Is this baby’s first holiday season? Maybe you’ve picked out the perfect ornament for the tree and a few cute outfits for all the parties.
Maybe you’re looking forward to showing off your baby and sharing them with family and friends and cannot wait for all the festivities!
Or, maybe you want to crawl in bed until it’s all over.
Likely, most of us are somewhere in between.
This can be an incredibly hectic time of year for people, fraught with expectations of your time, energy, and money and with a new baby at home you may feel all three of those are in short supply!
Here are some tips on getting through the holiday season alive and with your sanity and relationships in tact:
Do what works for you: some babies have rigid schedules and some parents want to keep them. If what your family is asking doesn’t work for you – suggest an alternative. A few examples of what we’ve done with our family:
- Have brunch instead of an evening meal so you can be home before bedtime
- Host people at your house instead of going somewhere so you control the timing and keep your kids in their own comfortable environment
Saying NO is ok. I know this is easier said than done. Everyone means well and just wants to share in your joy but this can be overwhelming. It’s ok to not do EVERYTHING. If it’s causing you additional stress and anxiety, say no! Ultimately, your family will understand (eventually).
You don’t have to let anyone touch your baby. That’s right, not even great aunt Millie who drove 4 hours just to meet your little bundle of joy. Your baby – your rules. I always brought a baby carrier with me to family events. It was great to help soothe her and keep my hands free but it also protected her from unwanted kisses (and germs) and having too many people get up in her space. Now that my kids are a bit older the same still applies – they do not have to hug anyone. Ever. Their body – their rules!
Take a break when you need to. Even a few minutes alone in a room with your baby can help recharge you. If you’re nursing, this can be a good excuse to get away. You can also explain that the baby isn’t used to this many people around and needs some space for a few minutes.
Take time for you. Perhaps your partner is home a bit more now this time of year. Take advantage of this by taking some more time for yourself – do the things you need to do to feel good and well. I’m thinking – yoga and a festive manicure?
Create your own traditions. Man are holiday’s full of family baggage – ‘the way we always do things’. It can be hard to fit your new family into your old way of doing things. Maybe now is the time to embrace new traditions for your own family. For example – my family was big on cutting down a Christmas tree from the bush. Well, our little family of 4 doesn’t have a lot of time and I would rather spend my energy somewhere else. Instead, we get one from the local hardware store and spend the extra time going for night walks around our neighbourhood looking at the lights.
Check in with your mental health. The days are dark. Holiday’s are expensive. Maybe you’re grieving for someone. All of this can exacerbate feelings of depression and anxiety. It’s very important to check in with how you’re feeling and take steps to support your mental health if you need to.
Similarly, be mindful of your drug and alcohol usage. While these substances trick us into temporarily feeling better or forgetting they are ultimately not a solution.
Do less. What does your baby need for Christmas? Likely – absolutely nothing. They also probably won’t get much from the whole unwrapping presents thing. It’s totally ok to buy smaller gifts or necessities for them. My kids got bibs, towels, plates, and sippy cups for their first Christmases. We are the ones who put these grand expectations on what gift giving and holidays ‘should’ look like.
I read somewhere that holiday magic is made by moms. Do I ever believe this. At times it can feel overwhelming and exhausting. My advice to you is to be kind to yourself and be gentle with others. We’re all trying our best to make it work.
Remember, the newborn stage is temporary and so too is the holiday season. Every year will look different and it will get easier with time. Try to look for the simple moments of joy through your kids eyes. I promise you’ll find it there.