My second son was due on Thanksgiving Day. Whether he came a bit early or a bit late, I was aware that I would have a newborn smack in the middle of the holiday season. As anticipated, he arrived almost punctually. Labor began as we packed up the leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner, leading to his birth at 3 a.m. the next day. We cherished the moment and snuggled our greatest Thanksgiving present ever.
A few days later, as we returned from the hospital, the reality sank in that we not only had a second child to take care of, a brand new little baby, but we also had Christmas preparations to manage. It was a marked departure from our first experience, having given birth in April. Back then, we only had leisurely springtime walks to take, and that was about it.
So, we embraced the challenge of adapting to a new life during the busiest time of year. Over the next few weeks, we not only survived, but I would even say we flourished, thanks to some crucial decisions we made along the way. It wasn’t always easy, but having a newborn during the holidays—at the commencement of the season, like me, or just before December 25—made it exceptionally more special. Witnessing the reflection of Christmas lights shimmering in my baby’s eyes during those late-night feeds is a memory I’ll treasure for the remainder of my life. For surviving the other 23 hours of the day, here are some tips and suggestions.
Pointers for Enjoying the Holidays With a Newborn
1. Release expectations
Primarily, relinquish any notions that this holiday season will mirror those in the past. You have a fresh member of the family, and you’re most likely recuperating physically and adapting mentally. This year will be different, there’s no way around it. But different doesn’t have to be worse. Dodge disappointment by endeavoring to let go of all expectations. Letting go of expectations is not only prudent irrespective of the time of year, but particularly right now. Instead, embrace the adaptability of doing what works presently in this particular season of life for your family. When there are no expectations, any triumph, no matter how slight it may be, is a victory, and during those early newborn days, little victories are significant milestones.
2. Streamline in every conceivable way
This is not the year to go all out; it’s the year to keep things simple and stay at home. No need to partake in every single at-home holiday-themed activity leading up to December 25. Picking just a few to embrace the spirit of the season is more than acceptable. Merge any tasks to make them more convenient in the long run. For instance, the year we had a newborn, I intended to still send out Christmas cards. Instead of doing cards and a separate birth announcement, we combined these into one, making it a whole lot easier. Having a newborn during the holidays is also the perfect pretext to decline travel and extra visitors and accept help. Seize the offer of a friend to wrap your gifts or drop off a care package—and welcome all the food. If there is a simpler way to do something this holiday season or someone else who can manage it instead, ’tis the season to do just that.
3. Embrace innovative concepts
We often get quite comfortable in tradition, making it challenging to explore anything outside the ordinary. However, as you release expectations, allow yourself to be receptive to new ideas and new ways of celebrating. I encourage you to be particularly open to new options for the sake of convenience. My husband is a “real tree only” guy, but with a curious toddler and a newborn, I encouraged him to try a fake tree, which turned out to be low maintenance and all-around better for us. Embrace the magic Lastly, take a moment to appreciate the uniqueness of this time in your life, in this season. Whether it’s for what the holidays truly signify on their own or for celebrating a beautiful new life, absorb the enchantment however it transpires for you. Savor hot cocoa as you rock your newborn for the 100th time, listen to the carols as you stuff and stamp the cards with your baby dozing beside you, and bask in the glow of those Christmas lights as frequently and for as long as possible. These lights on the tree will forever hold an extra special meaning to me, guiding my way during all those late-night feeds, reminding me of how grateful I am to have had a newborn baby during this time of year.