Becoming a parent is exciting, and everyone is excited for you, too. Friends and family want to congratulate you, meet your little bundle of joy and share in your happiness. That means visitors – lots of them! Well-meaning friends and family traipsing through your home, interrupting feedings and nap time, all while you’re trying to recover from childbirth. Becoming a parent is overwhelming, but all those visitors don’t have to be, if you follow these tips.

Newborn and Grandparents

Photo: Naomi via Flickr

1. Make Your Own Rules

It’s your baby; it’s your rules. During your third trimester, decide how you’d like to deal with visitors. You may want frequent visits from your mom to help with the transition, but you don’t have to invite in the parade. Don’t be afraid to take a week or month to get to know your little one without entertaining. Send an email announcement when you get home with all the vitals and a not-so-subtle hint about when it would be okay to visit. Say something like, “Baby would love to meet you in a few weeks once everyone is settled.” Then send a follow-up email once you’re ready to play host.

2. Phone it in

Another way to avoid unexpected (ahem—unwanted) visitors is to make a special voicemail for home and cell phones. Tell those inquirers that the new family is doing well and you’ll be getting back to them when you’re ready for visitors. That puts you in charge of setting up a time that works for you and baby. Same goes for email. Have an automatic reply with a similar sentiment.

3. Set up Limits

Well-wishers—especially those who don’t have kids—don’t necessarily know or remember how exhausting having a newborn is. Limit the number of visitors you invite over in a day, and let them know how long you’d like them to stay, probably no more than an hour or two. That way even if you are surprised by a pop-in guest, it won’t totally overwhelm you.

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Photo: Jenny Lee Silver via Flickr

4. Have an Exit Strategy

Even with limits, visitors can overstay their welcome. When the newly minted great-aunt just won’t take the hint and leave, having an exit strategy can be a lifesaver. Feel free to tell them it’s feeding time and that you both nap afterward. Take baby to the nursery, close the door, and let them see themselves out. Don’t want to come off as the bad guy? Have your significant other play bad cop by stepping in and ushering visitors out the door for you.

5. Don’t go it Alone

Speaking of significant others, it’s nice to have another person around while visitors are there, someone you don’t mind being around for the tricky moments. In case things do go wrong, say there’s a blow-out diaper or baby is particularly cranky, you can take care of business while your stand-in can take care of guests.

6. Mandatory Handwashing

Newborns require extra caution when it comes to germs. As soon as guests enter the house, let them know they have to wash their hands, whether or not they disinfected two minutes before they came in. Tell them it’s doctor’s orders if they need persuading. Also let visitors know that if they have any cold symptoms, holding baby is off limits. Your allergy-prone nephew might be disappointed, but Baby’s health is far more important.

Newborn in Bassinet

Photo: Ryan Boren via Flickr

7. Never Wake a Sleeping Baby

Newborns sleep a lot, and they do it without regard to visitors’ schedules. If baby is slumbering the entire time your best friend is there, let the little one sleep. Apologize to your friend that she won’t get to hold baby and smell that new baby scent this time around. Hey, at least the two of you had some time to catch up.

8. Contain the Mess

It’s almost impossible to keep a clean house and take care of a newborn. You shouldn’t be worrying about the dishes in the sink or the dirty laundry (and no one is expecting your house to be sparkly clean), but it’s hard not to stress. Create a visitor zone – one or two rooms in your house that you keep as clean as possible and that are easy to pick up in a few minutes. Keep guests in that area and close all the other doors.

9. Forget Perfection

Just like no one is expecting a perfect home, no one expects you to look perfect. Honestly, everyone is there to see the baby anyway. One good way to feel presentable for visitors is to set aside one comfortable but cute outfit. Throw it on before family and friends show up and take it off when they leave. That way it’ll be clean and ready to go for the next batch of visitors.

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Photo: tiarescott via Flickr

10. Accept Offers of Help

Conscientious visitors will often ask if they can help. Always say yes! If they offer food, take it or ask them to pick up your favorite coffee or fast-food order on the way over. If they offer to help around the house, put them to work. Keep a list of chores that need to be done in a visible place. That way you can just point to it and they can decide what they want to do. And if you really need a gallon of milk or bread – or for them to hold the baby for five minutes while you have your first shower in two days – don’t wait for an offer, just ask. More likely than not, you’ll find your friends and family are more than willing to help.

11. Make a Gift List

In addition to keeping a chore list handy, it’s good to have a gift list handy. Visitors are going to bring gifts for baby, even if they already gave you something at your baby shower. A gift list will help you keep track of who gave what so you can personalize thank you notes (when you have the time to finally send them out). Unlike the chore list, though, you might want to keep this one in a private place. No one needs to know what other people shelled out for you and baby.

12. Ditch the Plan

The best-laid plans can easily go awry when you’re adjusting to life with a newborn. Picture this: you’ve got a screaming baby and a wreck of a house, you haven’t slept more than two hours at a stretch, and your in-laws are supposed be over in half-an-hour. Call them and reschedule. Most people will understand, and if they don’t, that’s not the kind of visitor you need when things are at their worst.

Try not to stress about visitors. Do what you have to do for you and your baby, and do your best with everyone else. The fact is having a newborn is one time in your life where your friends and family will give you a pass for pretty much anything, so take advantage of that if you have to.

What’s your visitor pet peeve? Dish in a Comment.

–Katie L. Carroll