Holiday Survival Tips for New Parents and Nursing Moms
Holidays are a time when friends and families come together. They’re also a time that can bring added work and stress. Add in caring for a newborn and things can quickly spiral out of control. Your first holiday with a new baby is a wonderful time to practice caring for yourself and developing the say ‘no’ skills so you can be a better parent. Here are some simple strategies for surviving the upcoming holidays.
If you decide to host (and remember, you could put this off until next year!), setting expectations beforehand is key. Include a start and end time with your invitation and try to keep it small—not everyone has to see your baby on this particular day! Here are some other stress-reducing tips to consider:
- Simplify cooking. Catering can be your key to socializing! Or try a potluck this year! How about brunch? Bagel parties are great, especially for those on a budget!
- Out of town family asking to stay with you? Ask yourself, will they be helpful? If the answer is no, let them know that you’re looking forward to seeing them and send some recommendations of nearby places for them to stay.
- Continue to feed your baby how you normally do when guests aren’t there. Excuse yourself, if you need to lay down and nurse or rest with your baby. Love to feed on the couch? Go ahead! Remember, it’s your house and your rules.
Holidays often mean traveling. Really check in with yourself and decide if this is the year to travel. Perhaps you’d enjoy a cozy, immediate family only stay-cation instead! If you do decide to get on the road, here’s a few pointers!
- Driving? Build in lots of extra travel time if you’re nursing. You’ll need to pull over to feed your baby periodically. Pack snacks for yourself too—breastfeeding burns a lot of calories! If you’re using donor milk or formula feeding be sure to pack extra in case of traffic.
- Exclusively pumping? Be sure you’ve got your power cord or extra batteries.
- Flying? Breast milk and formula are exempt from the 3oz rule, but will need to be hand examined by the Transportation Security Administration. Again pack extra if you are supplementing!
Nothing like having a baby to shift into simpler gift giving rituals or move into gifts for the littles only! In general, if gift giving is a must in your family, here are some words of advice:
- Shop online ahead of time. Pick one day, purchase all the gifts you need and, if travelling, have gifts delivered, pre-wrapped.
- Tell ‘em what you want! (If they ask) Consider experiential gift requests like a parent-n-me class or a contribution to a college fund. Perhaps what you’d really like is a massage, or a gift certificate for your favorite restaurant!
Feeding and Enjoying the Holidays
Maintaining routines can be challenging during the holidays, but remember, babies are resilient. Routine disruption will happen. Set that expectation now and it will be a little easier 🙂 Be gentle with yourself and remember routines will come back. Try these tips for enjoying yourself.
- Team up with your partner or family and alternate eating vs baby care! Some people like to hire a sitter to help when they are hosting.
- Try a baby carrier for hands free entertaining—and nursing!
- Want to have a drink? Breastfeeding doesn’t mean you necessarily can’t, but if you’re too buzzed to care for your child most people recommend Check outs the old “pump-and-dump,” just be sure to have extra pumped milk, donor milk or formula on hand.
- If you’re hosting, think about hiring a cleaner for the aftermath.
Ultimately, surviving the holidays is about setting realistic expectations for yourself, getting comfortable with saying no, and learning to create boundaries. It’s hard to do, but the rewards are many, and learning to set limits and say “no” might just be the single best self-care any of us can practice.