How to Juggle New Parenthood and the Holidays
Children are tiny newborns once in a lifetime, but Christmas comes around every year, so focus on your baby and let some of your holiday traditions fall to the wayside if need be. For instance, don’t waste countless hours writing, stuffing, stamping, and mailing holiday cards. Instead, combine your Christmas cards and birth announcements into a single photo card with a pre-printed message like, “Look what Santa brought us!” on the front. Everyone who receives one (even if it doesn’t arrive until Valentines Day!), will be delighted.
Online photo sharing companies like Smugmug and Kodak Gallery offer you the option of creating a custom picture card, uploading your address list, and allowing them to mail all of your holiday cards out for you!
Although its tempting to run out and get the standard “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments, a monogrammed stocking, and a pile of over-hyped toys that will “stimulate your newborn’s brain and enhance his reflexes,” realize that your baby has no clue what the holiday means and is just happy to snuggle quietly with you. So don’t overdo it for his sake. Your relatives will inundate you with baby ornaments, and there is nothing your parents or in-laws would love more than to have a stocking made for their new grandbaby, so let them. (If you don’t like it, you can have a new one made next year.)
While you’re in the simplifying mood, gracefully bow out of the neighborhood Christmas lights competition this year. Just hang a wreath or put a bow on the mailbox and consider yourself jolly. If putting up a tree seems like an overwhelming task, don’t do it.
Jeannie Casey, certified postpartum doula, offers this sage advice, “Stop worrying about coffee stains on the counter or whether you put a wreath on your door. When you’re in your final years, you won’t remember the wreath, the gifts you sent, or whether you had turkey or ham that year. You’ll remember falling asleep with your baby on your chest or staring at tiny toes in awe.” So do the important things and let the rest go.
Reprioritizing means putting the needs of yourself and the new baby first. Dr. Mackey recommends that new mothers strive to get eight hours of sleep a day. She warns, “If you don’t get it, your energy level is low, your stamina is lower, you’ll gain weight more easily, and your decision-making will be negatively affected. Sleeplessness also adds to the feeling of being overwhelmed.”
Casey agrees, “You have to reestablish your priorities when you have a new baby. Life is hard going from store to store with a newborn that needs to eat, take naps, and have frequent diaper changes. And Mom needs food, drink, and naps, too. If a mother doesn’t take care of herself, she can get stressed out, irritable, and depressed—all of which can affect her milk production.”
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