We think Christmas is the best. Like Will Ferrell in Elf, it's our favorite. We love it, truly. And we know that it can be awful, overwhelming, and full of crazy moments of parenting guilt and shame. So if this is your first Christmas with your little one, here are our 10 best tips for cruising through the holidays:
10. Take a moment away to feed the baby
This one is kind of a given. Feeding the baby is the perfect excuse for taking a break. If you're breastfeeding, you get the added bonus of being the only one who can sneak away for a private moment to feed the baby. If you're bottle feeding and Aunt Margie asks to feed baby, you can be honest and say you could do with the quiet moment alone. It's allowed.
9. Don't over do it
Babies have pretty simple needs, and they might not need the $300 Hatchimal that you scoured E-bay to find. Just sayin'. Your friends and family will be excited to share baby's first Christmas with you and there's a good chance you will end up with four different "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments. So cut yourself some slack on the whole baby gift buying situation.
Also? Don't over do it on the gift giving to the other kids in your life. We like the gift giving guideline: something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read. It's a fun four-part present they get to open that is also practical! Put a $10 cap on each category and that's a $40 budget for each of the kids in your life. #WinningAtChristmas.
8. Ask for/accept help
Perhaps Aunt Margie walks through the door and you're thrilled to see her so she can feed the baby. It offers a few uninterrupted minutes to finish that gift wrapping - sweet! You actually don't need to cook the whole Christmas feast AND do the dessert AND all the dishes afterwards. In our house, cooks don't clean. It's a fabulous rule. Which do you want to do? Neither? Perfect. Put your feet up and feed the baby (see tip 10 above).
7. Wear your Baby
The number of times I have uttered "Thank heavens for baby wearing". If your bub has been passed around to every adoring extended family member and is giving you the I've-had-more-than-enough face, pull out that wrap or carrier to avert the inevitable meltdown. When you know your baby needs a break, there's something about putting baby in a wrap that sends the needed message without you having to say a word.
As I type this post, I'm standing at my living room window with Hazel on my back trying to bounce her back to sleep...because when you're teething, naps are for suckers. Thank heavens for baby wearing.
6. Say no, and take the down time
Rachel is amazing for chiming in with the wise reminder that "No is a complete sentence". This simply means that you don't need to explain your reasons - if the answer is no a simple "Thanks for thinking of us! Unfortunately we can't make it but we hope you guys have a great time!" is all that's needed. When you need to take the time home with your bub, do so. Unapologetically.
With all the noise, stimulation, and traveling it can be overwhelming for your little one. Taking a down day in between the visiting and the socializing is so necessary for some babies (and mommies and daddies). A day back to your familiar and predictable routine does everyone's mental health a favour.
5. Set clear boundaries around time and sleep
Do your little ones hit a wall at a certain time of day? Is bedtime firmly set at a specific time of night? It can help to maintain routines by either hosting at your house so babe can sleep in their bed or, if your baby is a unicorn and can sleep anywhere, bringing a pack and play for them to crash upstairs at the party you're at.
Either way, think ahead to what is going to work best for you and your family on days when you're celebrating. Ask for support, and make requests! You have a new baby - Christmas dinner could be brought to your house and all you have to supply is your appetite.
5. Or don't, and enjoy the few days of festive chaos
Party hard! Rest hard! Christmas could also be the perfect opportunity to throw caution to the wind and see how babe does when you're all in full on party mode....it's only once a year, right? Right?! Realistically, we'll do a combination of #4 and #5. We'll party hard until we can't and it's bedtime.
4. Feeding friendly outfits
Whether breastfeeding or bottle feeding, layers are the way to go. For bottle feeding, a layered top offers a quick underlayer if the top layer is spit up on. For breastfeeding, layers allow for whatever amount of coverage you need to feel comfortable and confident feeding your baby wherever and whenever. Simply lift the top shirt up and the undershirt down and voila! Or invest in some lovely nursing tops like this festive red number from Baby and Me Maternity.
If you're more of a whip-it-out-wherever type like me (see photo above), that's cool too. We're all about doing what you need to do. We might be border-line nudists though so...#JokingNotJoking.
3. Enjoy the little moments
It really does only come around once a year, so here's your cheesy "be present" tip. Watch the tree lights sparkle in their eyes, do the obligatory Santa photo (if they're not too scared of the big guy), and do the late night sleepy drive to check out the Christmas lights. Life is good, so take a moment to soak it up.
2. Implement special traditions to do just in your house
This is my favourite because it's these special little memories that will last forever. Think ahead to any special traditions you would like to have, just for your family. And start them this year.
In Rachel's house, the kids go to bed at their own house so they can wake up in their own beds on Christmas morning. Growing up, I was always awake at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning, so excited that Santa had come. I would run downstairs, get my stocking and look at all the treasures while I waited for the rest of the house to wake up. Whether you are Elf on the Shelfers, or stocking stuffers, or advent calendar enthusiasts, we are all about the family traditions.
1. Have a cuppa cheer!
Enjoy! You know your limits, and how to best be safe with you and your babe.
Here's some evidence based information on drinking and breastfeeding from one of our favourite resources: Kellymom.com.
All the love to you and yours from us gals at Five Elements! xox
Do you have any tips to add to this list? What works best for you and your family at Christmas?
Christine is a DONA International Certified Birth Doula who brings a sense of joy, excitement, and wonder to her work. She loves to support her clients as they journey towards their own best birth and shares their pride in their accomplishments. Offering deeply intuitive care, she is able to encourage them as they uncover their own inner hopes and desires for their birth, while supporting them with the tools to achieve them.