mombies to remember we have friends who’d like to see us (always a nice feeling) without being pushy.
5. When you do pop around, keep it brief. We’re Knackered and barely able to string a sentence together most of the time. We can manage an actual conversation for maybe half an hour but that’s your lot! There is nothing worse than having your routine (such as it is) disrupted when a visit you expected to last 30 minutes turns in to several hours of you painfully trying to drop hints while secretly plotting their deaths for not just buggering off already!
6. Forgive us if we don’t offer you teas/coffees like we normally would. I try and remember to do this when people arrive, but honestly, sometimes it’s been a very sleepless night and I totally forget. It’s not that I’ve lost my manners, or can’t be bothered. Promise. Normal service will resume when we’re all getting a little more sleep.