Planning Pays Off, part 2 - Managing the Door

Welcome to another week of Planning Pays Off! If you are just joining, you'll want to head over here first for Part 1. It'll give you the basic rundown on what the Fourth Trimester is and why it's important to have a postpartum plan.

If you've already taken a look at the handy info sheet from Part 1, you've seen that my first tip for having a postpartum plan is to disable the doorbell. Managing guests is perhaps the trickiest part, socially speaking, of any postpartum plan. Maybe you're excited and proud to show off your little one, or maybe you've got friends and family members who just can't wait to meet your new little person. In either case, having a plan for who visits (and when) will help you keep your sanity.

Mother holding baby, smiling out through a window

If you can, arrange your visiting schedule so that you are actually looking forward to guests' company. Give yourself a few days after birth to figure out what time of day you feel most rested and relaxed. In your pre-baby days, evenings may have been a great entertaining time. It might not be that way now, and that's okay. You need to do what works for your and your immediate family.

I have to warn you though, this can get tricky. It's possible that someone at some time will end up with slightly hurt feelings. I find the best way to avoid this is to be upfront with folks. Be honest with your extended family and friends. If you're keeping a quiet profile, let folks know you’ll be ready for more company once you land on more solid ground. Reassure your potential visitors that there will be plenty of chances to visit with your baby (and besides, if they can wait a bit, babies get more and more interactive as months go by. Newborns can’t really do much in the way of entertaining!). Most visitors will respect your request.

This can also get tricky with your partner. You’ll need to have an honest and open discussion about who is invited to visit during your first days home. If, for example, certain family members cause you a lot of stress, have an honest conversation with your partner. You'll have to come to some sort of compromise on how to deal with these folks. Maybe they come after the first week and only stay for a short period of time. Trust me, you'll want to have this conversation *before* it becomes an issue.

A tip to partners - an excellent way to be really helpful during these first few weeks is to fully embrace the role of gatekeeper. If you handle the scheduling, entertaining, feeding and then super polite dismissal of guests, you'll take a big load of stress off of the birthing parent.

You can find a more thorough worksheet here. It'll help you walk through the process of identifying which of your visitors is a helper, a partier, or a restricted guest. After mapping out which kinds of visitors you'll have, it'll be much easier to schedule when they all visit. And it'll help you keep your home as a sanctuary - just the kind of place you and your new baby need to rest, recover and bond.

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