ETQ

Babies at Home

A new situation

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How to minimize the amount of baby-related fuss you generate.

The honeymoon period is over. Friends and relations have stopped cooing and showering you with gifts, normal life has (more or less) resumed, except for the incontrovertible fact that you now have a baby.

Don't be a birth bore. Graphic tales of epic labours, pain endured, obstetric interventions etc. may seem riveting to you, but will turn off your audience.

Don't be a baby bore. New babies don't actually do very much, and most people will find tales of bowel movements, burping and breastfeeding deeply tedious. Keep your obsession with your newborn strictly to yourself.

Minimise the amount of baby-related fuss you generate around your friends. If you're attempting to enjoy an adult evening with (non-parent) friends, don't make a big song and dance about cots, prams, feeding times, changing mats and all the other paraphernalia. If you can't leave the house without a nursery-load of equipment, don't expect too many invitations.

When you do agree to socialise, give it - as far as possible - your full attention. Nobody would expect you to ignore the needs of your baby (crying, grizzling, fidgeting etc.), but listening to people with a glazed expression, and interrupting them to point out your baby's latest earth-shattering achievement (a smile, a burp, a gurgle) is not going to make you universally popular.

If you can't stay the course, refuse the invitation. Dozing at the dinner table, unable to engage with the conversation because you've been up since 5am isn't going to win you friends. Be realistic about what you can take on, and suspend your social life until you have enough energy for it.

Don't subject your friends to a photo-bombardment campaign. Your friends will soon get fed up if you subject them to endless photo-messaging and email attachments. Similarly, don't overwhelm Facebook with compulsive status updates and albums. You just have to face the fact that minute-by-minute new flashes on the minutiae of your baby's life will only fascinate its doting parents.

Remember that baby photos are only interesting for under one minute. Never show off video footage to anyone but members of the tightest family circle. The precise timing of all the usual baby milestones is something that only you and your health professional actively need to know.

Nobody expects a thank you letter for gifts in the immediate aftermath of the birth, but don't let this slip. If you can't manage to write thank you letters to everyone within a few weeks of the birth, at least send a card with a brief personal message or an email.

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