The first holiday season spent with your little one can be equal parts exciting and overwhelming. Fueled by a desire to be a good mom, partner, and friend, you're likely gift shopping, decorating, doing house chores, while taking care of your little one.
We're here to say: Mama, let’s set realistic expectations! Don’t burn yourself out. You deserve a cozy holiday as well. Here are 10 tips to help you navigate your first holiday season with your little one while keeping your well-being in mind.
1. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries.
Your family and friends, swept in tremendous joy, will be eager to spend time with you when your baby arrives. Before you accept, remember that you are recovering from childbirth and transitioning into motherhood. You have to take care of your mind and body and your baby's as well. Especially, as your baby is vulnerable to illnesses with an immature immune system. You must set boundaries to protect your baby and yourself. Things to consider include:
- Checking in with yourself - Do you feel comfortable having visitors at home? At what time will you be available?
- When you have visitors, what rules will you set for them? Some rules may include handwashingbefore holding the baby, refraining from kissing the baby or asking people to delay their visit if they feel unwell or have any sign of illness.
- Prioritize your baby’s needs. When your baby gets tired and needs a nap or feed,do not feel forced to continue socializing. Put them to sleep and/or breastfeed without apology. In Momcozy's "Breastfeeding During the Holidays" webinar, Dr. Colette Wiseman (MD, IBCLC) offers great advice for breastfeeding with confidence. "Do not ask permission to breastfeed and do what feels comfortable for you! If you'd like to share you'll be breastfeeding, you can ask someone to take over a task and say 'I'm going to be feeding the baby now' or simply say, 'I'm going to grab a seat. I'll be feeding the baby for the next 20 minutes."
- There are many ways tocommunicate your boundaries. You can send a text, email, or address them when relevant. Pick whatever method you feel comfortable with.
2. Wear a carrier to prevent your baby from being passed around.
When you get together with friends and family, they'll be so eager to get hold of your new baby that they may grab them from your arms before you feel ready. This can easily expose your little one to viruses and germs. Wearing a carrier is a soft way of saying “no” if you don’t want this to happen. Meanwhile, babywearing sets your hands free, so you can enjoy relaxed family time while keeping a close eye on and bonding with your baby.
3. Be reasonable with your baby’s schedule.
It’s very likely that you'll struggle to stick to your baby’s regular schedule (such as sleep) during the holiday. Don’t panic. Do the best you can with naps, and remember, it is all temporary and your baby will adjust back.
4. Pack a well-stocked diaper bag for your road trip.
When packing a diaper bag, essentials are your best friend. Ensure you have an ample supply of diapers, wipes, and changing pads to handle any unexpected messes. Pack a change of clothes for your little one, considering potential weather changes and blowouts.
Tuck in a blanket for comfort and an emergency first aid kit. A pacifier and a favorite toy can provide soothing moments. Keep your diaper bag organized with pockets and pouches for quick access. With a well-prepared bag, your road trip will be made so much easier.
5. Create safe and serene spaces when you're away from home.
When you're away from home, creating serene spots for your baby is essential. Whether it’s a cozy nook, babyproofed hallway, unused office, or guest bedroom, cozy up in a quiet corner with a blanket or portable crib so your little one can nap and play relatively undisturbed. This action makes a big difference in keeping your baby comfortable during the festive holiday buzz as they can become easily overwhelmed and overstimulated.
6. Take up simple traditions.
Taking care of your little one is exhausting. Between the sleep deprivation and learning curve, it's okay to make some changes to your annual traditions. Keeping traditions simple is the key to a cozy holiday. Here are some ideas:
- Curate a list of your favorite songs and have a mini dance party.
- Watch a great movie together and have a cozy movie night.
- Decorate a small Christmas tree.
- Wear Christmas-themed pajamas and snap some photos!
- Bake Christmas cookies.You can easily get the cookies in a roll and add frosting and some sprinkles to make it easier on yourself.
- Go see local Christmas lights.
7. Share responsibilities.
Remember you are not alone. Sharing the load is key to making the season more manageable and enjoyable for everyone involved. Do not hesitate to ask your family and friends to bring you food, cook for you, run errands, or help with dish washing and laundry. They likely want to help but may not know how. Teamwork is the secret ingredient that turns holiday chaos into shared moments of joy.
8. Cook or order in - either is fine.
Depending on your preference, the kitchen can be a place of joy or stress during the holidays. Whether you find delight in preparing a festive feast from scratch or prefer the convenience of ordering meals, both options are equally valid. Choose what aligns with your comfort.
9. Video call your family and friends.
You may feel guilty for opting out of holiday gatherings to spend quality time at home with your baby. Don't! Remember, you can exchange holiday cheer via video calls. Thanks to digital capabilities, you can introduce them to your new bundle of joy, give them a decorated house tour, share what you've cooked (or ordered), and give them your biggest smile! This will help with any disappointment or sadness of not seeing you in person.
10. Embrace imperfect moments.
Amidst the twinkling lights and festive cheer, it’s easy to want a dreamy, perfect holiday with your loved ones. But with a new baby, you have a lot on your hands and things will simply not go as planned. The cookies may be imperfectly shaped. Your baby may be fussy and cry through your thoughtfully-planned cozy movie night. You may only be ordering in food for dinner. It's okay. Release yourself from expectation and don't let the unexpected dim your day! Cherish each moment you spend with your little one.
Most importantly, put you and your baby first, always.
Whether at home or visiting family and friends, please put you and your baby first. Saying “no” may result in hurt feelings, but you have a new human to care for and you're experiencing a special time with your baby. The most important thing is your well-being and comfort as you are the best present of all to your little one.
Relax, enjoy, and have a very cozy holiday.