4 Tips To Surviving The Holidays With A New Baby
My first son was born at the end of November, by the time we got home from the hospital the first week of December was in our rearview. I was tired, sore, leaking from many areas and generally not in a good mood. My husband wanted normalcy, so we did our best for our baby's first Christmas. We got a tree, but never actually got around to decorating it beyond the lights. And I didn't really do any shopping, I tried but that was an epic disaster. And thankfully my parents were still hosting the dinner in those days. When it was all over, I barely remembered it and I just wanted to finally find a rhythm for our life. Here's what I wish I'd known going into that holiday season and all the others that followed.
Let Others Help
I was told after I got pregnant that I wasn't "that kind of person". What she meant was I wasn't a "motherly type", whatever that means. And when I gave birth, quite traumatically, I thought back to that comment and wanted to be the best mum I could be for my son. I strived to be "Super Mom". But it was exhausting and it didn't have to be. When people offered to help, I politely smiled and said no. We were good, I got this. But I didn't. In hindsight, if I'd accepted the help that was offered, without thinking that it meant I couldn't do it all I may have been able to enjoy the holidays and everything that went with them. Instead I was exhausted, angry and frustrated that it wasn't as easy as Hollywood made it seem.
Years later, I learned that asking for help was not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength in recognizing that we all have limits and when you reach that limit, you ask for help.
Take Breaks And Walk Away From The Action
When things begin to feel overwhelming for you and baby, don't hesitate to walk away. Go to a quiet space and relax. Let someone, your partner or a family member, know when you give a signal, you're stepping out. They can answer the questions "Where did Kim go?" "Where's the baby?" That way people won't go looking for you. Also, when you are at someone else's home, ask for a designated spot where you can go, feed baby and take a break when necessary. If you want to go alone, great. If you want to bring baby with you, great. No rules here. The key to all of this is stepping away and recharging. Remember, even entertainers get designated break times, and with a new baby you may feel like circus act, being on display with your baby. You are allowed a moment of peace, whatever that looks like for you.
Don't be afraid to set boundaries or limitations on peoples access to you and baby. With holidays and more people being off work, that gives people a greater ability to visit. And if you are good with that, fine. But sometimes too many visitors can be exhausting. Don't be afraid to say no, or pick a time that works for you, or reschedule if necessary. Also encourage people to bring things like food, or to help when they get there. The best visitor is one that brings a meal and cleans up before and afterwards, or folds laundry while you tell your birth story or gets you tea while you feed and rock baby. And you will let them do these things, remember the first point? "Let Others Help"
Don't Strive For Perfect
This point I actually was able to do. I was never one to stress about perfection, so when it came time for the holidays, I just did my best. Understanding the knowledge that "Baby won't remember any of this." was very helpful. Now I didn't raise my babies in the spotlight of social media. Because it didn't exist. Thank god. So I could definitely fake it til I made it. What I strived for instead was a happy baby, a loved baby, a well cared for baby. He didn't need a lot of fancy toys and he didn't care if he was dressed immaculately or that I was the picture of motherhood. What he cared about was being fed, held and loved. Oh and the occasional diaper change.
I know now a days so many of us try to display a picture of perfection on social media, or complete chaos. But behind the scenes all that is necessary is that you are going into this with love and your baby will be happy, as long as you are there. You're already special to them, you don't need to do anything else but just be.
I hope this was helpful. If you are looking for any more support over the holidays or any time, check out my Parent Mentoring Program. Don't keep Googling, ask me instead.