Christmas survival tips: put your immediate family first
Many parents, especially first-time parents, find Christmas especially difficult because they spend the season trying to please everyone. Whose house do you go, and for how long? How can you juggle long car trips between relatives with a newborn who breastfeeds on demand and doesn't nap well outside their own house? The simplest and most effective solution is to make a pact with your partner that you'll strive to put your own immediate family first, even if that means you have to say no to traditional family get-togethers and events.
If you have a new baby and everyone wants to see it over the holidays, you have choices to make. Are you up for driving your baby all over creation to visit this relative and that, disrupting their sleep schedule and throwing their feeding times off? Are you comfortable breastfeeding in relatives' homes? Is there a place where you can set up the portacot and put your little one down for a sleep? If all these questions make you feel even more stressed out, then you'd probably feel better staying put or doing the minimum when it comes to visiting relatives.
It's hard when your family expects you for the holidays, and there's nothing quite so guilt-inducing than grandparents who sigh theatrically, "Great-Aunt Agatha will be SO disappointed not to see you." Take a deep breath, and reply, "We'd love to see Great-Auntie too, but unfortunately Baby is just too small to be taken places this year. Perhaps Great-Auntie could stop by our place on her way home."
You don't have to make everyone happy, and it's not your job to ensure that the entire extended family gets a cuddle with your newborn. If they want to see your baby, make it clear that they're more than welcome to come visit for a few hours on Boxing Day (after you hit the sales, of course!). Keep a positive attitude, and keep repeating yourself.
This is the perfect time to create some new holiday traditions for your little family, too. If you're always torn between whose house to go to for Christmas Day, maybe this is the year to decide you want to stay home and have your own Christmas celebration, and visit the family on Boxing Day or New Year's. You have a right to decide how your family will celebrate the holidays, and if it's just too much trying to please everyone else, then you need to step back and decide to focus on pleasing yourself.Have everyone over for breakfast on New Year's if they insist on seeing you.
Set your own terms and stick to them. And don't apologise - that implies that something is wrong with what you want to do, when in fact there's nothing wrong with needing your own space. Tell others that you're going to start a new tradition of staying home for Christmas Day, and that you'd love to come over another time. When you frame it in those terms, it's difficult for them to find fault with your ideas.