You may be
wondering what you need to do to get ready for visitors. Again, I would
like you to get out of the mode of thinking of the people who will be
staying in your home as guests. Whether they’ll be there a few hours or
a few weeks, they are coming to help you. While you’ll need to figure
out some kind of arrangements for them if they’ll be staying for a
night or longer—for your comfort as well as theirs!—they can handle
many of the details of the trip, such as making their flight
arrangements. And I don’t want to hear about you getting up early to
cook them breakfast!
If you will have guests
in your house for more than a night, keep in mind that everybody will
get along best if there is a place to retreat. You may be getting the
hang of breastfeeding, something that requires less modesty than your
father-in-law may be used to. The baby will probably cry a lot, and the
last thing you want is to be worrying about keeping your
houseguests—er, I mean helpers—awake.
in all, I urge you to keep visitors to a minimum during your transition
to motherhood. Limit those people you invite into your home to the ones
you feel most comfortable with and those who will be most helpful to
you—those “can-do” souls who will gladly jump in and help out where
needed without needing a prod.
I don’t want
to sound stingy or unreasonable. You are about to have a beautiful
baby, and of course you will be very proud of her and want to show her
off. But you will also be entering a very sensitive time of your life.
Hormones will be flying, various body parts will be leaking, you may
doubt your parenting skills, you’ll be running on little sleep, and
your baby will probably spend most of her time either pooping, wailing,
or snoozing. A month or so after your baby is born you will be feeling
much more human, and she’ll have transformed into a cute, chubby little
person who can charm everyone’s pants off. It’ll be the perfect time
for visits from your bossy Aunt Alice or that casual friend from work
who you’d really rather didn’t see you with breast milk stains on your
have a separate guest room, by now it’s surely organized. The
instructions for closets and bathrooms are fairly universal. But if you
didn’t get around to getting this room ready to receive guests, here
are some guidelines to make it functional, fast:
Have a set of clean sheets on the bed and a fresh set of towels for
anyone who stays here. Ask them to wash these items and replace them so
that the next set of helpers will have the same consideration. If the
laundry isn’t done in your home but elsewhere in the complex or at a
public laundromat, be sure one of your helpers is assigned to laundry
duty if your guests are elderly or not capable for some reason of
• If the closet is full
of off-season clothing, rarely used sports items, or memorabilia, be
sure your guests have about five inches of hanging space per person and
a few hangers. Clear the floor space in this section for their shoes.
• A luggage rack is nice if you have one. If not, clear a space on the floor and have one empty dresser drawer per guest.
Pull together a bathroom basket of basic items like shampoo,
conditioner, and body lotion and leave it on the bathroom counter.
Is there a TV or other form of electronic entertainment in the room?
How close is it to the baby’s room or your room? Decide what the ideal
volume setting is and educate your guests. This isn’t a request; it’s a
• If you do not have a guest
room, set up an area for your visitors. If your couch folds out, decide
ahead of time whether it can stay open while your guests are here or
whether it should it be put away each morning. Again, this isn’t a
social visit, and house rules that ensure you will not be unduly
disturbed are to be established. (This goes for laundry rules and
entertainment etiquette as well.)
• If it’s just for a few days and your guests are young, ask them to sleep on the couch rather than the pull-out bed.
Anyone on the couch will probably be living out of a suitcase. Make
some room for items that need to be hung in your child’s closet, the
baby’s room, or your room. Ask your guest to enter these areas under
the circumstances you designate.
• You can
of course give a toddler’s room to your visitors and have your child
sleep in your room. It’s imperative that you explain to the child
what’s happening and why he is being asked to make this sacrifice. Ask
him to cooperate. No one likes to be kicked out of his room without
HELP YOUR PETS ADJUST
Consider your pets and decide how you’ll
incorporate them into your new life with a baby. Whether it’s getting
your dog used to being around babies, training your parrot not to
shriek during naptime, or just planning for who will take care of them
while you’re at the hospital, it’s a good idea to give your pets some
thought and plan now to keep stress to a minimum later. Ask your
friends with pets and children how they made the transition. Consult
with a trainer or animal communicator if you need outside help .
Andrea was very careful to include her pet pug in
her plans when she was pregnant. She left her baby’s first car seat on
the floor of the living room. Chewy, the pug, frequently slept in it.
When Andrea’s son Jonathan was born, she had her husband bring home
items from the hospital with Jon’s scent. The baby smelled Chewy in his
car seat and guess what? They have been devoted to each other since day
Studies show that babies who grow up around dogs
and cats usually have fewer allergies in adulthood than kids who don’t.
Dogs and cats provide an experience of unconditional love for the
child. They also give your child an opportunity to learn responsibility
through chores: fresh water, food, and walks are daily requirements.
Cats are solitary creatures by nature, but in
general they have an easier time adjusting to what they surely view as
an interloper. Dogs are pack animals; your dog wants to protect you and
your baby. He needs to be with you. If you’re considering tying him up
and leaving him in your yard for hours on end, think twice. You are
only creating a problem. Your dog is likely to become depressed and
destructive and start barking. If you feel overwhelmed, find someone to
As a last resort, relocate your dog or cat. Start your quest for a good home by consulting with your vet, family, and friends. Under no circumstances
should an animal who has been a part of your home and your life be
relegated to the pound and certain death. There are general rescue
groups and, if your pet is a pedigree, you’ll find rescue groups for
each of the major breeds. Fido and Fluffy were your first children.
Don’t neglect them during this time of transition.