Getting Through the Holidays as New Parents

By Kate Nemchausky, LPC, Clinical Therapist at Bricolage Wellness 

It is an exciting time of the year! We are in the midst of the holiday season, and some of you have more than just the holidays to celebrate. Your newest addition to the family is here to celebrate with you for the first time. There are get togethers, visiting family and friends, and expectations.

You might feel overwhelmed as you anticipate holiday celebrations with your new baby. You have needs, the baby has needs, and your loved ones have needs. How do you balance it all? 

By setting boundaries! 

It can be difficult to come up with rules and stay strong in maintaining them. But it still can and should be done. These are your holidays too and you want to enjoy them with extended family and friends, while remaining true to what your own little family needs. 

First, make sure you and your partner are on the same page. Discuss with each other the rules and limitations that will be best for the whole family. Put together a plan of action for multiple scenarios that might arise, whether it be getting the baby away from well-meaning relatives to having a place to feed baby in peace. 

Have a visitation plan in place so that you can tell people what is acceptable and what is not. It might seem like a no brainer, but remind people to wash their hands before touching the baby. And tell people that they must have their flu-shot and vaccinations up to date before visiting. Decide how long you would like visitors to stay, and give yourself permission to excuse yourself and baby when you are done with the visit. 

Next, prepare for push back. Although people have the best of intentions in most cases, they will not like being told what to do and might not hesitate to let you know how they feel. Stay strong, and remember that you are your child’s advocate. You are the one who speaks and acts in the best interest of your child. You and your partner decide what is best for baby, what is best for you, and when something needs to be said or done. Enforcing those needs may not make everyone happy, and that’s all right. Your baby’s needs, health, and safety come first.

If you’re nervous about setting boundaries, here are some suggestions for communicating with family and friends: 

  • Be direct – “It’s time for me to spend one on one time with the baby (or I’m really tired). Thanks so much for coming!”
  • Don’t change your parenting style or schedule – Leave the room to feed, put baby down for a nap in crib. And if a visitor insists on holding them while they sleep or feeding baby, simply tell them, “The baby sleeps best in her crib” or “I feel most comfortable feeding the baby”. This is your child and your parenting style. 
  • Be honest about your changing needs – Maybe you visited with family and friends for hours at a time before your baby arrived. That might not be what works for you now. If you receive push back, you can say, “I’m sorry, but it’s time for us to get going. Why don’t you call ahead next time and we’ll set up a time that works?” Stick to what feels right for you. 

Looking for some additional support to help with managing anxiety around navigating the world of parenting? Schedule a free consultation with me today to talk more about what this support might look like for you. 

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