For Parents -
Well done you. You’ve had a baby in a pandemic. You’ve had a lockdown baby. You are awesome and your baby is so lucky it has you. I am proud and a bit in awe of you.
And you’re the parent. Sometimes, I still feel a bit shocked by the realisation.
As the parent, it’s your job to protect your baby and your home - physically and emotionally.
The only thing you need to focus on is this - Your baby comes first - not anyone else’s feelings or needs or wants. Not your in-laws, not your parents or your siblings, not your besties or your elderly neighbours who just want to pop in after they've been to chaddy.
So let's set about making sure we can make sure the next few weeks of reentry are as ok as they can be. It is ok to want to do all the things and see all the people, but it's also totally ok and natural to want to stay in your newborn lockdown cocoon.
The first step is to set some household boundaries or rules, so maybe in the next day or two - sit down and get really clear on what your rules or the non-negotiables are for your family and your home. I know you’re probably tired as all get out, but just take a few moments to be on the same page about these.
It's really important that the adults in your home act as a team on this - that you are on the same page and you can support each other if the external pressure grows.
A good next step is to get clear on who you really need and want to see and socialise with. Do a drawing of your true inner circle, or make a list of the true inner circle, who do you feel comfortable seeing? Is it just closest family and friends? Is it only people who are double vaxxed? In the early stages of lockdown being over - you can refer to this list and it can be like your “door bitch”. If someone is super keen to see you - do a gut check - If you have not seen this person for ages, wait even longer. You do not have to rush into seeing everyone all at once.
And you don’t have to rush in to doing all the things all at once.
If you find it hard to have these tough "door bitch" conversations, thats ok. It is confronting, but remember your baby is most important. If it is less overwhelming to communicate your wishes - have a template text or do a group text, a whatsapp or a social media post where you outline what your plans for your “reentry really are”. What are your rules around visitors? What are your rules around vax - this doesn't even mean a covid vax, this could be flu and whooping cough too. Do you want to avoid people until baby has had it's six weeks vax? Thats ok.
You can let people know that you really want to see them, just slowly and at your own pace.
If you do want to see people, when you see people - here are some things to do.
Before your catch up - it is ok to text visitors and double-check that they’re well and healthy. If they're not, you must reschedule.
Arrange to meet at an outside venue, a garden or a park.
If they’re coming to your home, make sure shoes are left at the door, and bags left there too. Don't let people put their bags or keys on the couch where you feed baby, or the bench where you prep things for baby. Keep stuff like this in the entrance. Nothing wrong with giving it a quick squirt of spray either!
Ask your visitors to follow your house rules- wash hands before touching baby and masks on when holding baby.
If you don't want people holding baby -don’t ket them.
Keep baby close in a baby carrier or safely in the pram. When we moved out of lockdown, seeing other people in crowded spaces and close up, hugging and touching freaked me out - imagine what it does for a newborn who has only seen hospital and home?
This is BIG time stimulation for all of us and it is important to be mindful of this too. Even in non-covid times, babies are often unsettled by too much stimulation in unfamiliar settings.
If you want to see your bestie, but not her four kids who are in school, you have every right to ask that it just be her who visits you.
If you can, avoid taking baby into shops, cafes, supermarkets - the benefit of staying home with another adult outweighs any thoughts around stimulation benefits for baby.
We get it - one of your besties or your sister has had her baby and you are FINALLY. ALLOWED. TO. VISIT. And it is big and massive and if you’re anything like me - you can not wait a second more to get your hands on the bebe. Also, if you’re like me you watched a lot of Schitts in lockdown.
If you're visiting new parents be really mindful that everything is new for them - everything, this little person has turned their world upside down and they’re surviving on dopamine and caffeine. Add in a pandemic and case numbers that sound super high -and it will be pretty common that new parents - and indeed pregnant people - to feel some significant anxiety.
First and foremost, this isn’t about you. Said in the most loving and caring way. For many of you - the thought of meeting this baby has got you through some tough moments, but it’s important to be mindful that baby needs to come first.
Here are some pointers to be the most helpful support ever!
It can be a juggle to work out how best to be helpful, so don’t wait to be asked to help or take charge. It is really, super important to follow the parent’s lead here on all the things but it is important to work really hard to read the room - whilst remembering the last thing a new parent wants is drama - don’t make them have to ask twice.
If you don't have anything nice/helpful to say, don't say it at all. New parents in WWII did indeed have it tough, but this is tough too. It's a different tough and comparisons is crap. If you didn't have your baby in a pandemic, it probs is not useful to say things like "Oh, when I had a newborn, I didn't worry too much about germs, it builds their immunity". “Oh, I had them out and about to parties as soon as I could” or “Oh, I couldn’t wait to leave the house, you must be going crazy stuck inside - go outside, it will make you feel better”.
Don’t grab the baby and don’t beg for cuddles. Follow the parent's lead - if they offer you baby, take the baby - if they don't, as much as it kills you - don't beg for a cuddle or just pick baby up.
Don’t kiss the baby. I love a baby smooch as much (if not more) than anyone, but even in non-covid time, it’s important not to be kissing baby willy nilly. In fact, not at all. Kissing a baby these days is sadly passe, and it’s because we spread so many germs through smooches that a baby’s new immune system just can’t cope with. Just think cold sore, let alone COIVID.
Do not accept an offer for the new parents to make you a cup of tea, do not sit on the couch and be all guest like - take charge - make a tea of coffee, and better still bring a big tray of takeaway coffee. Size large, please.
Do text before you arrive, to check that all is on track for a visit and when you get there stay for a good time, not a long time.
Do not be offended if when you check-in, the new parent tells you that it isn’t a good time for a visit. There could be poo storms, there could be meltdowns (adult ones, not newborn ones). Please be respectful about how hard it is to say no, so they must really mean that a visit right now isn't right for them.
Do bring some supplies with you - basics, milk, bread, cake, pasta. In normal situations this is thoughtful, in our new normal this is thoughtful and practical and safe. This may really help with anxiety levels about making an extra trip out.
Do not visit if you have any sort of illness, stay away. Even if you feel a bit headachy, or a tiny cough-y. Now is not the time to visit a new baby.
Do work out who really needs to visit. Is it just you visiting baby, do you have to bring your kids? Or can they be at home with someone else whilst you visit?
Everyone loves company and help with a newborn, but this “new normal” isn’t normal - so let’s be super kind and supportive. Let's take it gently.
with love xo
Image by my dear friend Naomi Woodley, of perfect roses blooming in this Melbourne spring. I thought these were the perfect image for this "reentry" post on the eve of Melbourne's spring. x