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How to Minimize Holiday Stress with a Newborn

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Having a baby in the fall or winter is the sweetest. Cozy snuggles, the cutest little fuzzy outfits, and no guilt whatsoever on gloomy days spent entirely indoors, nursing by the fire. But for parents welcoming a baby in the colder months, an already stressful time of year can be even more so: the holidays. If you’re riding out this holiday season with a big belly or a new baby, read ahead for tips on keeping your whole household calm and cozy well into the New Year.

Keep It Simple

There is so much pressure in our society to have it all together, especially during the holidays: the artfully decorated home, the always-smiling children, the perfectly-plated Christmas dinner. This is your formal invitation to let all of that go, this year. Be gentle with yourself and soften your expectations. Why does your home need to be decorated to the nines, when you’ll be staring at your beautiful baby the whole time, anyway?

You may be known to your family and friends as the most thoughtful gift-giver or the one with the most creative holiday cards. Give yourself full permission to take this year off. No one is going to fault you for not landing anything in their mailbox this year. If you know you still want to send something, think about how to gift your loved ones with something simple. Send a e-card or a gift certificate. No one expects you to be hand-crafting gifts this year, so go easy on yourself!

Think about your family’s traditions that are most meaningful to you. It might be a Thanksgiving walk through the woods, picking out the tree together, or a sweet ceremony for lighting the Menorah. How can you simplify or modify those traditions this year? You may have to delegate roles you normally fulfill or find a new tradition altogether this year. You might not be up for cutting down your own tree, but you can find a farm stand closer to home to support this season. Think of this year as the perfect time to develop Plan B traditions, making any busy years ahead easier with simplified traditions to pull from.

Prioritize Self-Care

Even if you’ve had a baby before, there’s no way to predict how you’ll be feeling during your postpartum time. You might spend Christmas morning on the Maternity unit. You may have sore stitches, leaking breasts, or a baby in the NICU. When planning for the holidays this year, it’s important to prioritize self-care. Gift yourself nipple cream instead of makeup. Hire a postpartum doula to help take care of you and your whole family. Bookmark your favorite take-out menus, and stock your freezer with easy to reheat meals.

This is the perfect year to snuggle up and watch all of those sweet holiday movies you normally don’t have time for. Stretch out the joy of Christmas morning by taking a family nap break halfway through. And don’t waste one thought on whether or not you need to stay up for the ball dropping on New Year’s Eve – get your rest and trust that if it’s meant to be, your baby will wake you up at midnight, anyway.

Speaking of New Year’s, when you have a new baby, keep your resolutions simple. How about a goal to practice gratitude every day? This is not the season to be making fitness or career goals. Table those for next year.

Plan Ahead for Support

Does your pediatrician have a doctor on-call, even on the Christmas morning? Will your newborn care specialist be available for overnights on New Years Eve? Seek out these answers ahead of time so you don’t find yourself stranded for support during the holidays. Most medical and lactation offices have limited hours during the holidays. If possible, make appointments ahead of time.

Maybe your extended family normally gets together for a special dinner. Can you ask for a meal train instead? Place a cooler on your porch and your loved ones can take turns dropping off simple meals for the whole family. Placemats and fancy china can hang out in the closet this year. Focus on what’s most important instead: fueling your healing body with nourishing foods.

Remember What Really Matters The holidays are meant to be a season of reflection, gratitude, and rest. Try to keep that in perspective as you plan for what your holiday season will look like this year. You don’t need a ton of gifts to wrap or an extravagant lights display. This year, get back to the roots of the holiday season by focusing on family bonding time. Stock up the pantry instead of the gift wrap. A relaxing holiday playlist and a spruce-scented candle go a long way to infuse your home with holiday cheer. Don’t stress about missing garland, mama.

Give yourself permission to let go this season: of obligations, expectations, and to-do lists. Family traditions won’t fall apart if you skip them this year. In fact, you may find that in simplifying your holiday celebrations, you’ll develop new family favorites to be incorporated in years to come. So snuggle up with that sweet baby and know that any material gift pales in comparison to that bundle of joy in your arms!