There is something truly magical about baby's first holiday season. Seen through the eyes of our children, the lights on the tree take on a whole new kind of wonder.
But, if you are like me, the stress of the holiday season (especially when weathering the witching hours, teething, or developmental leaps with baby) can take its toll.
Here are a few tips for starting traditions that will nourish your family for seasons to come!
Keep it Simple
Often the gift-giving aspect of the holiday season can be a source of joy and stress. Baby's first holiday season is the perfect time to embrace simplicity that will allow you to focus on being together. For example, a three-gift approach - something you want, something you need, and something to read - or a four-gift approach - something you want, something you need, something to grow on, and something to read - offer concise, catchy frameworks for gift-giving for the family
This may also be the perfect time to shake up family traditions. If gift-giving with extended family now includes lots of nieces and nephews, moving to a gift exchange where family members draw names instead of purchasing a gift for every person can make those gatherings less about stuff and more about enjoying time together.
What was your favorite holiday memory from childhood? Seeing the Nutcracker Ballet? Riding the Polar express? Singing carols door to door?
Whatever tradition speaks most to you, if the thought of enjoying it with babe in arms or carrier sounds appealing - go for it.
But know, too, that traditions will grow, change, and deepen as your family does. Maybe between the middle of the night wake-ups and the pumping at work and the holiday obligations, adding one more thing sounds like the opposite of holiday joy.
So, pick something small, something meaningful, and something you can circle back to each year. Maybe it is hot cocoa by the tree. Maybe it is a winter walk to see the lights. Maybe it is hitting your favorite trail as a family. Whatever it is, make time for it, and forget all the pressure to do ALL the things.
Your baby isn't holding a checklist - he or she just wants to be close to you and wrapped in your love. It's truly that small and that big.
Starting your own family often comes with the task of setting boundaries with your family and friends - and holidays tend to be more the rule than the exception when it comes to this particular work of family making.
Do you know that playing "pass the baby" stresses out both baby and you? Does baby nurse best nestled in the carrier and then stay there for a snooze? Do you need to have baby swaddled and shushed before 6 p.m. or things go sideways, making the 7 p.m. holiday dinner too tricky?
You know your baby. You know yourself and your partner. Trust your instincts for what works for you and establish boundaries that help your little family flourish.
Offer options and compromise when you can - so you can't make that 7 p.m. dinner, but, wow, baby is SO happy in the morning. What about suggesting everyone meet for brunch the following morning so they can get their fill of your beautiful baby at a good time? Be collaborative, be creative, and know that one holiday season soon your now-babe-ever-so-soon-kiddo will be able to stay up and munch on cookies and drink cocoa way past bedtime - but it is okay that this holiday isn't that time. Yet.
Find the Magic
If nothing else let this be your guiding principle - do the things that give you all joy and forget the rest. And truly, holding your little miracle in your arms in the glow of the lights is a magical tradition that you can enjoy for years to come.
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