You’ve spent your entire life focusing on what to get your parents, siblings, friends, co-workers. You’ve made wish lists for Santa, which later became hint lists for your significant others. You’ve decked your halls, perhaps in more adult-oriented ways (one year when a friend trimmed their tree with mini-liquor bottles). Now, all of a sudden, it’s time to place the focus on someone else. So, what are the ways to survive Christmas with a newborn? How does one make the transition?
Perhaps the first thing you need to ask yourself is why you’re wondering how to "survive" the holidays in the first place. Does your family put extra pressure on you around this time of year? Do you have a tendency to succumb to a bit of seasonal depression? Are you worried you won’t be able to afford all the gifts you normally do? If you're breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed, are you going to be around family members who think feeding your child with your body is particularly "gross?" If your answer to any of the aforementioned questions is a resounding, "Yes," perhaps you simply need a shift in focus. The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, when you have fun with loved ones. Gifts are secondary. Fancy parties are secondary. Everything is secondary, including someone else's judgment, to your new baby.
Still, even if you have a ridiculously supportive family and the holidays are a time of joy, and not stress, for you; surviving the holiday season with a newborn can be tough (because babies). Having been through it before, I can safely say I have a few suggestions for you; suggestions that will make this time of year sweet, not stressful.
Repeat this to yourself: you do not have to do everything. You do not have to make this time of the year “perfect.” It’s not a big deal. The only thing you need to focus on is caring for you and your little one (and OK, maybe being a little nicer to your significant other, if they deserve it).
Make All The Lists
You are exhausted all the time. After all, you have a newborn. If you’ve got some plans in mind for the holidays, best to employ the help of the To Do list. Maybe handwritten, maybe via an app. Either way, write things down.
Do Your Shopping Online
Shopping malls and newborns simply don’t mix, especially from Black Friday on. You don’t want to have a diaper explosion in the middle of some over-crowded store, do you? Amazon, Etsy, eBay, whatever. These are all your go-to spots this year.
Cut Your Gift List Short
Speaking of shopping, you know you’re not expected to shop for everyone, right? Maybe you used to shop for all your friends, and took advantage of your a more flexible income. But now that you’re spending your every red cent on diapers and butt rash cream, it’s totally OK if you cut some folks from your list. Your good friends will understand.
Take All The Pictures (But They Don’t Have To Be Professional)
Some folks pride themselves in getting professionally made holiday photos every year. Hey, more power to them (and you, if you're "them"). However, if your income (or your patience) simply don’t allow for it, it’s totally OK to use your phone or digital cam to record the special moments around the holidays. You can always make one of those cool printable photo albums later if you want.
If You’re Thinking Of Sending Cards, E-Cards Are Your Friend
Face it. Buying cards, writing out personal messages, and then mailing them out is a hassle. It’s even more so when you have an infant. So, nix the cards this year, or if you must, find an online e-card site to handle it all for you.
Don’t Force Yourself To Travel
Some people travel far distances every year to be with family on the holidays. But when you’ve got a new little rugrat, traveling at this time of year can be a real drag. Not to mention the flu is so rampant you probably won’t want to expose your little one to the flying metal shoebox stuffed full of people, that is an airplane. So, let the family know you may be staying home this time.
Invite People Over Only If It Won’t Be Overwhelming...
If you miss your family and friends, you can always opt to invite them to come see you. Now, don’t do this out of obligation or because people are insisting on coming to see you. Only do it if it’s going to help you all out, if it’s not going to stress you out.
...But Make Sure It’s Only Those Closest To You
If you are going to invite folks over, be very selective. Having people over often requires cleaning up (before or afterward) and when you have a newborn, it’s hard enough to squeeze in a shower. Be like the Marie Kondo of hostessing and only invite people over who bring you joy.
Decorate, Or Don’t. Baby Won’t Actually Realize What’s What.
When I was pregnant with my son, I envisioned myself decorating my home in elaborate lights and other goodies. In reality, I was able to get a tree up with some ornaments and that’s about it. Seriously, don't stress. You baby will have a blast simply looking at lights that are still wrapped up all together. Don’t go overboard.
Don’t Even Worry About Cooking A Big Dinner
Unless you are Martha freakin' Stewart, don’t worry about cooking up a fancy feast for your growing little family. If your partner wants to, cool. However, they should be just as happy with a few cartons of Chinese food on the big day.
Learn To Say "No"
You might get invited to parties. To caroling events or holiday movie nights. To gift-wrapping sessions. You will be too damn tired because newborns mean sleep deprivation. Just say no.
Delight In All The Firsts
This is your baby’s first Christmas. Why are you worrying about how to survive the holidays? You’ve already got the best gift you can imagine. Snuggle your little one. Watch Home Alone and drink some hot cocoa and call it a night. I guarantee you, you'll be happy as a clam, and so will that precious newborn of yours.