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Extra Support New Moms Need During the Holidays
Relationships

Extra Support New Moms Need During the Holidays

The holidays are here and maybe the fa la la you felt last year is suddenly replaced with stress after all the changes you’re going through as a new mom. Visitors, shopping, striving for perfection, all while caring for a newborn and adjusting to a brand new life, can make this season less than sparkly. Reach out for the extra support you need…or put a bow on that support for a mom you know. Kate McReynolds, our Mommy’s Bliss 360 expert has some great advice about how to put the “merry” back in this blissful season.

It’s the happiest time of the year…so why does it feel so stressful? A recent poll found that while most parents say the holidays are generally a happy time for their family, nearly twice as many mothers than fathers experience higher stress levels.

Holiday Support for New Moms

Like many new moms, you might feel like you’re not getting adequate support during the hustle and bustle of it all. Here are a few things you might need more emotional or physical support with during the holidays, and how to ask for it:

Lowered Expectations

With the extra tasks that the holiday season brings (shopping, budgeting, organizing social plans, traveling, decorating, etc.), it’s easy to think you’re dropping the ball. It’s a lot to take on in addition to your regular parenting responsibilities, but it’s okay if you don’t go above and beyond. Put your family’s needs first, and let others know what you do and don’t have the capacity for. This can help them have more realistic expectations, while helping you reduce stress and alleviate negative thoughts or emotions you might be having about yourself. Here are some examples of how to communicate this:

  • “With our new baby expenses, we’ve decided not to exchange gifts/travel/host/etc. this year. We really appreciate your understanding.”
  • “Committing to plans right now is hard with how tired we’ve been, so there’s a chance we might cancel. We’ll update you on how we’re feeling as it gets closer.”

Your Baby’s Schedule

Some of your holiday stress might stem from adjusting your baby’s routines to make plans with other people. Maybe you feel pressured to skip your baby’s nap, stay out past bedtime, or attend events that aren’t very baby-friendly; maybe you’re not involved in the planning at all and are left scrambling to make it work around everyone else. To feel more supported in making (and keeping) fun holiday plans, share your baby’s routines with friends and family, or ask to be included in conversations about planning special events. For example:

  • “Our bedtime routine starts around 7:00. Could we start dinner sooner, so we don’t have to leave early?”
  • “It would mean a lot if you kept me in the loop about any plans being made, so I can see if it works with our pumping/feeding schedule.”

Packing for Travel

Traveling can be a little chaotic regardless of your situation, but traveling with a baby adds a whole new layer of stress when you think about all the stuff you need to bring. Asking loved ones to help secure baby items when you’re traveling is a great way to make the experience go a little smoother. Whether it’s asking them to pick up diapers so you don’t have to pack big boxes, finding someone in town to borrow a pack’n’play from, or planning to have a car seat already installed when you get picked up from the airport…getting help with lightening your physical load while traveling can be a huge source of support and stress relief. This could sound like:

  • “I’m feeling overwhelmed about packing some of the bigger things we need for the baby. Could you help me take care of ___?”

Childproofing Your Destination

There’s nothing quite like the panic that showers over you when you arrive at a travel destination and notice all the things that aren’t childproofed. It’s difficult to settle in and relax when your mind is racing, thinking about all the safety adjustments you need to make. Think about what you need for it to be baby-friendly, and see if someone can complete those tasks before you arrive. Maybe they childproof the entire place with outlet covers and cabinet locks; maybe they just make a safe and comfortable play area for your baby if childproofing everything isn’t in the cards. Here are some examples of how to ask for this:

  • “It would be helpful to have a dedicated space for the baby while I unpack, where they can’t get a hold of small items. Could you set something up before we get there?”
  • “I’m worried about the baby crawling onto the stairs. Could you put a baby gate there to keep it closed off?”

Breastfeeding Dietary Needs

Spending quality time with loved ones over a meal is a common holiday tradition, but if you’re navigating dietary changes to support your breastfeeding journey, you might find that your food options are limited. Consider asking the people hosting meals about their menu, or letting them know you’d appreciate it if they made some adjustments so you can still feel included. For example:

  • “There are some things I’m not eating right now because it’s impacting breastfeeding, so I’d love to talk through what meals you’re planning to see if I can still enjoy everything you make.”
  • “I’m avoiding dairy to help my baby with breastfeeding. Could you get a dairy-free option from the store, so I can still enjoy dessert with everyone?”

Respect for Parenting Preferences

When it comes to the holidays, every family does things differently. You might have certain preferences for how your family celebrates, and having that recognized is important to help you feel seen and respected as a parent. Whether it’s participating in religious practices or festive activities, telling make-believe stories or teaching valuable life lessons…you deserve to have your preferences accepted without judgment, and to have the final say in which holiday activities your family participates in. Here are some examples of how to express this:

  • “It’s important to me that my baby experiences ____ this holiday. I’d love for you to help me make this happen.”
  • “____ isn’t something we want to do with our baby. We would rather ___. We know it’s different from how you celebrate, but we’d love your support in starting our own traditions.”

Empathy & Understanding

You’ve probably noticed (unfortunately) that moms are sometimes judged when they’re visibly in the thick of a tough parenting phase…add in the extra stress from the holidays, and it can feel much more intense. It’s important that you’re given the benefit of the doubt when your mood is anything other than joyful, and that you receive empathy and understanding from others about the current season of life you’re in. Here are some ways to ask for this type of support:

  • “I know I’ve been more stressed lately…I hope you can recognize how it’s from the extra mental load I’ve been carrying to create holiday magic for our family.”
  • “I realize I didn’t respond in the nicest way earlier. I feel like I’m being pulled in a thousand different directions right now, and I’m on edge. I hope you can understand.”

It’s hard to be merry, joyful, and bright while balancing the extra stress that comes with the holidays…but you do deserve to enjoy it just as much as the rest of your family. Talk with your partner about ​how to discuss your needs with others, and to shed some light on the extra support you might need during the holidays.

This site is intended for informational purposes only and does not provide medical advice. Please consult your physician or other health-care professional.

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