By Chris Molnar
This Christmas is your first one with a newborn. It’s definitely an exciting time, but there are also a lot of things you will stress over, such as figuring out how long to spend at each family’s house. Or trying to parry offers of food that baby isn’t ready for. Or how about opening gifts and finding that two different families picked the same outfit, causing an uncomfortable silence? These are the realities to baby’s first Christmas.
Though this special milestone is filled with much joy, it can bring about a great deal of stress as well. Unsuspecting new parents often find themselves at the center of heated debates between at least two different families. Add to that the stress of a whole army of relatives with well meaning but often unwanted advice. Though there can be a lot of stress to baby’s first Christmas, there are some effective ways to cope with that and eliminate that … unless you do the following:
1. Listen to All the “Advice” From Your Relatives: Yes you are going to have a whole army of well-meaning relatives that are sure to annoy you immensely. They will give you advice on everything from how warm you should keep baby to what they should eat. You can fight with them, causing heated arguments and lots of hurt feelings. Or, this is where you as a parent grow your wings by learning how to politely ignore them.
Only you know how to take care of your baby. You’re not suddenly going to change your ways based on conflicting advice. Your family and friends are excited about your baby, and just wish to feel part of baby’s life by “helping” you. Just smile politely, let them talk and then move on to another conversation. This usually gives the signal and allows you to focus on enjoying the season rather than being bogged down in too many opinions.
2. Don’t Prioritize: It’s not enough to just tell each side of the family that you’ll come on by with the baby. They want to know times of arrival, how long you’re staying, and how much time you are spending at the other family’s house. You and your partner should come up with a plan as you would for any other occasion and then stick to it.
You need to prioritize what you will be doing this Christmas. Write down what activities you have done before baby arrived. If you usually help at five major events, cross off four of them and stick with one. With the demands of your newborn and all the attention from family and friends, you won’t have time for the others.
3. Accommodate Everybody: Christmas is about celebration, festivities, parties and gifts. If you are planning to do all this, think again. You have a newborn. That means you will not have slept in weeks or months. People should understand if you have to bow out of certain parties, or if you decide not to be the hostess this year. Let somebody else take care of it this year. You and baby come first, and your friends have to realize this.
This is very hard for some parents but a necessity. Be cordial but speak your mind when enough is enough. Be sure that everyone understands that baby needs time to eat and sleep (this actually refers to yourself) and that sometimes this means that you can’t be everywhere. Though it may not go over well at first, if you set your limits early on, your friends and family will eventually understand.
4. Try to Be Perfect: If you have watched the latest crop of television shows featuring a baby, you will see that the house is always immaculate, clean and tidy. This is because a baby doesn’t actually live there! It’s a set put together by Hollywood designers and technicians, many of them in their early twenties and childless. The reality is that you will barely be able to get yourself dressed. Instead of thinking of presentation, think about simply enjoying your first Christmas with your new bundle of joy. The messy floor, the laundry and the last time you bathed don’t matter. Learn to embrace your new addition to the family – in twenty years, your memories will be of them crinkling the wrapping paper, not the piles of dirty dishes!
About the Author:
Chris Molnar is a Dad to two wonderful preschool daughters and has (almost) learned to take the stress out of holidays and birthday party planning. He and his wife are starting to get full nights of sleep after five years, and the dishes are usually washed the same day. Their first Christmas with baby involved lots of crinkling of wrapping paper, getting dressed in the late afternoon, and a short trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s where they let them do all the work.