November 22, 2016
The holidays are upon us and for new parents it can be fraught with anxiety. Whose family do we spend the holidays with? Do we travel? If so, how: car, bus, train, airplane?
Should we just stay home and have family visit us? But how will we be able to host people? I can’t even feed myself half the time let alone a dozen guests? And my baby just got into a somewhat predictable routine! Help!
Many families are eager to show off their new baby and want to have holidays with family and friends. It is not impossible to enjoy the the festivities with some planning and a change of expectations.
First, expect that your baby who is used to somewhat of a routine may want to be in the arms of her parents more. She may also nurse more than usual – nursing is calming for a baby, she feels safe in your arms, safe at the breast.
Depending on where and how your baby sleeps, her sleep may be different when traveling or when you have company. This is not uncommon and know that you can get back into a routine once you get back home or the guests leave.
Sometimes it works to invite people over to your place so that your baby’s routine is fairly regular. Make it a potluck to take the pressure off. Make definite times for your event:
People want to help but often need direction.
Assign jobs: setting the table, washing dishes, vacuuming, etc.
Some new families like to keep it simple and stay home and create their own traditions.
One family has a tree trimming party in early December. They make it an open house with set hours where people do not have to stay the whole time. Their friends bring ornaments and food. This is a great way to see friends and family in a festive way without the overwhelming scene of everyone all at once.
Another family started a tradition of staying home, eating their favorite junk food and watching silly movies. They wear matching pajamas. No friends or extended family – just their little family.
This may be the first time many of your loved ones are meeting your new baby. They all want to hold her. That does not mean she wants to be held by all of them.
I recall my sister’s wedding was the the first time many of my family were meeting my oldest for the first time. She was nine months old. She was comfortable in the arms of my husband, my mom, my sister and me. But everyone wanted to hold her. I have lots of photos of her with tears or a red face. It was overwhelming for her. After a while I told everyone they could take a picture with me holding her. Those photos show a smiling baby with her cousins and aunts and uncles – and me!
Some people may be critical that your baby is “clingy.” Your baby is in survival mode. You may be met with criticism of how often your baby nurses.
Speaking of nursing your baby may nurse more than usual or she may even get distracted and nurse less. If she nurses less your body will let you know! Just take her back and nurse her if your breasts are getting full. If she is distracted go to a private room – take a nap together! This can be your escape excuse!
Some have never nursed in front of family. Practice in front of a mirror or with a group of other nursing moms and you will see that very little skin shows. If you are one who feels like you need to partially undress to nurse, a pretty scarf can help offer some privacy.
Before these gatherings discuss your plans. If Aunt Martha is always critical of your parenting and you have to see her, plan on a few replies to her comments.
“My that baby isn’t dressed warm enough! I would never have let my babies dress like that.”
“Aunt Martha, thank you for your suggestions, we will consider them, for now things are working for us.”
“My, that baby sure nurses a lot, you may want to give her some cereal in her bottle!”
“Aunt Martha, our pediatrician says we do not need to give her cereal, my milk is all she needs.”
Many couples have an escape plan. They have a code for when the time is up.
It could be a wink or a phrase. “Honey, I left the oven on.” “Sweetheart, I have on two different color socks!”
Make sure you take lots of photos. These memories should be preserved.