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It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
A time for family, for good food, for making memories, and spending precious quality time together.
AND - it’s also time for house guests, messy kitchens, travel stress, and LOTS of shopping.
If this is your first year navigating the joys and juggling of the holiday season with a new baby, don’t worry - we’ve got a few great tips from parents around the internet to help you maximize the celebration and minimize the stress.
The one magic key that will unlock potential holiday joy? Communication. As parents of a newborn, you have permission to need a little extra help, set a few boundaries, and honor your priorities - and your friends and family can participate in all of that, as long as you’re honest with them about what you want and need. So don’t hold back! Kindly and clearly communicate your expectations, early, stay open to questions, and let your loved ones surround you with support.
Here are our favorite tips to add even more ease to the season:
Have a plan (and help making it happen)
Whether you have folks coming in for a day, an evening, or to stay for a week, an essential component of keeping stress low and joy high is planning. But planning ahead doesn’t mean you have to do the work all by yourself. If you’re hosting a meal, consider making it a potluck and nominating your most organized attendee to make sure every dish is accounted for. Having folks stay overnight? See if your dad might be willing to take on breakfast duty, or if your mom is down to be holiday meal kitchen coordinator. Arrange for your sister to take older kids out of the house to a movie or playground while the meal is being made, or a friend to deliver ready-made desserts from a favorite bakery.
This is the time for teamwork, and if everyone pitches in, you’ll all have more energy to enjoy your time together!
Share baby’s schedule and help folks honor it
Most friends and relatives WANT to be helpful and understanding about the demands of caring for a newborn. But a lot them simply don’t know what to expect, or how to support your family’s routine. Consider sending a simple itinerary of baby’s usual schedule to overnight house guests, including things like “He often wakes up around 2am to eat, which might disturb your sleep” and “Naptime is from 10-12 and 2-4, so we’ll need to be home during those times.”
When your guests know what to expect, they can prepare accordingly (pack those earplugs!) and offer a hand when needed.
Keep your most helpful family members close
Speaking of offering a hand, let’s say the quiet part out loud: every family has members who are less helpful than others. Your cousin Jen might be the most fun member of your family, but if she loves to play loud games late into the night and sleep in until noon then cook a big breakfast for herself, she might not be the right person to put up in your guest room this year.
Be strategic about who you invite to stay in your home, and put together suggestions of other accommodations for folks who need a bit more freedom and flexibility than your newborn schedule allows.
Take breaks with your baby
Sometimes, being around family can be a bit much, and that’s when having a newborn becomes an especially sweet blessing. Use feedings, diaper changes, and naps as a chance to take a break from the chaos and conversation and enjoy some private downtime and snuggles with your baby.
Getting a chance to hide out for a little while and recharge is a practice that might do everyone a little good during the holidays - babies just happen to be an adorable excuse to start practicing!
If weather permits, get outside
Fresh air can work miracles. If the weather where you live allows it, make sure to schedule into your plan some time for the whole family to take a break outside. Even something as simple as a walk around the neighborhood, a trip to a holiday fair or display, or a short park break can help everyone reset, reconnect, and really enjoy each other.
Make memories, even if that means the routine slips a little
Now that you’ve made a plan, communicated it clearly, strategically positioned your house guests, and figured out every detail - hold it all a little loosely. Things are going to run late, show up early, change last minute, and be forgotten. Bed times will be delayed because too many snuggles overstimulated your little one. The most well-intentioned house guest will “help” with laundry in a way that is the opposite of helpful.
These moments, these imperfect memories, are the foundation of a childhood full of festivity and family and fun for your newborn. The times things don’t go as planned will become hilarious stories you tell when they’re older.
Whenever possible, bend the plan a little to make room for memories and joy. That’s the whole reason you’re all together, after all. That’s the reason for the plan in the first place.
Happy holiday hosting, loves!