Around this time of year, every year, I brace myself. A marathon of activity kicks off in our household. Over December and January we celebrate my partner’s birthday, Hannukah, Christmas, New Year’s, and my daughter’s birthday. Our wallets and senses of self preservation are audibly cringing.
Over the years, I’ve picked up a few tips to minimize the stress of celebrating the holidays with your new baby.
People love your baby. The size of your village may vary, but it’s almost always present. Maybe your network consists mostly of friends. Maybe you have a small, tight knit family. Maybe you have an expansive, involved, extended family. Someone out there will want to help. Let them.
It’s awkward, accepting help. I’ve found leaning on those close to me not only relieves the financial and emotional strain of the holidays, but also brings a lot of joy to those able to help. When you’re asked what you’d like for Christmas this year, suggest well wishers drop off reheatable meals. Request the gift of babysitting. Fundraise for a postpartum doula. Don’t be afraid to be honest about your needs.
It doesn’t end with your needs. I don’t know about you, but we’d never be able to shoulder the financial burden of four gift giving events in one month alone. Before shopping for your child, make a mental note of who else will be shopping. My daughter’s birthday is a little less costly when we factor in gifts from friends and family. A few Christmas presents can be purchased by grandma. Zaida is happy to send hannukah gelt our way. Let your village contribute.
You just had a baby. You’re sore, and physically recovering. You’re probably running on not much sleep, and may be feeling a little overwhelmed. The last thing you want is to squeeze yourself into a dress for the office holiday party and prepare a six course Christmas dinner. It’s tempting to isolate yourself.
If you can, get out there. The idea of attending events postpartum is almost always worse than the act of attending the event itself. Often taking a moment for self care will go a long way towards improving your emotional and physical well-being. Take that shower, get dressed up, socialize. You might show up with a newborn strapped to your chest, but the opportunity to get out of the house and talk to adults will feel amazing.
Put yourself first
That being said, it’s okay to say no. I know I struggled a lot with this. I felt like a major, flaky disappointment, constantly cancelling plans. You are not the first person to have a new baby, and you won’t be the last. People do understand. It’s okay to cancel if you’re having a rough day. It’s okay to be frustrated if your baby comes down with a bug, causing you to cancel your big holiday plans. You’re human, and life happens. Your village will understand. And if they don’t, well, who needs negativity over the holidays anyways?
Introduce your child to family traditions
If you gave birth shortly before the holidays, you may have envisioned magical holiday moments with your child. Carefully gift wrapping adorable toys. Watching their eyes light up when they first see the decorations you put up around your home. Then the big day arrives, and your baby has absolutely zero understanding or interest in the spirit of the holidays. It’s a little disappointing!
Share the traditions anyways. Your baby may not be interested, or understand, but you will. Incorporating your baby into your typical family traditions is a wonderful way of welcoming them aboard. You’re setting the foundation by which all subsequent holidays will follow. Sing those Christmas carols when you rock your baby to sleep. Hold them while you light the Hannukiah. Help them open a gift.
The holidays with a new baby can be stressful. They can be exhausting and overwhelming and entirely too much to deal with. But you might just find they’ll also provide memories to last a lifetime.