Congratulations! You have a baby and now you get to experience one of the most exciting and magical festive celebrations of the year. Whether or not you are religious, Christmas naturally brings a sense of togetherness, family and friends, thankfulness, love and joy. It is a chance for new beginnings and remembrance. You may have had to endure many years without a babe in your arms, so the pressure and expectations to make it perfect can be huge.
First of all, you need to manage your expectations. Depending on how old your baby is their first Christmas isn’t of any particular interest to them. However, it can be an overwhelming and over-stimulating time that does need to be managed. Christmas usually affects all of baby’s senses, with the smells of baking and BBQ’s, the noise of new toys and many people chatting, the lights twinkling on the Christmas tree and the many people coming and going. It can be an exhausting time for both you and baby, so try and stick to baby’s routine/schedule at least loosely. If baby doesn't really have a particular routine at the moment just look out for those tired signs and hunger cues. Don’t forget that your baby will still need their downtime and it can be distracting for them to feed with lots of noise around especially as they get older and more interested in everything. It can also have a snowball effect. If they don't feed well, they're not going to sleep well and then they will be more unsettled and restless and so be more challenging to feed, at the next feed etc.
Let family and friends know that they are welcome to come over and say hello and stay but that you may need to put baby down for a nap or take them off for a feed. People will understand if you explain. Remember you are the parent, and you get to call the shots, not Grandma!
It’s also important to think about the amount of work having visitors takes – the extra washing, making beds, cleaning etc. We often also feel that we need to stay up later to entertain guests which can be tough when you’re up at night feeding a baby. Don't feel bad about going for a nap or just having some timeout during the day. Breastfeeding is a tough job, that requires you to get adequate rest, good nutrition, water which all allows you to be a happy and relaxed mum. Be prepared to let your guests know how you are feeling and set their expectations. If you set expectations first everyone tends to be happier.
Often one of the biggest jobs at Christmas is providing an epic Christmas dinner with all the trimmings.
Look to outsource this job as much as possible. You don’t need the stress or added workload. Perhaps everyone can bring a dish or look at using something like my food bag or hello fresh (although I did that last year and couldn't believe the amount of work involved). Unless of course cooking the Christmas, meal is your favourite thing to do, in which case allocate someone to look after baby! Either way nobody will care, all they want is to spend time with you and share the festivities.
Gifts a Plenty.
Babies don’t actually need lots of toys. They are just as happy with a wooden spoon, a toothbrush, a loafer etc. They like exploring what is around them. Look at asking family to buy a year’s membership to your local toy library (check out Toy Library Federation of NZ - TLFNZ Home) where you can play with new toys each week, but don’t have to find a huge amount of storage for the toys.
A terms worth of swimming lessons, baby massage classes (Baby Massage voucher | Blissful Bubs), music classes, baby yoga classes or any of our great classes all vouchers can be adapted to be specific to your needs (Group Classes | Blissful Bubs, Wellington) etc These are all great experiences to have with your little one which will encourage not only development but also the bond between parent and child.
Also why not suggest a voucher for a night nanny to give the gift of a full night's sleep (https://www.blissfulbubs.co.nz/product-page/gift-voucher-for-a-night-off), this will be a great gift for parent and baby as it means that the parents will feel refreshed ready to cope with the night shifts again.
There are lots of cool ideas on how to do Christmas presents for your little one. The first year you don’t need to get it perfect, but it’s not a bad idea to start the conversation about what traditions and expectations you want to happen in the future, with your partner.
You have got plenty of years to come to buy extravagant presents if you so wish. Make the most of not needing to this year!
Getting it Right.
Working together with your partner and collaborating on what you want for your child and for Christmas is the most important thing. If you discuss your ideas, dreams and expectations then you can make sure that everyone has a fun and fulfilling time. Explain how you are feeling, and this will help you feel supported and valued. Make sure you then convey your ideas to family and friends so you can all be on the same page. Enjoy your Christmas. It is a time for family and friends and doesn’t need to be stressful.