Less Stress, More Joy! - Holiday Visits with Littles
The holiday season is upon us, and there are a thousand things to do, buy and people to visit and parties to attend. Now let's introduce a little one to the lack of familiarity, the upheaval of routine, general overall excitement, and see how we all fair.
Never fear, everything is figureoutable!
While I certainly don't have all the answers, I can offer a few ideas to help you get creative and maybe make it through the holidays with a little less stress and a little more joy.
• Say no. Say no to some of the invitations. I know you don't want to miss out on the festivities, but that's why we have video chat! Get yourself some festive snacks and beverages, and visit virtually. You can even stay in your pyjamas! And for the record, I'm okay with you using your little one as your excuse to get out of just about anything during the holidays!
• Be kind to yourself and try not to overbook yourself - one event/ visitor in a day is plenty! There were a few years when my husband and I would try to visit both sides of the family in one day! Our families live 20 minutes from each other, but quite far from us, so we would hit one up for the morning and one in the afternoon. It was awful, exhausting and unrealistic!
• Make a plan for lack of routine. If you must travel, plan your travelling and visiting with the baby's eating and sleeping in mind. Leave extra time on road trips for pit stops to feed the baby and bring snacks for older children and yourselves. Same babies and children love car rides, and it puts them right to sleep - plan for car naps! Other littles hate the car and scream the whole way. Try to leave during a wakeful time, pack distractions for them and sit in the back seat with them if you can - hopefully, they'll nap during a pit stop or once you've arrived. Maybe you can take the train or a bus and wear your little one in a carrier during the ride? (plane travel is worth a blog on its own!)
• On that note - use a carrier. A carrier gives you hands-free time while still meeting your child's needs! It's usually comforting and familiar and can allow partners to share comforting duties. It's also more likely to keep any unwanted hands off your little person. Germs are one concern, but well-meaning relatives and their helping hands taking the baby for long periods can cause engorgement if you're breastfeeding which increases your risk for Mastitis. Please, feel free to whip it out and feed your baby anytime, right in the middle of a gathering if you need! Keeping your little one close is a comfort measure for parents and children. Toddlers and preschoolers can enjoy this closeness too - there are plenty of toddler size carrier options out there.
• Decide how to respond to others’ opinions. Everyone has an opinion, and there’s nothing worse than feeling flustered and at a loss for words. You may want to come up with a few one-liners before you arrive. If you suspect they are not interested in a conversation, a simple “Thanks for that idea.” or “That sounds like an interesting idea. This is working for us right now. I love how different approaches work well for different families”, may work. While you never need to explain yourself, some people may be genuinely interested, and you could end up having a great discussion with a “we’re choosing to do X because Y…” response. If you’ve got a great response, share it with us! #ittakesavillage
• Make sure you've got an exit strategy. Whether you have people in your own home or you’re out visiting, you need an exit plan! It's so easy for you or your babe to get overstimulated and refuse to eat, sleep or settle. Set up a quiet space for escaping during a gathering (yes, even at other people's places!) and don't be afraid to spend the whole time in there if you or your baby need it. Simply excuse yourself and feed your baby or take a nap with them. The party will continue until you're ready to return! Set a time limit for your stay- calling it sooner rather than later is always a good idea. Or how about a code word to let your partner know that you're ready to go?!
• Fighting with sleep. Staying the night, or several, away from home? Parenting your child to sleep will likely get everyone more sleep and cause less stress. No one likes being alone and afraid in an unfamiliar place so why fight that battle? Snuggle in, sing songs, dance, rock or nurse your little one to sleep and know that eventually, you’ll all be home and back into your rhythm.
It's not gonna be perfect, it might not even be pretty but setting some boundaries, and realistic expectations might make things more enjoyable.
Take care of yourselves & enjoy the holidays!
Ruth has enjoyed watching many bodies change, stay functional and become powerful humans. Education is at the centre of her approach, believing that knowledge is power and that informing our minds and bodies will help build an extraordinary life experience. Creative by nature and armed with an excellent knowledge of functional anatomy and physiology of pregnancy & birth, Ruth loves working with all sorts of bellies, babies and bodies!