Preparing for the Holidays with a Newborn
When you’re a busy working parent, you take every opportunity to hone your organization and prioritization skills. It’s a survival mechanism. And there’s no other time during the year when these skills are needed more than during the holidays. With a little scheduled downtime after the Thanksgiving holiday, I reflected on past holidays seasons and mentally made my holiday “do’s and don’ts” list: holiday cookie making with the kids (do), Elf on the Shelf (don’t), Olivia’s 1st Nutcracker (do), hosting Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with a newborn (never again). Yup, that’s right. When Owen was just two months old, I hosted my family on Christmas Eve and my in-laws the next day. I pretty much spent my entire maternity leave planning for these two events. But, amidst the madness, I learned some tricks and tips for preparing for the holidays with a newborn.
Preparation Tips for Holidays with a Newborn Baby
Shop Online: This tip is pretty much for every busy parent. Online shopping is the greatest thing ever invented – just be sure you get an early start. You don’t want to discover too late that the one toy your older child asked Santa for is now out of stock online and then find yourself in a busy toy store with a screaming infant who hates being in his car seat unless you rock it vigorously back and forth. True story. It’s much more pleasant to shop online during those quiet moments, such as during middle of the night breastfeeding sessions.
Try Not to Host But If You Do: Really try not to offer to host any holiday parties when you have a newborn. You know you should sleep when the baby sleeps (ahem – rarely happens!) or, an even better idea, take your sleeping baby to someone else’s festive gathering. But if you absolutely have to host, make it easy on yourself by following these simple tips: cater, buy prepared foods or make it potluck; use festive holiday lights and candles to hide the extra dust that may be lurking about; opt for paper or plastic plates, cups and utensils for simple clean-up; take advantage of your guests’ gushing over your baby and give yourself a break from holding the little one for the night.
Lean on Family and Friends: Most family members and friends really do want to be useful and helpful after a baby’s birth. Take them up on the offer to “help in any way I can.” Some ideas: preparing meals, helping around the house (cleaning, laundry, etc), picking up the Christmas tree (it really doesn’t need to be a family outing every year), taking an older sibling for a special outing, shopping for last-minute stocking stuffers or gift cards, gift wrapping, or simply sharing a cup of tea together.
Make New Holiday Traditions: Whether your newborn is an only child or has a sibling, the holidays are a perfect time to establish new traditions. Kate, my fellow blogger, has a great list of 11 Christmas traditions to start after you become a parent. New holiday traditions can also be practical. If your baby falls asleep in the car, take a family drive to look at holiday lights and decorations. Use snuggle time to read favorite holiday children’s books or sing carols to your baby during “play” time as a way to engage your infant.
Embody the True Spirit of the Holidays: The newborn stage is fleeting and will be over before you blink. Use the holiday season as the perfect excuse to focus all your love onto the greatest gift that is your newborn. Not a single person will remember that you had the most perfect holiday card or wrapped gifts. But they will recall the way you smile at your baby without a second glance at the spit-up on your shirt.
If you find yourself with a newborn this holiday season, I hope a few of these preparation tips help. Please feel free to leave your own in the comments section below.
- E-family news: Stress Management Tips for Holiday Happiness & Family Fun
- Bright Horizons Online Community: Holiday Traditions
- Read more posts about holidays and posts about babies from the Family Room bloggers