When Too Much Help Just Isn't Helpful
Having your first child is amazing and can sometimes be overwhelming all at the same time. I was overjoyed when my son was born and was inundated with well-wishers, neighbours, friends, my husband’s aunties, cousins and great aunties (and some of their friends too!)
At first it was lovely that everyone and their auntie wanted to welcome my baby into the world and give me advice on how to be a mom, but after a few weeks it became too much. I found myself with very little time to do what every new mom needs to do: And that’s to get to know your baby on a one to one.
We all need to adjust to our new lives. Sorting out sleep routines and settling into breast feeding is quite a task; but can be made a lot more difficult if the doorbell never stops ringing, and you suddenly find yourself making cups of tea and chatting to people who you don’t really know that well. This can be especially difficult if you’re breast feeding and don’t feel totally comfortable chatting to great uncle John (who you’ve never actually met before) with your top open.
Then, before you know it, your baby is being taken out of your arms and passed from one person to another. You’re being told to sit down and relax while they hold your baby and talk about what you should and should not be doing. Everyone wants to help and don’t get me wrong, their intentions are good - but what if you don’t want someone else lifting your baby or feeding him for you? What if you’ve just started to get into a routine and great auntie Mary decides your baby should be woken every two hours for a feed? Or when your mother-in-law wants to take your perfectly happy and content baby out in the pram to introduce him to her neighbours and leave you with some “time to yourself”?
When is too much help just not helpful? There comes a point when you have to take control. It’s your baby and it’s your life! Yes, we all need support when having a new baby and everyone appreciates the help that is offered but we also need to figure things out ourselves and get used to life with our tiny little human. There’s nothing wrong with having a pyjama day and who cares if the dishes aren’t done until later as long as your baby is fed and happy? Everyone wants to tell you what to do but sometimes your baby needs to actually pee on you a couple of times before you learn to put a nappy over their parts as soon as you go to change them!
When too much help isn’t helping, it’s time to be assertive in the nicest possible way. For me, that was to take the battery out of the doorbell. I found that when people wanted to come and see the baby, they called first and I would then arrange with them a convenient time for them to visit. From then on, everything became a bit more manageable, on my time. That was until the one person who wanted to visit me and the baby every day, whenever she liked, decided to tell my husband that I was possibly suffering post-natal depression because I wanted some time alone!
I spoke to the local nurse about this and she assured me that there was nothing wrong with having a bit of alone time with my baby. In fact, it’s a perfectly healthy thing for both mother and baby. Another thing that helped me was to enlist the support of my husband, it’s not easy dealing with relatives and you need back up around this sensitive area – especially where mother-in-laws are concerned!
It’s all about letting them know they are appreciated and an important part of their precious grandchild’s life. I found a little bit of “divert and distract” always helped. When your mother-in-law wants to take over you and your baby’s life and routine, get in quick and change the subject, tell her how lovely that outfit was that she bought your child, ask her some question about what her son was like as a baby. This should keep her talking about her own experiences for a while instead of telling you how you should be dealing with your baby. It is wonderful that everyone is so enchanted by your new baby but remember you are the mom and this is your life.
Just enjoy it, and take control; because being a parent is a long journey and one day you could be a mother-in-law too – so take note!