My daughter was born in September. I was determined that being a mom wasn’t going to change me. I had always been the fun, cool sister, aunt, daughter, and I was sure that I could still be that person with a baby. When the holidays rolled around, I was really nervous about having a crying baby in a house filled with family. But other than that, I figured I could still be the person that stayed up late talking and laughing and listening to my nieces tell me all about their lives. I was wrong. Being a mother, and a new mother at that, was different. For starters, I was nursing (and pumping and supplementing) which meant that every 2 or 3 hours I was gone for an hour taking care of that. I was also exhausted, so helping with food and participating in entertainment was a challenge. Being a new mom had changed me. For all you other new moms out there, here are some things that I learned.
- Be flexible… but not too flexible. Visiting someone’s house is probably not the time to be a stickler to the routine…to a point. Our little one had just started sleeping through the night and she was really awesome at waking up, crying for maybe one minute and going right back to sleep. But being in a house with 13 other people wasn’t the place to let her soothe herself. It was a new place and there were a lot of other ears to hear her. So she spent a lot of time in bed with us, which was unusual, but didn’t ruin her from ever sleeping by herself again. She was totally back to normal when we got home (well in a few days) and it helped us not be so nervous about her crying in the middle of the night at someone else’s house. On the flip side, we stuck to her schedule. We didn’t go out for hours on end because nap time was sacred and a routine in a strange place is very comforting for little ones. That meant that we didn’t take extended shopping trips or do all the things we did in the past years, but it was one holiday and it wasn’t the end of the world.
- Be ready to defend yourself. A lot of people have a lot of opinions about how things with babies should be done. Hopefully people are kind enough to know what’s helpful and what’s not, but sometimes they don’t. Remember that all of these people just want to help and are reminiscing their time with their babies fondly and trying to share that with you… let things roll of your back. Just be prepared for the “advice” you will receive. On a side note, during Christmas, we received great advice from my husband’s grandmother that taught us to give our little one more than a minute to settle into a nap before we gave up…the result was her taking a two hour nap!! So also listen to what people say, there might be something useful.
- Accept help. This is the best part, and the part that I am the worst at. If you have a large family, this is a great time to let other people do things for you. Be okay with sitting on the couch and holding your baby the whole time while other people make the food. )This might not be the holiday for you to debut your amazing hostess skills.) Or let someone hold that precious baby while you get a hot shower AND shave your legs! Family wants to help… let them.
- Know that things are different and accept that change. Things are going to be different because… well they are different… you will be tired, you will need to devote all your attention to your little one. But remember, this is only a time in your life, it won’t be this way your whole life. Before you know it, your little one will be running off and you’ll actually get to finish your dessert, possibly using both hands.
I was terrified about surviving the holidays with our new little one. It turned out great! It wasn’t the same as it had always been, it was better. My husband and I were able to experience all of our nieces and nephews loving on our little one, we started new traditions as a family and Caroline got her first taste of mashed potatoes! After everything, I realized that I did change… I had to, I was a mom now… but spending Christmas with a baby that is experiencing the magic of the holidays for the first time made everything worth it!