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Tips for managing the holiday season with a new baby

Setting boundaries with family and friends when you have a new baby can be tricky. Especially around the festive season and summer holidays where you have increased friends and Whānau  visiting.  The joy of welcoming a new baby into their lives and celebrating with the parents can be top of mind – and they understandably want to share in the excitement. 

But those of us with new babies and young children know that as new parents, you’re juggling a lot. Sometimes, having too many visitors adds to the anxiety that can accompany caring for a new baby.

We’ve come up with some recommendations for setting boundaries with your new baby and young family over the summer months.

It’s OK to Say No

It can be hard to say no to visitors, but sometimes it is in the best interest of you and your baby. If a visitor has been unwell, or someone in their home has been, it’s best to wait until your baby’s immune system is a bit stronger/they have had their first immunisations. Family and friends will no doubt feel disappointed at the need to wait – but will understand that keeping your baby healthy is your number one priority.

It’s a good idea to have people text first to check whether it’s a good time to visit or not. That way you can politely say no and suggest a more suitable time for your household.

Set Expectations

Or lower them! Especially for yourself around Christmas time. This summer may look a little different for you and that’s ok. Some babies can be pushed around in a buggy and doze under a shady tree while you picnic with friends and whānau, others will want to cuddle up with you on the couch and that might be all you do all day.

When it comes to your visitors – be clear on what you expect. Especially at the moment – they’ll need to wash their hands before they hold your baby, and be prepared to help around the house, run errands or fend for themselves in the kitchen.

If you have a friend or relative who you know will make things difficult, might expect to be waited on, or add to your stress, explain to them that your home is centred around the baby, and it would be better if they waited to visit. For some friends and relatives, it can be difficult to have these conversations before they ring your doorbell. Just keep in mind that you are making choices to benefit your baby. Everything else is less important. 

Establish Healthy Boundaries Together

This could mean talking to your partner or the people in your household to develop a list of priorities and rules that work for you and your baby. It is paramount for you to be on the same page when you bring your pēpē home – there will be a lot going on and having some sort of game plan will remove unwanted stress.

Some families request privacy for the first couple of weeks while they learn how to breastfeed and heal from labour and birth. Again, it can be difficult over the busy summer months, but looking back on this time, as one where you took is slow and eased into it, will feel much better than feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

 Grandparents

Of course, it’s important to many people to facilitate a grandparent’s special bond with their baby. Of all the visitors you will host and spend time with over the Christmas break, you probably feel you should be most accommodating to your parents and in-laws, but that does not mean you can’t set boundaries.

You can sit down and evaluate with your partner whether the grandparents will help or hinder you as you care for your infant. If it’s the latter, encourage short visits at a time that is best for your schedule. If you’re all staying together over Christmas time, have specific tasks in mind if they ask how they can help. It’s OK to take time alone with your baby when they are there if you need a break. It is OK to put your baby to bed according to schedule, even if a grandparent asks to keep holding him.

Having a new baby arrive around Christmas time can be a wonderful blessing. Many hands to help, whanau and friends together to share in the joy (and workload!) and sunny days to get out and about in the fresh air with your new edition. It can also be a demanding time of the year – but by setting boundaries and reminding yourself that your number one priority is to keep your baby safe and happy – you can enjoy this precious time together.

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