Whether the very idea stresses you out (me), or you’ve been counting the days for months (not me), Christmas is coming! If you have a new baby, you might be pretty excited to share the holidays with your child and I’d bet you have family or friends who are looking forward to meeting your new bundle and showering him or her with gifts and love.
We can probably all agree that there can be some level of stress that comes with the holidays, and it just might be a lot higher with a new baby along for the ride. Let’s dig in and talk about some ways to make Christmas with a baby a whole lot easier.
1. Lower your expectations
Let me say that again. Lower your expectations. Done that? Okay, now lower them again. Don’t worry, it’s not forever but please take it easy on yourself when you’re doing Christmas with a new baby. Maybe that means buying something you’d normally make, or going home early when you’d usually stay late at an event. Maybe it means saying no to some invitations. This might be a year when the holidays look different than they usually do, and that’s okay.
2. Make your own traditions
Most of us have traditions around the holidays, some even dating back to our own childhoods. My husband and I have been married nine years and we still haven’t completely figured out how to blend all our family traditions without going totally overboard and eating six turkey dinners in two days. However, it didn't take us long after we started having babies to recognize that we wanted to have our own traditions within our family too.
For a few years we tried to see everyone and make every commitment and party. Now we say no to some, and re-arrange others. Luckily we have families who are very accommodating so sometimes we see family on the 26th or 27th. It’s less busy and it means we get to continue celebrating Christmas beyond just December 25th! We have also set aside Christmas morning for just our nuclear family (that is, myself, my husband and our kids) to go to church and to open gifts. This meant forgoing some old family traditions and creating new ones instead.
There can be a lot of emotions tied up in holiday traditions so remember to be compassionate with people who might have a hard time with changing up those old ways.
3. Create a wish list
This one’s not for everyone, I know. Personally I’m not always very creative when it comes to gift-giving, but I love to give gifts that are wanted, useful and not going to cause more clutter around anyone’s house. (You wouldn’t know it to walk into my own home but I spend a lot of my life trying to minimize clutter!)
I would rather give a gift from someone’s wish list than give something that will just sit around collecting dust. It’s also really great when my family receives gifts that are things we need or will definitely use. I try and have suggestion lists ready so that when family members ask what a certain kid wants for Christmas, I can give some ideas.
4. Try to keep yourself and your baby healthy!
Obviously everyone is going to have a better Christmas if they’re healthy. Large gatherings can be full of strange new germs your baby hasn’t met yet, and often people are so excited to meet or snuggle your new babe that they forget to wash their hands, or that they have a sniffle. What seems like a small cold to an adult can be pretty significant to a small baby so don’t be shy about asking people to wash before holding, or not to kiss the baby. Baby-wearing can be a good way to keep your baby close and keep other people away if needed. If you and your baby have a good nap or bedtime routine down, see what you can do to stick to it. Sleep is essential for happy grown-ups and happy babies!
5. Travel simply
Babies may be born in their birthday suits but they seem to acquire a whole lot of stuff pretty quickly. If you’re travelling over the holidays, it’s easy to want to bring everything along but it’s not worth it if it turns into you, your spouse, your baby and half your belongings crammed in to a single room at Auntie Mabel’s house. See what you can borrow or rent at your destination, do laundry while you’re there if you can, and consider if that fifth receiving blanket is really necessary.
Simplicity applies to more than just the stuff you bring. As an introvert, I love having a little baby because it gives me an excuse to go away to a quiet room for a while. “Baby needs to nap/eat/have his diaper changed, I’ll be back in a bit!” Even if you thrive on social gatherings, your baby may be more easily overstimulated than you are, so try to watch his or her cues and have some quiet time when needed.
I hope you and your babies all have a fun, happy and healthy holiday season!