After your partner gives birth, she’ll be crazy stoked that there isn’t anyone doing the stanky leg on her bladder anymore. But you know who’ll be just as stoked? Everyone. You need to shut that down right away.
Think of it this way: Your pad is King’s Landing. You’re facing the Battle of Blackwater. The visitors are Stannis Baratheon’s navy (because many are relatives, duh). Your partner is Peter Dinklage with some wildfire, but probably (hopefully?) prettier. And you are … Podrick. Sorry. (If you don’t know what any of this means, just trust that it’s an astounding and hilarious metaphor and move on.)
Not sure how to go about managing the advancing hordes? Check out these tips for before and after the kid arrives:
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Before The Push
You can actually start managing people’s expectations and building your boundaries well before the baby arrives. It’s just a matter of some open and frank conversation. So, start with how thrilling Falling Water is and move onto the Usonian houses. Or just talk about these things:
- Who is managing the in-laws? Many couples find that opening lines of communication to their own parents works best. Probably by landline.
- Find out when all related baby-pilgrims need to book their travel plans. Push them to either book on your kid’s delivery day, or to shoot for a date at least a couple weeks past the due date. Give yourself time to breathe between grandparents (because airing out the smell of hard candies and Bengay is essential).
- You might need a full-on team to help coordinate this stuff. If you want to lead the effort to make sure everything is being coordinated after delivery, fine. But you may want to just chill with the new family. Enlist a friend who can act as point person and gatekeeper, if necessary. Though not a Cryptkeeper, because dude’s jokes were worse than yours.
- The last week or so before the due date should be on lock-down for your and your partner. Things are going to kick off, so snuggle while the snuggling doesn’t smell like sour breast milk and turn into stress-naps.
So you’re on top of the ever-present elation of being a new dad and the panic that you have to keep this little thing alive. You’re also sleep deprived and emotional and the doorbell is ringing. Do these things:
- Screw Housekeeping: You can run a vacuum every once in awhile and maybe do a dish or two, but don’t worry if the place looks rough. Your visitors will understand. Also, they won’t give a shit unless you apologize for it. So don’t do that. And if they ask if they can help? Direct them to the laundry room and wish them good luck.
- Screw Personal Hygiene: Ever wanted to grow a beard? Welcome to paternity leave.
- Screw Being Nice: To other people, that is. You’re going to be emotional. People are going to be dumb. You might get angry. That’s okay!
- Screw Cooking: Ask people to bring you homemade food. They’ll be delighted and probably already thought of it. (And then remind them where the laundry room is)
- Screw Long Visits: Does your kid need to eat at 3:00 PM? Schedule a visit for 2:30pm and then tell the visitor you have a hard stop in 30 minutes to feed the kid. You’ve created a 30 minute visit without being pushy. Magic!
- Screw Being A Hero: Your new family is not a zoo exhibit. And this is the one time in your life when you can be 100-percent selfish. If things are getting too hectic, lock the gates.
A Note On Grandparents
You might think you grandma is only good for holding the kid for a bit while you and your wife try to weep silently in an empty bathtub. But she’s good for so much more!
Keep in mind that your folks might be a little over-zealous about the new arrival. Keep ‘em busy. But also cut them some slack. They haven’t done this for awhile and they’re getting the hang of grandparenting just like you’re getting the hang of parenting.
There can, and probably will be, friction. There probably was before the kid arrived and it’s not going to stop now. If there’s really any major issues, just talk. Let them know you’re figuring stuff out, and you need to find your own balance. But remember they also have experience to share. And hard candy. So much hard candy.
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