The holidays can be tricky to navigate even without a new baby. We all love our traditions and parties and people, but if you’re heading into the holiday season with a new little babe, it might change things a bit. As you might have learned, now that there’s a baby in the picture it’s more tricky to plan things, get places on time, or feel like you have the capacity to socialize. There is sometimes pressure from family and friends to meet the baby, to uphold traditions, or to be somewhere you might not want to be in the name of the holidays.
Here are some reminders for new parents when it comes to navigating the holidays:
Holding your baby: You don’t have to let anyone hold your baby. If you’re toting around your newborn to holiday parties, please don’t feel obligated to let anyone hold your baby. It doesn’t matter if your favorite aunt has flown in from Montana, or if your MIL is annoyingly persistent-- if you don’t feel comfortable letting other people hold your baby, you can say no and not feel bad about it. You might only feel comfortable letting your sister hold the baby, or your best friend and nobody else.
Try not to let others’ feelings get in the way of you listening to your gut. You’re the parent, it’s your baby, it’s your decision. (but also if you feel better letting everyone hold the baby while you get two free hands to eat and drink, go for it!)
Feeding your baby: You don’t have to let anyone feed your baby. Someone might insist that they want to be the one to give your baby the bottle, or that your 3 month old might like to take a little taste of ice cream. You never have to say yes. If you’re nursing, don’t feel like you have to hide away in a corner bedroom (unless that’s what you and baby prefer), let your judgy aunt roll her eyes all she wants when you whip out your breast uncovered to feed your child.
Timing: You can come late and leave early. If you’re feeling nervous about cutting a nap short or having to skip one all together to make it to a holiday get-together, let this be your permission slip. Ultimately it’s your decision on if you’re cool with your baby skipping a nap, having a short nap in the car or in your arms. But if you’re feeling any sort of stress when it comes to choosing “making it to the party on time” vs. “letting baby have a full nap” go with what feels right for you and your baby. Don’t feel pressured to stay any longer than you feel comfortable with, even if you’re getting pressure “But we haven’t done xyz part of our tradition yet” or “Don’t leave the baby is having so much fun” or “Ohh, it’s just one late night what’s the harm?”
No is a complete sentence: Just because it’s the holiday season doesn’t mean you should feel obligated to participate in anything that will bring you extra stress, especially as a new parent. Those early months are hard enough to navigate without the added pressure of keeping up with traditions, the outfits, and the family gatherings. You can say no to having guests at your house. You can say no to bringing your famous appetizer. You can say no to attending a party. You can say no to attending light shows or parades. You only have to show up for what feels good for you and your family, and leave all else for another year.
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