Life is suddenly different when you have a baby.
Before, you had a freedom like you never even realized that you had!
You could sleep in on the weekends.
You could meet up with friends at the club.
You could even stay up all night for that movie marathon and fill up on popcorn!
Even the holidays allowed for some sense of freedom.
You could freely come and go to relatives’ homes for gatherings.
You could focus all your attention on hosting duties and make certain the silverware was polished to a shine!
Where’s the wine?
Indulge all that you wanted!
Along comes baby…
And, as you know, all that changes!
But don’t fret!
Here are some tips so that the holidays don’t seem too overwhelming.
1. Get the Scoop!
Get in on what is going on with family and friends early.
Try to see who is hosting what and when and about what time you need to be there.
Don’t commit to anything just yet!
Now is the time to simply poke around so that you can see if that particular gathering is going to fit you and baby.
Remember: holiday-ing is not just about you and what you are up for.
Baby has a bit of a say, too!
Your friends are all going to meet up at a bar for “Friends giving” (Thanksgiving with friends).
Since the bar may not really be the best place for baby, you can maybe suggest a place to meet with everyone beforehand.
Perhaps your friends would be up for meeting for dinner at a family-friendly restaurant first.
That way you and baby can still see everyone, but in a way that is more fitting for you two!
How about chain-smoker Aunt Suzy who may be hosting Christmas Eve dinner this year?
Perhaps you don’t feel comfortable bringing baby into a smokey home.
By trying to get the scoop early, you could have time to come up with a realistic excuse or another way to see family and, yes, even Aunt Suzy.
Which leads us to our next tip:
2. Don’t Feel Bad About the Decisions that You Make
I said it!
Don’t feel guilty for turning down an invitation to someone’s event if you don’t feel as though it is a good fit for you and baby.
Aunt Suzy may be upset if you miss out on Christmas Eve dinner but let her know that you will be there in spirit and that you would like to make plans to see her another time.
When you have a baby, you cannot please everyone else.
Your child automatically comes first and while other people may have hurt feelings, it is not the end of the world.
Weigh every event with your baby’s health, safety and happiness in mind.
Is a ten o’ clock dinner party going to interrupt baby’s nap time so much that baby will be crabby and up all hours of the night for the next week?
Then politely decline.
Offer to send a bottle of wine or drop off a plate of food so that you can still be a part of the gathering.
This let’s others know that you value their invitation, but that you simply cannot be a part of it at this time.
I have to turn down invitations all of the time because my children and I are still isolating from Covid due to health issues.
Let me tell you, it is the hardest thing that I have ever done.
But I still make myself a part of the event by dropping off food, offering to pick up anything for the event and commenting on pictures that they post on social media.
This way, everyone knows that I still care about them.
We just simply cannot be a part of the celebration.
3. Pack Lightly and Pack Early
If you are, indeed, going to attend an event with baby, pack lightly and pack up early!
Only take what you will absolutely need plus a little extra, just in case.
If baby usually drinks one bottle within the amount of time that you will be gone, take a few more ounces with you, just in case.
You don’t anticipate any pooping incidents so you may be tempted not to bring any extra clothes.
Bring an extra pair – just in case!
You never know what may happen!
Be reasonable, though.
You don’t want to have to bring any more than what you have to!
PACK UP EARLY!
I cannot stress this more!
There is nothing worse than trying to get out of the house to a certain place on time with a baby!
(Ok, there are plenty of worse things out there, but still. It’s a headache! Believe me!)
The night before, pack what you can and get it loaded into the car.
Going to need a stroller?
Toss it in the trunk the night before.
Got those extra baby outfits packed in the diaper bag and ready to go?
Toss it in the car!
That way, the day of, you only need to worry about packing last minute items, such as bottles and cold pacifiers.
It also gives you more time to get yourself and baby ready so that you are not so stressed trying to get out the door.
4. Know What Boundaries You are Going to Set Ahead of Time!
When you walk into Grandma Wiley’s house for that Christmas Day gathering, you know from experience what it is going to be like.
If your family is like mine, we are immediately greeted with lots of hugs and kisses and “how are yous?”
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get a little bit overwhelmed!
We have a huge family, so everyone at once can be a little taxing.
Nice, but a little much upon opening the door!
Think about baby and how baby might respond to those at the gathering.
If you are afraid that baby might get a little overstimulated by all of the people and greetings and jolly comments, stop and think.
How can you maneuver that part of the gathering with baby in mind?
Without being rude?
Perhaps you can excuse yourself and baby right away and announce that baby has a dirty diaper and you need to make it to the back bathroom.
This way, you’d only have to say hello to a few people at first, dash to the back bathroom and then come out and greet a few more family members.
Are you going to let everyone hold the baby and pass baby around?
What will that be like?
How can you manage that if you are not quite comfortable with it?
Know what boundaries are important to you and make plans to set them beforehand.
5. Be Loving, But Firm
So mother-in-law feels that baby is ready to try a hint of cranberry sauce from her finger?
Don’t be afraid to put your foot down and say no!
Once again, think ahead about how you might politely tell someone no when it comes to your baby.
“I’m sure [baby’s name] would love some of your delicious cranberry sauce, but not right now.”
If she pushes and comments about how you are being too protective, continue to hold firm.
You can say something like, “Well, I just feel that a warm bottle of milk is best.”
And then quickly change the subject or move on with baby to another guest.
Keep the party flowing and try to avoid any conflict.
Just remember that you are your baby’s mother and what you say goes.
Be the boss, but a kind one!
6. Know Your Escape Routes!
If you are at a guest’s house for quite some time, look around or find out ahead of time where else you can go to take a break.
Baby might need some quiet time.
You might, too!
Is the back bedroom an option for some space?
How about a quick break to the bathroom?
Perhaps the host has a covered patio that you can go to.
Maybe just take a short walk outside!
Wherever that may be, use those little escape routes to your advantage.
You’re not being rude by excusing yourself and baby for a bit.
You both might need some time to rejuvenate so that you can continue to enjoy the gathering!
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for What You Need
You forgot to pack a burp cloth?
Ask the host if she would happen to have an older towel available that you could use.
What about those dog-gone little trash bags to toss the dirty diapers into?
Forgot those, as well?
Ask for a trash bag.
Don’t be afraid to ask for for something if you need it.
Even if you need a little extra help with a spit-up mess.
Your host is a host and will probably be accommodating to your needs.
8. Take Pictures!
By next year, your baby will be older and will look so much more different!
Well…a lot of us will!
But babies change so quickly!
Make certain to get plenty of pictures of baby with family/friends.
Trust me – you will cherish those photos.
And so will your loved ones!
9. Have Fun!
it will be a little daunting trying to attend to baby while trying to enjoy the party.
Just do your best to have a good time.
When you relax, so does your baby.
If baby gets the vibe that everything is cool, then all should go pretty smoothly.
Hold on to the memories!
These can be some pretty special times.
Mama Morgan is a single parent by day and a writer by night! She is raising two, young children with special needs during a global pandemic. She aims to give other parents confidence, hope, and a practical, down-to-earth reading adventure through her own experiences. While Morgan is heavily focused on caring for her little ones, she is also dedicated to helping others and making the world a better place. Mama’s Grilled Cheese is just her delicacy!