How to Cope & Survive the Holidays as a New Parent
Ah it’s holiday season, the “happiest time of the year” so they say, right? Well, it’s important to acknowledge that this time of year is not always the happiest and, sometimes, it is a rude awakening just how stressful the holidays can be as a new parent. If you are feeling this stress, YOU ARE NOT ALONE & IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. Now, read that again.
While pregnant, you may have envisioned this time of year with your new baby and now you are being hit with a completely different reality. If this is the case for you, it is important to recognize this and to remind yourself that this is only temporary and you are still deserving of having a nice holiday season.
Here are some tips on how to cope & survive the holidays as a new parent:
This one is HARD! You may be used to going to all the holiday parties and family gatherings during this time of year but now you are hit with the reality that it is jut not possible with a new baby. You technically may be able to fit it all in, but should you have to at the expense of your mental health? NO.
It is okay to say no to events and gatherings that may be too much for you and your newly expanded family. Look at all your invitations and decide which gatherings are most important and go to those and decline the others. You want to enjoy this season, not feel burnt out.
Along similar lines, in the past you may have been the “life of the party” arriving first and staying late. Now you have different priorities so it is okay if you have to leave early to get the baby to bed or relieve your babysitter. People may not understand and give you pushback but it is so important to stay true to your boundaries. I suggest creating a plan prior to your event, it is easier to stick to a plan than trying to wing it.
Show Yourself Compassion.
You are going to see it is not as easy to get everything done as pristine as you did pre parenthood. It is okay if you do not hang up your Christmas lights outside or put every ornament on your tree this year.
We tend to put so much pressure on ourselves to find the perfect gift, make the perfect Christmas dinner, and please everyone in the process. This is too much for anyone to bear, especially a new parent.
This is the year to practice giving yourself compassion and grace and to carry this out even beyond the holiday season! There is no such thing as perfection so if you keep striving for it, you will find yourself frustrated and burnt out.
When you start to set boundaries and give yourself compassion and grace, you are leaving room to create so many special memories. Instead of stressing about making the perfect dessert, you get to sit with your new baby and sing holiday songs. Rather than spending time worrying about the perfect holiday card, you leave more time to go around the neighborhood showing your child all the pretty Christmas lights. When you say “no” to something, you are inevitably saying “yes” to something else and the “yes” here is creating lasting memories.
Creating memories does not have to lead to added pressure, I’m not asking you to create 50 new holiday traditions, rather what I’m saying is to slow down and stay present with your little one(s) and soak this lovely season in.
So whether that means getting dressed up in matching pajamas and taking photos, laying around watching holiday movies, or baking Christmas cookies, this season is all about creating new memories. Please don’t be that parent too wrapped up in perfection to be present in those photos and/or memories.
Ask for Help.
It may be your tradition to host the holiday but this year, with a new baby, it may be time to ask someone else to do it. Or maybe you host but you ask your guests to bring food so that it is not all on you this year. These changes do not make you any less of a capable human, it just means you value your mental health and making memories rather than stressing like you have in years past.
They say it takes a village, make sure you are asking your village for help!
This can be linked to above, “make memories,” because as you practice staying present you are creating many lasting memories rather than letting these precious moments fly by. The saying “your presence is present enough” is so true for a new parent at the holidays. People should not expect you to get the perfect gift and your child certainly does not care what you get them for Christmas (honestly, they are a baby they don’t know what’s going on yet anyway!).
I suggest starting your day with a meditation or a quiet stretching session with calming music to get yourself in a healthy mindset for the day. I know it may be difficult with a new baby but the way your start your day really sets the tone for the rest of the day. Try to be intentional with any free time you have and bring yourself back to the present moment.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and want to come back to the present moment, here is a healthy coping strategy to help:
Find a quiet spot and take a deep breath and tune into your body and the environment around you.
5 things you can see
4 things you can feel
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste.
This grounding technique is great to bring you back to the moment by using all 5 of your senses.
Overall, what is most important is that you enjoy your holiday season, whatever that looks like. Take some time to reflect on how you would like your holiday to go and try to make that your reality. Of course, with a new baby you need to expect some curveballs and the day will not be perfect, but by letting go of the idea of perfection, you are already setting yourself up for success. You deserve to have a happy holiday, whatever that looks like for you!
If you find you are struggling and need extra support, contat me today to see how I can be part of your village. It may not feel like it right now, but you will get better and you will get through this. Trust and allow yourself to feel your feelings at this time in order to move towards healing.