Overnight Guests: How To Prepare

As a high need baby, Livi is very sensitive to stimulation and changes in her routine. While she does not really follow a predictable schedule, it seems to help her to know what will happen throughout the day.

She is also a light sleeper. We have to stop any (noisy) activities once she finally falls asleep.

Mainly for these reasons, we do not have many visitors at our house, especially overnight guests. We had both sets of grandparents stay for a few weeks after Livi was born as they all live pretty far away, but that was it.

Initially, we wanted to wait until Livi would sleep through the night before we invited anyone. But since that has not yet happened, we decided that now was as good a time as any to finally try it out.

Below are a few ideas that helped me prepare for the visit.

How To Prepare

1. Wait until the time is right
We waited until the toughest months had passed before we even considered having someone stay at our house. During the first 7-8 months of Livi’s life, we all struggled to make it through the day and the following months were not that much easier. It would have been unpleasant and too stressful for all of us, including any guests, had we had visitors back then. Once Livi turned one year old and started walking, things got a little easier for all of us.

Tip: It is hard to say no to family and friends who want to visit. But in the end you have to do what is best for your child and your own family. Decide when the time is right for YOU.

2. Plan ahead for difficult situations
Nap time is a big challenge in our house. Livi never falls asleep at the same time and I never know how long she will nap. Since she is a light sleeper, a house full of guests is not a good idea. We explained the situation and every day, my husband would take our visitors out for lunch and some sightseeing so that Livi could take her nap in peace.

Tip: Decide which parts of your baby’s day will be more difficult with guests around. Explain the situation and come up with a few solutions and suggestions for your guests. For example, is your baby easily distracted at dinner time? Arrange for an evening stroll for your guests or offer them to relax in the backyard.

3. Prepare your guests
Our guests were immediate family and aware of our situation. Yet, we still made sure they knew what to expect. Before Livi was born, we liked to sit and chat with our guests late into the night. Now, we need a very quiet house when we put her to bed, we try to avoid unnecessary noises once she is finally asleep, and after 9 pm there is not much going on anymore. We explained everything and offered different solutions. For example, we were not offended if they wanted to go out for dinner. Yet it was still difficult for them the first evening. Nobody expects the effort we have to put into everything.

Tip: If your guests are family or close friends, they are most likely already aware of your situation. But even then, it will be hard for them to imagine exactly what life is like with a high need baby. Explain everything before the visit and make sure they are willing to go along with it so you can avoid unnecessary conflict.

Continue to Overnight Guests: What To Avoid And Expect.

Flickr Photo by mikecogh

8 comments on “Overnight Guests: How To Prepare

  1. 4eyedblonde says:

    Hi there! I have a question for you…you say that your daughter does not follow a predictable schedule. I would have thought that for a high need babya schedule would be an absolute necessity. Can you tell me a little more about the reason behind that? Do her gears sort of work at a different pace? So that’s why naps are so difficult and a schedule doesn’t work? I know this isn’t the point of the post but it just got me to wonder’n…thanks for sharing!!

    • hnMom says:

      Thanks for asking, I’m always happy to talk about it. 🙂
      Maybe I should have made it clearer. We do have a routine for the whole day, i.e. getting up, breakfast, playtime, nap, lunch, etc., you get the idea.
      She just doesn’t follow a schedule time wise. For example, my friend tells me that her kid naps from 1-3. I could never tell you because sometimes Livi needs to sleep at 10 am and sometimes she won’t sleep until 2 pm. One day she sleeps for 30 minutes, the next for 2 hours. Same with feedings and eating.
      I never know when I will eat because I need to adjust as I go throughout the day.
      Basically, she is unpredictable and so is our day.

      • 4eyedblonde says:

        Thank you for sharing. I understand now…so a routine but no time schedule. Got ya. That must make things pretty hairy sometimes.
        The reason I asked is because my son was very sensitive to change (in regards to sleep). He would hardly sleep anywhere unfamiliar (i.e. hotel, another home). And we HAD to stay on a schedule or he would be a mess. Flexibility was next to impossible. And because of that, social events and family get-togethers were cut short or we had to make special arrangements for him. Our families each tolerated it, though I’m sure they thought we were making a mountain out of a mole hill. When we had guests over, which we could, I was made fun of for being the sound nazi, shhushing everyone, but if the baby woke it would be me that spent the rest of the night trying to get him back to sleep.
        Does your daughter sleep well at night? Does she go to bed at the same time each night or does that vary as well? And I still don’t understand why there is so much variance to her naps. Don’t babies have a rhythm that is generally the same? Hope I’m not being too intrusive, I’m just really curious. Again, thanks for sharing!

      • hnMom says:

        Not intrusive at all, ask away. 🙂
        She doesn’t sleep too well at night. We had a period where she would only wake once at night and that was really nice but then she woke up early, around 5am. Now she wakes twice at night but then sleeps a little longer in the morning.
        We do start our bedtime routine at the same time every evening. But it varies when she will actually fall asleep just like with the naps. Although the time frame is shorter. It can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 90 minutes before she will sleep. There have been odd days when it took longer.
        I am not sure why there is so much variance. All I’ve been told or I’ve been able to find out is that high need babies do not follow a schedule. Not for nursing, not for sleeping, not for anything.
        I bet keeping a strict schedule for your son wasn’t easy. Whereas you had no flexibility, we cannot make any plans. Keeping appointments is really hard. If we have a doctor’s appointment, we just have to do it, whether she had her nap or not, and then live with the consequences. We used to try different times for appointments to find out what works best, but every time she was on a different “schedule,’ so we finally gave up.
        In the beginning, this was really hard for me to accept, because I always prefer(ed) having a predictable schedule. I finally gave up worrying about it and trying to fix it, and just started to go with the flow. It seems to be working better this way but it was a huge learning curve for me.

  2. merelymothers says:

    That is so great that you have visitors who respect your wishes. My husband’s family rolls their eyes at any request I make that isn’t exactly what my husband’s sister does with her kids. Even if they don’t say it outloud, (which sometimes they do, but in a “funny” way, it is obvious they disapprove,) I know they are feeling that I am overprotective, or the baby is “playing me.” I get so annoyed. I’m so glad you have family who respect your baby’s unique needs. My son is not a high need baby, but he went through a period where he was a very light sleeper, so I understand how that is!
    – Sarahlynne

    • hnMom says:

      I’m sorry to hear that your husband’s family doesnt respect your wishes. How about your own family? It’s especially hard if someone else in the family already had children and you do things differently.
      For us, it actually took a lot of explaining and emails and back and forth and they still didn’t really understand it. But I also didn’t give them much choice to be honest. It was either you play by our rules or you can’t visit. Sounds harsh but I felt it was necessary. They were actually surprised to see how difficult it can be once they got here.

      • merelymothers says:

        that’s awesome. good for you for being honest and unapologetic! My family is extremely respectful. It causes a bit of drama occasionally between me and my husband, but that’s just the way it is, I guess. 😦

      • hnMom says:

        Yeah, every family is different and it never seems to fit perfectly. My husband and I have our own issues in that regard so I can imagine what you mean. I guess it’s true when they say that you not only marry your spouse you marry his family, too.

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