Enjoying The Season With Your Newborn
My most memorable holiday seasons didn’t involve expensive presents, exquisite decorations, or extravagant meals. I didn’t attend swanky cocktail parties or impress my friends with stylish gifts. I survived on reheated lasagna, accessorized with burp rags, and spent my time gazing at tiny fingers and toes. I was the mom of a newborn.
Having a baby over the holidays transforms the season from merely festive to utterly unforgettable. It can be exhausting and overwhelming, but it offers some perks. Friends and family are likely to have vacation time to spend with you. Winter clothes make comfy, flattering postpartum wear, and future holiday celebrations will always be laced with memories of your baby’s miraculous first weeks.
For parents expecting a bundle of holiday joy, here’s how to make the most of this special season.
Stay busy only if you can
Before my first daughter’s birth in early December, I was a model of holiday readiness. The house was sparkly clean, the gifts were wrapped, and the cards were mailed. I was finishing my third batch of Christmas cookies when I went into labor.
Three years later, I welcomed our second holiday baby under decidedly different circumstances. The decorations were still in the basement, and there wasn’t a wrapped gift or Christmas cookie in sight. Yet, my memories of that holiday season are every bit as great at the first. So, tackle your to-do list, but don’t worry if you don’t get everything done. Your newborn won’t mind, and neither will you.
Cocoon at home and let friends and family come to you.
“After our son was born, we wanted to wake up in our own house as a family on Christmas morning,” says Baton Rouge mom Leanne Schaffhauser, who organizes the Moms Like Us playgroup on Meetup.com. “It was wonderful not to have to stress over where to spend the holidays. We hung out in our pajamas, opened our doors to friends and family, and got to sleep in our own beds at night.”
Take a pass on perfection
A baby changes everything. Don’t be surprised if your holiday priorities end up shifting.
“Forget about Christmas cards and gifts,” says Julie Gates, mom to December baby Sophia. “Everything was so out-of-whack with a newborn in the house. So I just took a pass that year and didn't send anything to anyone. And no one minded one bit.”
Bend your traditions
Holidays are about tradition, but life with a newborn may leave you too drained for your favorite holiday rituals.
“I was confined to bed rest for Thanksgiving, so we couldn’t visit out-of-town friends,” Schaffhauser says, recalling the season she welcomed her son. “After Lucas was born, I had to miss things like holiday parties with coworkers, cookie exchanges and shopping on Black Friday.”
Feeling festive may take some work, and some adjusted expectations. Our second daughter’s arrival put many of our regular holiday traditions on hold. So one late-December night, I filled thermoses with steaming hot chocolate while my husband loaded the kids in the car for an impromptu tour of holiday lights. Both girls dozed off, and we enjoyed some much-needed adult conversation and a few rare moments of tranquility in that busy season.
Manage gift chaos
Between new-baby gifts and holiday presents, packages will threaten to take over your already-crowded living space. Stash a pad and pen nearby to jot down who gives what, to make it easier to write thank-you notes later on. Keep gift receipts handy, but save any returning or exchanging until after the holidays, when you can take inventory of gifts and get it all done at once.
No matter how carefully you prepare, your holiday baby will probably throw you a few curveballs. They’re almost certain to scream during a long-awaited party, spit up on Grandma and have a blowout in their carefully-selected holiday outfit. So stock up on baby wipes, keep your camera nearby and get ready for your most exhausting, amazing and unforgettable holiday season yet.