“A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.” – Garrison Keillor
New moms have plenty to celebrate during the holiday season with a new baby at home. But it’s also the most hectic hustle-bustle time of year.
Here you are, trying to adjust to a whole new normal of sleepless nights, 24/7 feeding schedules, and days so full they pass like time-lapse photography: sunrise melts into sunset. Where’d the day go?! Even thinking about decorations, festivities or gift-buying can seem like gargantuan efforts better left until your child is old enough to walk and feed herself. You may feel a bit like Mrs. Scrooge if all you want for Christmas is a good night’s sleep.
You are not alone. Every new mom with a December-born baby feels this way. Well-meaning friends and family add to the chaos by wanting to celebrate your newborn’s first holidays with you.
If you are about to implode at the thought of one more To-Do added to your multiplying lists, slow down. Take a deep breath. One list is all you need. The first person on that list must be You.
Holidays should be celebrations not obligations, though as we all know, they are usually a mix of both. Stay focused on what’s important: Love, food and fun. With a new baby in the home, it’s time to create new family traditions and you get to write the rules.
So here are ten holiday rules for new mamas
1. Connect with loved ones closest to you. Don’t overbook house visits with distant friends and cousins twice removed. Low-key is the way to go.
2. Perfection is impossible. Lower your expectations about the holidays, yourself and your partner. Who needs to write holiday cards this year? The baby announcements said it all. Plan the least amount possible. Newborns have an uncanny ability to alter plans at the last minute anyway.
3. Simplify gift-giving. Reduce spending sprees and running around. Have a family raffle so each person is responsible for a single gift with a price limit in place. If you need specific baby or personal items, say so.
4. Deck the halls (or not). If you’re not up for a tree and the hours of decorating that go with it, place a welcoming wreath on the door instead. Spruce up the living room with Christmas lights, sprigs of red berries, pine boughs and poinsettias. Put on some carols, light a fire and presto-chango, the season looks brighter.
5. It is all about you (this year at least). Set your parameters. If you decide to entertain and the party needs to be an early night, let everyone know beforehand. If you’re not up for dinner, do lunch instead. If you have to slip away for a quick nap, even with a houseful of people, go right ahead.
6. Top Chef? Bah! Humbug! Best new mama menu: a potluck feast. If you have great cooks among family and friends, don’t be shy about asking them to bring your favorite dishes. Make it a point to stay out of the kitchen and enjoy the party.
7. Go for style and comfort. Dress up by dressing down. Which of your clothes haven’t been christened with baby spit-up? Entertain in stylish easy-wash loungewear. Think Gap Body. Add a necklace, earrings and your favorite red lipstick for quick finishing touches.
8. Your days of mocktails are over! Time to celebrate with the real deal. If you are breastfeeding, avoid “breastfeeding under the influence” by taking a Milkscreen Home Alcohol Test (best gift ever!) before nursing your little angel, or by pumping before the party and using stored milk for feedings.
9. Accept all offers of help. Visiting family will want to pamper both baby and new mama. Feel free to go get that massage, mani-pedi, facial, or just take time for yourself out of the house to do anything you want.
10. Treat yourself. Do whatever brings you peace, whether it’s ordering takeout for dinner, skipping a holiday party, or just vegging out with your favorite TV show.
‘Tis the season to count your blessings, and among them, friends and family who make life crazy and worth every moment. Happy holidays!