When your baby arrives there are two absolute certainties that will follow.
1. You will sleep less.
2. You will be having visitors – a lot!
People love to share in the joy of a new baby. It’s a wonderful time, we’ve welcomed a new life into the world.
Babies are like little magnets for most people. Everyone wants to coo over those tiny fingers and gush at their big eyes.
But us mums need all the help we can get at this time. We’ve just gone through the equivalent of running 10 marathons – scientific fact – so when visitors come knocking you can either be a help or a hindrance.
For too long new mums have had to handle an endless parade of visitors who gaze at the spectacle before them with no clue that they can be a vital resource at this tiring time.
So let’s introduce some terms and conditions for the baby visitors, they can still enjoy a cuddle with the new baby but they’ve got to earn it too.
Here are the terms, on behalf of mums everywhere, we want visitors to sign up to:
1. Babies are cute for a reason – don’t let them distract you
Human evolution is smart. Babies are vulnerable, but they’re also annoying with all that crying and mess, and they know it.
That’s why they’re so blooming hard to resist. They smell great, they make sweet little snuffling noises and even their dribble is adorable.
They need to be cute, so we protect them instead of eating them. I’m sure I read that in a textbook on evolution somewhere?
Anyway, the point is, yes the baby is cute but don’t forget about mum. She just slugged her way through a long labour, her hair is greasy and she’s got stitches where no one wants stitches.
Pay attention to the baby, please do. But give a bit of that fuss to mum too. Talk to her, give her a hug, ask her how she is. Don’t just focus on the baby.
2. Bring food – make it hearty, plus a bit of junk
We have just been through the biggest upheaval of our lives and as a result we are hungry but don’t have the energy to cook.
Please don’t turn up without some form of food. A lasagne, box of chocolates, bag of crisps, even a KitKat is better than nothing.
3. Don’t bring wine
If we’re breastfeeding or abstaining because we can’t cope with sleepless nights and a hangover, you’re just making us feel bad.
Save the wine for the baby’s first birthday, when we hope, good gosh do we hope, that the baby is sleeping through.
4. Offer to make the tea
This baby is demanding milk every hour. We don’t want to be pouring milk for you too! Please, offer to make the tea.
And, for that matter, wash up your cup before you leave.
5. Don’t stare disapprovingly at the pile of washing in the corner
We know the house looks like the laundry basket exploded and took the box of nappies with it.
There is stuff littering the house where it shouldn’t be. Dirty nappies forgotten on the floor, packs of wipes on top of the kettle (don’t ask) and there’s a funny smell coming from behind the sofa.
Don’t look at it. Pretend like there’s nothing to see here.
6. School your “how are you?” face
If you’re a mum, you will have seen this face. It comes with a kind phrase, but the face makes you feel like checking yourself in the mirror.
The “how are you?” question is accompanied by a subtle wince, a slight narrowing of the eyes. It’s subtle, but the meaning is clear:
“Oh my god, you look like you’ve been run over by a bus which then dragged you backwards through a hedge while people were hitting you with sticks! Jesus, you look awful!”
News flash! We know we look terrible, please don’t draw attention to it.
7. Timing is everything
Don’t overstay. You’re one of the first visitors, so we obviously love you a lot, but we need to rest and try to figure out what on earth to do with this little thing that feeds and poops around the clock.
It depends how soon after the birth you’re visiting, but as a rough guide anything within the first week should be no more than an hour. Don’t make us evict you!
8. Don’t turn up without an invitation
This one is the most important of all. We have a small baby who sleeps at random times and has us questioning our sanity.
To turn up without an invitation could potentially disturb our precious sleep or catch us dressed in mismatched pyjamas with hair that hasn’t been washed in a week. Not. Cool.
I hope you’ll agree these terms and conditions could make matters a lot more straightforward for all parties. You know what to expect and we know what to expect.
Now if only the baby would do the same.