Oh new Mama, we have all been there: looking forward to the first time baby is with the family for the holidays, while wondering how in the world to make it work!
My husband and I have 2 large family gatherings every Christmas and then more again at New Year’s as well as birthdays straight after that…
Before having kids we used to do both his family and then my family on Christmas day, then something on Boxing Day after Christmas, and then something on the day after that. Then a week later it all happened again.
It was crazy but it was fun with lots of family and food and many presents!
I had this wonderful hazy dream of just including my kids in this holiday madness…
Then I had kids.
Now I wish for enough sleep to do any dreaming.
And holidays are more likely to bring anxiety than excitement.
I wanted to continue to enjoy holidays with family. So my brain kept whirring with ways to make it possible.
Can I just say that also a lot of blog posts helped me? There are some awesome people out there sharing ways to make life easier.
From my not-at-all-scientific research, these are some ways that I found helped us.
Plan to do less
Well, this is a no-brainer.
Doing too much with a baby is a sure-fire way to get everyone stressed.
So instead of seeing both of our families on the one day, we now pace it out. One family one day and then the other family the next day.
And sometimes we give ourselves a “day off” in between with quiet so that it helps to recharge for the next day of busy family again.
Keeping things a bit quieter in the lead up as well has helped too. It can get busy with all the little parties and cookie making and viewing lights and seeing Santa…!
We choose a few things that we really want to do each year.
It’s kinda like decluttering your calendar. And it frees up time for impromptu events that you miraculously do have the energy for.
So this week we have had planned visits to grandparents and close family friends (since we obviously need to view everyone’s Christmas decorations! Yes that really is the reason we are going!). There is still a day planned with cousins who live further away (and we will make gingerbread houses together, which probably makes me more excited than the kids!)
But since those were the only things we had planned, we have managed to fit in a wee bit of extra Christmas shopping and an impromptu playdate with friends. And there is no stress. It just does not feel too hard to do.
Of course, my kids are now pre-schoolers so it is not the same as having babies. But we learned our lessons while the kids were young and stick to them.
Keep events around baby’s usual alert times
If you want them to be part of it!
If they are good sleepers (lucky you!) then you may actually want to plan the main events for when they will have a sleep…
Which brings me to the next point.
Travel cribs are your friend!
If you do not have one, then I seriously suggest you invest in one.
This made our lives SOOOOOooo much easier.
Get one that is easy to set up. Something like this:
You will thank me later.
Honestly we kept a port-a-cot set up in my parent’s spare room. That way it was there whenever we needed it. And it got a lot of use.
But having one in the car made things that little bit less stressful as well.
I do suggest you try it!
Block background noise
So many people told me about cool apps on their phone for “white noise” to help baby sleep.
But what happened when I wanted to go elsewhere with my phone??
In the end we did use an app on the phone for being in anyone else’s house and an old stereo in baby’s room at home.
I wish we had bought one of these baby white noise makers.
Would have been less hassle.
You see, we had 2 babies that loved to find out where the party was. And join it preferably, mostly to watch the action.
So sitting with them while they went to sleep was fine. But trying to leave with the phone… not so much. Yes, we did end up leaving our phones, and yes, we could leave the phones on silent so it didn’t ring… but I would have found it less hassle to have something that was not my phone to leave with the kids!
Like any good boy or girl scout!
Obviously you will take milk wherever you go, whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding baby. And if baby has got onto solids you will have that too.
What I’m thinking of is whether you need a bit of extra prep when the kitchen is super busy and there are people everywhere.
Being able to retreat to a slightly quieter space may help baby actually focus on feeding too!
I bottle fed my kids since I was unable to breastfeed. So I would sometimes travel with a flask of warm water as well as the milk powder, rather than asking to heat the bottle up once the milk was made. It just seemed easier.
And that is what I am suggesting may be easier for you too.
A simple flask like this one will do.
Or something less simple but very cool like this!
Likewise, when our kids started on solids we also took our own bowls, spoons and food to large family gatherings. If the food was late it didn’t matter as much if the kids were fed!!
And on a side note here, if you make sure baby is fed before food is served, then you might get to sit down and eat it while it is hot.
Because surely a doting family member will want a cuddle or to help baby burp after food… and you can take advantage of that to enjoy the delicious meal 😉
I hope you will be able to enjoy a wonderful Christmas with your beautiful baby, Mama. Keep your expectations realistic and accept any offers of help!\