What To Avoid
1. Avoid major changes
Having guests in our house for several nights was at times overwhelming for Livi. As a result, she got overstimulated easily. Anticipating this, we wanted to make sure that everything else remained the same so that she could feel safe and knew what to expect. We left her play area untouched, even though it is in the middle of our living room; and we made sure we stuck to her usual routine.
Tip: Try to keep your routine in place as much as possible and plan around it rather than changing what your baby is used to. If you normally change your sleeping arrangements for visitors, ask your guests to sleep on the sofa this time. If your baby sleeps in her own room, try not to use it as a temporary guest room, so that she can go to sleep where she always sleeps.
2. Avoid teaching new skills
A couple of weeks before our guests arrived, we were ready to start potty training. However, we knew it would be time consuming and we did not know exactly how long it would take us to teach her. So we decided not to start anything before our guests arrived. At best, our attempts would have been interrupted by the visit and at worst, they could have overwhelmed her even more, resulting in frustration and an even more difficult task ahead once our guests left.
Tip: Leave new skills for another time. If your baby gets frustrated because he is already overwhelmed, he might associate it with the new skill and it will be even harder to teach him.
3. Avoid long visits
Our first overnight visitors stayed for three days and four nights and it became clear rather fast that that was a lot to handle for Livi. Unfortunately, we did not really have any other choice (and had already shortened the visit) because our visitors live pretty far away. If I had had a choice in the matter, I would have started with only one night.
Tip: If at all possible, start with a one-night visit. This way, you can test the water and if it is still too much for your baby, you do not have to worry about how you will make it through the remaining days and nights.
4. Don’t push your child
It took Livi a while to warm up to our guests and initially, she always wanted to be held when someone new was in the room. She was not interested in playing or any other kind of interaction. We let her decide when she was ready for the next step and one of us was always by her side.
Tip: It is best not to force your child to do anything she does not want to do with your guests around. She needs to feel safe and be able to trust you so that she can handle this new situation.
What To Expect
Initially, Livi was scared of our guests. The first few times she crossed paths with our visitors, she cried and wanted to be held. This eventually turned into shyness and after a few days, she got over it for the most part.
2. Acting out
I was not prepared for this reaction. Whenever our guests had left for nap time, Livi would start acting out. She was clingy, would cry a lot, was hard to calm down, and occasionally would go wild and even be a little aggressive. At first, I was not sure what to make of it until I searched online. Apparently, after “holding it together” in front of our guests, she had to “let it all out” once she felt more comfortable. With some extra cuddles and lots of patience, we also cleared that hurdle.
3. Regression in behavior
Finally, I noticed for a few days after our guests had left, that Livi was acting more like a baby again. Some of the advancements we had made before our guests arrived suddenly seemed lost. She wanted to be held all the time, was waking up more at night, and cried more often. This lasted a short while and then she was back to her old self.