Christmas is meant to be one of the happiest times of the year, but it can also bring unwanted stress and pressure especially if you are pregnant or a new parent.
Here are my 12 top tips to survive the silly season.
Tip #1 - Hydrate
The hot weather requires us to drink more water. This is especially important for pregnant and breastfeeding Mums. Be aware the baby may want to breastfeed more frequently and for shorter periods to get a higher water content in hot weather. It can be hard when pregnant and breastfeeding to not feel you are missing out at Christmas events – pop some cut up fruit in your water to make it more exciting. Avoid alcohol if pregnant and remember than caffeinated drinks (although we are tired at the end of the year) can make us more dehydrated.
Tip #2 - Healthy Diet
Try to maintain a balanced diet. It is definitely the time of year for treats. Treats are wonderful but within moderation as high sugar fixes can make you feel worse in the long run. Be mindful of this for children too. It can definitely impact on their behaviour if they have too many treats.
Tip #3 - Realistic Expectations about the day
Have realistic expectations for the day - try not to be too hard on yourself to create the perfect Christmas Day! Kids will remember how they felt on the day, not what food was presented to them and which dinner setting was used or how perfectly the Christmas tree was decorated. A calm atmosphere will create happier memories for all and is far more important than things looking perfect. Sit back and enjoy your loved ones as that’s what is really important. I think COVID has reminded us that the little things really are the big things.
Tip #4 - Realistic Expectations of newborns behaviour
Dr Howard Chilton speaks to what he calls Christmas Colic – not colic at all… just over-stimulated and tired newborns who have come from a largely uninteresting uterine environment to a highly charged and stressful Christmas Period. Have realistic expectations for the baby’s behaviour!
Tip #5 - Prioritise what makes your family happy
Don’t try and catch up with everybody you only see once a year in the space of 2 weeks. It can wait and catch up’s will probably be more enjoyable at a less busy time of the year. Think about and prioritise what will actually make your family happy. Cuddle your children and don’t miss out on a month’s cuddle quota due to the Christmas craziness. Children often feel overwhelmed too and sometimes just need a parent’s presence and a break from the pace of life. This will benefit everybody.
Tip #6 - Be Flexible
Be flexible with plans. It’s a busy time of year with end of year concerts and performances, catching up with extended family, shopping, cooking and much more! The world doesn’t end at Christmas and not everything has to be achieved in a 2 week period.
Tip #7 - Set Boundaries
Set boundaries for family and your baby. Newborn babies are used to having your attention all the time. They pick up on change and heightened levels of excitement (and sometimes stress) in the household. There’s loads of stimulation for a newborn at Christmas – lights, bright colours, noises, new voices and being overhandled. This can all lead to overtiredness which you then pay for when the visitors leave. To avoid over-handling of your baby (especially in the current pandemic), wear your baby – people are less likely to touch them if they are on your chest! Have a plan for being in other people’s homes – do you need a porta cot, the pram or a pillow for breastfeeding?
Tip #8 - Ask for help
Outsource and remember its ok to ask for help – get partners and older children to help and delegate tasks to family and friends. Keep things as simple as possible. Not everything has to be home-made or made from scratch. Say yes if people offer to help or bring things.
Tip #9 - Look after your emotional wellbeing
1:5 women and 1:10 men experience anxiety or depression in pregnancy or the first year after having a baby. Over the Christmas break, seek help if you need to talk to a professional. Help is out there. Christmas can be an emotionally triggering time especially for those who are away from family or who have lost family members.
It’s common for women to feel isolated at this time despite often having large amounts of people around. This is often the case when breastfeeding or settling a young baby and often missing out on meal times
Tip #10 - Prioritise Self Care
Look after yourself first and prioritise sleep! You can’t take care of the family and everything else at this busy time if you don’t make your own needs a priority. Schedule a nap and have some days with no plans if you possibly can. This may mean letting some of the chores around the house go and if you have a young baby sleep when they sleep.
Tip #11 - Learn to say no!
Its invigorating once you know how to do this. It’s also easier said than done so give yourself a break and practice saying no. Make sure that saying yes to people isn’t saying no to yourself. Missing some events will not damage healthy and important relationships.
Tip #12 - Have fun!
Routine’s may go out the window, there will be meltdowns (not only from the toddler) and plans may change. Try and be light hearted about it and stop and laugh. Celebrate surviving the year – especially the year 2020 which has been crazy. Let the small things go and have fun during the festive season!