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.

All 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 shirt!

If you 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 handling laundry.

• 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 house rule.

• 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 being consulted.


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 one.

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 help you.

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.
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