It’s time for Grandma’s annual holiday dinner, the same one you’ve been to since you were a kid. This year, you’re bringing your newborn baby with you to join in on the tradition. You get them bundled in their cold weather clothes, pack your bag with all of the necessities, strap them into the car seat and drive over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s. You open the door to find 40 of your extended family members you haven’t seen since last year flocking to you and your adorable baby, and suddenly you’re bombarded with questions and asks and attempted kisses and “can I hold them?” before you’ve even taken your coat off.
Holiday season is just around the corner, and for parents with newborn babies, it’s a time of year that can often be stressful. Even before the times of COVID, bringing a newborn into many different environments with many different people, in and out of cold weather, battling cold and flu season – it can be difficult to navigate the familial expectation of “showing off the baby” versus how to keep you and your family safe, healthy, and sane.
Set Boundaries – if you’re going to go to holiday gatherings, it might make sense to set a boundary and let your partner and the host/hostess know so they can help prime everyone and stick to your limits. Boundaries can include time limits (staying for an hour or two maximum), who can hold or touch your baby, where your baby can be kissed or if your baby can be kissed at all, needing a quiet space to breast/chestfeed if needed or, honestly, just to take a break! Any boundary you need to put in place so you feel more comfortable and in control is totally up to you. Sometimes, setting those boundaries looks like not going to a place that may not respect the requests you’ve put in place as well.
Keep to One Gathering or Event Per Day – the Holiday season is a time of year where it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the activities offered within your community. Train rides on the Polar Express, holiday events, play dates, indoor and outdoor activities – there are just so many options! It can be easy, especially if you have other children, to overdo it. Limit yourself to one activity or gathering per day at most, and adjust as needed. Every other day, once a week – whatever works best for you and your family is what is best!
Babywear When You Can – keeping your baby physically on your body when in large groups is not only helpful for keeping the well intentioned excitement of holding a newborn (who doesn’t love to snuggle a fresh baby?) to a minimum, but will also help calm and soothe your newborn who may be overstimulated in a new noisy environment.
Create New Traditions – having a new baby is a great time to start bringing your own family traditions into the fold during the Holidays. It’s important, even with a newborn, to include them in your immediate family traditions, which also gives you a break (or an excuse) from attending other events and celebrations. Celebrate the night before, or the morning of. Carve out some time for everyone to do something together, no matter how small it is, to spend that time together as an immediate family.
Trust your Intuition – even if you’ve never done this before, trust your intuition as a parent to know when to say you’ve had enough. For some, there is little to no anxiety around bringing their newborn anywhere and everywhere with them during this time of year. For others, the holidays are anxiety inducing without adding a newborn into the mix. If you feel more comfortable and safe at your own home, have a select few people come to visit you there this year. If you don’t want anyone but your partner and your baby for the holidays, that is fine as well. You know your family and your baby best. Trust yourself to know what you need at the moment, and reach out for help when needed.
If you find yourself struggling during the holidays, New Life Doulas are happy to help you with what you need to feel safe, less anxious, and relieve stress around this time of year. Contact us today to see what we can do for you!