How To Politely Decline Postpartum Visits Without Destroying Relationships
One thing that surprises new parents is the large number of visitor requests that come rolling in immediately after they welcome a new baby. While it can be extremely heartwarming that so many want to share in the joy of your newest addition, it can also be extremely overwhelming. Not only are you physically recovering from delivery, but you’re also learning to care for a brand new human — one who probably isn’t sleeping very well at night.
What many don’t take into account about postpartum visits is that, despite being sleep deprived, many new parents still feel immense pressure to be good hosts and hostesses. They want to welcome guests into a tidy home. They want to offer beverages and refreshments. They want to look presentable. They want to appear jovial and inviting when deep down inside they’re emotionally drained, exhausted, frustrated, afraid, and maybe even depressed. Now multiply those feelings by five, 10, 15, or however many people are waiting in line to visit. It’s all extremely taxing.
Postpartum visits often become a major source of stress for many new parents because they don’t believe that they can say no without offending. However, the truth is you can. Most reasonable people understand the pressure new parents are under — and the folks who can’t understand, you probably don’t want around during that time anyway. Here are our tips for politely declining postpartum visits without damaging relationships.
Tell them early
If you’re anything like me, when there’s an uncomfortable conversation to be had, I put it off for as long as humanly possible. When it comes to postpartum visits, you’ll want to avoid doing this for a few reasons. For one, it makes you look flaky when you wait until the last minute. You want to be respectful of your loved ones’ time and their plans. You don’t want them canceling appointments and turning down invitations in order to come to visit you only for you to shut them down the day of. There are some people who will unreasonably be in their feelings regardless of when you tell them, so don’t give those people a leg to stand on by waiting too long to tell them that you won’t be having visitors.
Be forthright with your reason
Don’t lie or beat around the bush. You are well within your right to desire privacy, rest, and a quiet home after giving birth. You don’t have to make excuses or apologize. People can smell a lie from a mile away, so just be upfront about things. Say, “Hey, we really appreciate you taking time to come and see us but right now isn’t a good time because of x,y,z.” The reasonable people in your life will understand and the not so reasonable people will do what they do. However, with a brand new baby on your hands, I’m not sure that you have the energy for those personality types right now anyway.
If possible, tell them by phone – not text
It’s so easy for your intended message to get lost in translation. It can be difficult to decipher tone and intent through writing at times. Since this is such a delicate subject, you’ll want to make sure that you speak to your loved one in real time so that there is no room for misconceptions to fester. After all, if someone is going out of their way to make plans to visit your family, the least you can do is pick up the phone.
Have someone who will speak up on your behalf
If you’re blessed enough to have a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle who is willing to act as a spokesperson for your family, definitely take advantage. For me, this person was my mom. When the number of loved ones wanting to visit got to a point where it was unmanageable, she politely informed everyone that our family was exhausted and that slowed the flow of visits for a while. Everyone seemed to understand and no one felt offended.
Let them know when they’re welcome to visit
More than likely, you’re not banning people from coming to visit you forever, just until you’re in a better position to have folks over. If you have a specific idea of when they will be, let your loved ones know. If you have a more general idea, that’s okay as well. Letting your loved ones know that they’re definitely welcome — just not right this second — is sure to soften the blow.