A Guide To Having The Parents Crash With You Post Baby
Written by Hailey Andresen
Photography by PHOTOGRAPHED BY MODERN NEST PHOTOGRAPHY
New parents are becoming more and more open to accepting help from their parents and in-laws post baby, and who could blame them? With childcare costs rising, pressure for parents to return back to work, and the challenging adjustment period of welcoming a newborn, it feels natural to want some free, family help. Whether your parents or in-laws are planning to crash with you post baby for a week or a few months, we think it’s important to get really clear with yourself and your family before your bundle of joy makes their arrival on what everyones’ expectations are. Find our guide to having your parents (or in-laws) crash with you post baby below!
Set a timeline. First and foremost set a timeline with your partner, parents, or in-laws about how long they plan to stay. An open-ended, “I’m here as long as you need me,” might sound comforting when you’re in the midst of your third trimester and nervous about the early days of motherhood, but it’s important to get clear on both sides about how long this arrangement will go on. This way you’re preventing potential resentment both for yourself and the grandparents.
Have an honest conversation with your partner pre-arrival. Welcoming parents at such a transitional time can be tricky for any couple. Have an honest, judgement-free conversation with your partner about each of your fears, insecurities, and expectations about the arrangement. Get on the same page about what’s important for the two you handle as a couple and what you’d really love help with.
Have a conversation with your parents (or in-laws) pre-arrival. Relay the conversation you and your partner had and have a similar conversation with them. It’s important to remember that they’re doing this to help you, not the other way around. Respect their time, space, and expectations just as much as your own and make sure you have a grasp on what they’re hoping to accomplish by crashing with you.
Create some ground rules. Creating ground rules may seem extreme when it comes to family, but it’s honestly for the health of the household. If there are certain aspects you can foreshadow really loving the grandparents help with, (like cooking, laundry, or taking out the trash) make that known up front. On the flip side, if tackling tasks like bedtime is important for you to handle as a new mom (especially considering that they won’t be staying with you forever), don’t be afraid to be honest about that, too. It’s the perfect opportunity as a new parent to establish what you want the freedom to handle while simultaneously accepting help. Both are crucial lessons for new moms and dads.
Respect your parents (or in-laws) expectations. Knowing what your parents or in-laws are hoping to get out of the arrangement is so helpful. Maybe it’s their dream to take a walk with their grandchild every morning so you can shower in peace. Maybe they simply just want to wrap up their time knowing they were the biggest help possible to you and your spouse. Have the conversation, write their expectations down if needed, and do your best to remember why they want to be there!
Make them feel at home. A little hospitality goes a long way. If you don’t already have an idea, find out what their at-home must-haves are. For our in-laws, we always stock the fridge with sparkling water, wine, chips, and salsa—and we know the MIL cannot sleep without a fan, so we usually borrow one from our neighbor. It’s the little things like this that will make them feel at home and welcome in your space.
Be flexible & have patience. You can be the greatest planner in the world who has had every helpful conversation leading up to welcoming your newborn and opening your door to your parents or in-laws, but you will never be completely prepared. Have patience and try to be flexible if and when things do not go according to plan—those conversations you had leading up to to showtime will come in handy to refer to without hurting feelings. But also remember that all of your emotions will be at their peak (hello, new baby and hormones) and that there will come a point where each of you has to be understanding.
Focus on the good, gratitude-journal style. If you’re able to, either in your journal or the notes on your phone, write out three things you’re grateful for each morning—and make sure at least one of them includes the lovely person staying in your home helping you with your new baby. It can be so easy to get caught up in what isn’t working and how uncomfortable these changes feel, but if you remind yourself each morning how nice it is that you and your partner got to sleep in that morning, or that your bathroom was magically cleaned, or that your laundry is done, you’ll be doing everyone a favor.
Make time for QT with your partner. Regardless of who is staying in your space, it can definitely have an effect on the intimacy you experience with your partner. Be proactive about this issue before your parents or in-laws arrive and make a plan. Maybe each morning you plan to have coffee just the two of you, or depending on how long your expect company, make a plan for date nights and have a real discussion about how you will nurture your sex life with a long-term house guest. There are going to be a lot of new emotions during this time period and it’s important not to neglect your relationship!
Take advantage! Our guess is that whether your parents are coming to town for a week or a few months, it won’t last forever. Having them around is intended to make the transition smoother on you and to also give your family a chance to get to know your baby and bond with you and your spouse, so make sure you actually let that happen. Embrace the chaos of it all, accept the date nights and the help, and let the situation work for you or you will regret opening your door in the first place.
For more postpartum tips, check out these Postpartum Care Practices from Around the World, Best Postpartum Foods, and How to Navigate the Postpartum Shift.
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