Jessica Jefferson, LMFT
Holiday Survival Tips for New Parents in 2020
It is the holiday season, which for many new parents can be a good and a bad thing.
However, in 2020, things are A LOT different than what they used to be. Which is especially hard for new parents who lost out on a lot of pregnancy/new baby milestones.
Unfortunately, since things haven’t necessarily changed for the better, the holiday can feel like yet another milestone that COVID has stolen from them.
Long story, short… it sucks. Things didn’t turn out the way they expected and for many new parents they aren’t getting the empathy that they deserve because everyone is suffering. So, it feels even more isolating.
It is a lot to handle.
What I can say is, that while things may look bleak, there is an upside to having a more “intimate” holiday season as new parents.
Let me break it down.
The holiday season can be something that many of us look forward to, but it also comes with a lot of stress and pressure, especially for new parents. There are expectations that we are going to lug our new bundle of joy around town. Hop on planes to fly cross-county. Pack up our entire homes into one small baby bag. The list goes on and on.
If that sounds exhausting, believe me it is.
Everyone crowding around you to touch the baby (with their unwashed hands), asking a million of uncomfortable questions, and even having the AUDACITY to ask when the next one is coming. (Relax Auntie, lets at least give this one a few months of solitude first. Plus, momma needs some time to recover). It can get overwhelming, take it from a momma with experience.
But I get it. It would be nice to have a choice in the matter, but COVID has taken all of our control this year but they don’t have to take away our joy.
There are ways to make the most out of this holiday season as new parents, while also creating memories for years to come.
Now, before I get into the tips, I think it is important to take a minute to think and reflect on the positive things that you experienced this year.
This may be harder than usual, especially since it feels that we are hanging on to a thread but look back and think about the good things that have happened. The first and biggest being your new baby.
While it is hard to be a parent, I am sure there is nothing that can compare to the joy that it brings. That is always going to be a plus! Now, also think about how you may have given the opportunity to be home more with the baby. You have had the chance to see them grow. Something that a lot of parents didn’t have the chance to do.
Take this all in. Think about all that you have gained this year.
Ok… reflecting on the positive… now let’s move onto the tips!
1. Capture These Moments - One of the tips that I got before becoming a parent is to make sure to take pictures and videos as much as you can. I know that we tend to do that anyways but make sure to keep a few photos just for yourself. It is nice to be able to keep things to yourself and reflect back on that time and memory, especially when your kid gets older and no longer snuggles with you (sigh LOL).
Just remember to also be in the photo as well. We often tend to take pictures of just the baby because that's all we care about, but it is important to be in the photo. Remember these are memories not only for you, but for your baby in the future. They might be curious about what you looked like when they were a baby or would want to take a photo of the two of you when they go off to college. Whatever the case may be, make sure to be in the photo as well.
2. Create Your Own Traditions - Now that we are having a more “intimate” holiday, this is our chance to create our own traditions. We can do things that WE want to do versus what everyone else wants. You can do family pjs, make a gingerbread house, or create your own dreidels, whatever the case may be, this your chance to do it and hopefully this will be something that you can do for years to come. Be unique. Be creative. Have FUN!
3. Advocate for Yourself - Unfortunately when we become new parents other people tend to think this is a great opportunity to make comments or impose their own wishes. It can get very stressful and daunting because all you want is what’s best for your baby without all the guilt trips. Which is easier said than done.
So, it is ESSENTIAL to think about what makes YOU comfortable this holiday season and to stick to that boundary. It isn’t going to be easy and some people may try to push those boundaries but remember this is about YOU and YOUR baby.
Especially now that there is a safety concern with getting sick. So if you decide to not go visit people, maybe limit the number of visitors or potentially require a negative COVID test prior, that is ok. Your safety and the safety of your baby is what is most important. The drama and comments can take a back seat.
4. Use Your Go-To’s - This tip is something you should utilize ALL YEAR ROUND because it is important for your mental health, your well-being and the well-being of your child. Because a happy and healthy parent equals a happy and healthy baby. However, your go-to's should NOT involve your baby. This is time for you and only you. It isn’t selfish to do something for yourself, in fact it is super healthy to do so.
So, what are your go-to’s?
a. Have a Go-To Outlet - This should be either a hobby or activity that you use when you are stressed. I think it is important to have a mix of productive (exercise, cleaning, etc.) and unproductive (video games, art, socializing) activities at your disposal that you can use in high anxiety times.
And the holidays are definitely one of those times, especially in 2020.
Now, I understand that your go-to outlet may not be readily available or safe to partake in just yet but be open to exploring new things. This is the perfect time to do so. Whether it is taking up a baking class or knitting a sweater, try it out to see if you like it. If you don’t, well, at least you learned something about yourself.
b. Have a Go-To Treat - Make sure you treat yourself every once in a while. You DESERVE it. It is hard being a parent. So, if you want to buy yourself a Starbucks coffee or a trip to the hair salon, that’s ok.
Acknowledge yourself. Appreciate yourself!
Plus make sure to do it regularly. At least once a month.
c. Have a Go-To Time Out - Sometimes we need to take a break. Again, that’s ok. Make a plan for how long these breaks will be and have a designated area to do so. Take that time to watch a Netflix show, read a book, or maybe finally shower. Whatever the case may be, give yourself a mental time-out so that you can come back ready to be the best parent you know you are!
Listen, I get it, 2020 has not been ideal and unfortunately that may linger a bit into 2021. Don’t let COVID take away the joy that the holidays can bring. Also don’t let it take away from the bundle of joy you created.