The holidays can be a stressful time for anyone, but for a new mom with a needy new baby, things can get nuts. If you’re one for elaborate decorating, cooking, baking and entertaining, it can be frustrating to feel tethered to the couch nursing, carrying a baby who won’t be put down, or stuck on a frequent feeding and napping schedule. And regardless of any other details, the exhaustion that’s pretty much an inevitable part of new motherhood can make the always-daunting tasks of holiday cheer-creation seem that much more impossible.
Here are a few tips to help you make it through the holiday party season in your new reality.
1. Take care of your baby — and yourself — first.
If your first responsibility is your baby, your second should be yourself. If you get yourself into a situation where you’re feeling pressured into being a frequent and festive guest (or worse, a hostess responsible for everyone else’s good time) you’re likely to crack under the unrealistic pressure. You will need to adjust your expectations about what you can do and how much help you’ll need to do it. You may have to disappoint some people, and they may be bummed out, but they’ll probably understand.
Think realistically about what you can handle, then try to create a situation where you can make it happen. If your apple pie is a core part of the family festivities, get your partner to take the kid while you make one. If your usual contribution is a four course Christmas dinner, or a gingerbread castle handcrafted from scratch, you may have to scale things back for now.
3. Forget flawless.
With a baby, you’re lucky if you can put a slice of cheese between two pieces of bread. So it is best to keep your expectations in perspective. No matter how successfully you channel Martha Stewart, you will not successfully produce a party at Martha Stewart level of perfection with a new baby to care for. Unless, of course, you have Martha Stewart level of financial resources and have hired a particularly enterprising staff. And even then, I’d have my doubts.
4. Remember: This is temporary.
It might feel sad to abandon tradition for the time being. And next Christmas might feel like a lifetime away. Not that planning a party with a toddler is much easier, but next year you’ll be in a whole different place for party planning. If you fail to live up to your reputation as the family hostess with the mostess, this one year, no one will care. (If they do, you’ve got bigger problems). There will be lots of times to deck the halls in the future… and in a few years, you’ll have some extra little hands to help instead of having your hands full of baby!