Granny and your newborn: the rules


Every first-time mom feels scared and overwhelmed. You have to feed baby every 3 hours, which means you're mostly sleepwalking. Hormones are coursing through your body and emotions run high. You may have a tear or c-section wound and strong painkillers to deal with too.

Then there are the practical things. Is baby drinking enough? Do you really have to get right in there to clean the umbilical cord? Is the bath water too hot? There may be a sibling who is feeling left out. As well as the cooking, cleaning, a whole new bunch of laundry and stains, and the well-meaning friends and family who want to visit and all expect a cup of tea.

Many women ask their moms (or mom-in-law, aunts, sister) to come and stay for a week or two. This can be incredibly helpful, but also unexpectedly stressful if she doesn't know exactly what you need her to do.

What would you expect of grandma?

  1. How long do you want her to stay?
  2. Do you want her to cook?
  3. Do you want her to clean? If so, what exactly? Remember that now is not the time to go overboard with cleaning. Simple dishwashing, a sweep and laundry would do the trick for a while.
  4. Do you want her to screen visitors, and ask them politely to stay only for a short while, make tea and nudge them on their way again so you can sleep/feed/coo?
  5. Do you want her to pick up baby when she cries so you can sleep, or leave that to you?
  6. Do you want her to bath baby and do the nappies, or leave that to you?
  7. Do you want her to do grocery shopping?
  8. Do you want her to teach you what to do, or do you want to do things your own way?

How much your mother can help depends on what she's willing, and physically able, to do. She may not be able to drive but can help with cooking. Or she may be too sickly to do homework but can help to look after baby while you catch up on sleep. Or she may not be excellent with babies but she's great at taking charge of the visitors. Perhaps she's just great to have around for emotional support and you won't expect anything else from her.

Either way, it always helps when you're both clear on what your expectations. That way, your mom can help you best she can during this special time, and won't be offended when you ask her to help with something she wasn't prepared to do. And you won't be offended when she offers advice which you see as criticism!

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