This was my first baby’s first Christmas and though I look happy, this is a face of exhaustion. We were on week one of teething, and my lovely girl cried all day and all night. It was horrible. I was going to work looking like a zombie and I felt tired to my core.
Smash cut to Christmas Eve. W wouldn’t nap at all.
And she was on me. And on me, and on me–screaming-fussing–whining.
My rope was getting shorrrrrrteeerrrr
Then–my innocent brother in law said something to the affects of ‘don’t worry about it, Amanda! She’ll be great’ AND I LOST MY MY GODDAMNED MIND. I screamed at him in the living room of THEIR home and then threatened to leave (out of embarrassment).
And ate the most shame-based dinner of my life.
Thankfully, my brother in law didn’t care, and we’re still friends. But baby-sleep and the pressure of the holidays can make it challenging to keep your shit together at family dinner.
Sooooo what the hell happened there? Let me break it down for you:
My Brain was on FIRE
The holidays stress me the hell out. I have a thousand reasons why but it deals with the holidays being stressful in my childhood. Pre-therapy (and like years of therapy), I would feel a sense of dread the moment the Santa Claus Parade ended. The expectations, the family fights, the disappointment, the tears–year after year. Ya–I’m an adult now, but some part of my brain don’t know that and they were on FIRE. I’d be dealing with my baby, my mommy issues, strategizing, pleasing everyone and a ball of nerves and anxiety.
We were not in Kansas anymore
The environment was different. This seems obvious but as parents were underestimate how upsetting that may be for baby that’s used to the warm and cozy arms of a routine. Babies, children, and adults THRIVE on routine so when the sheets smell weird, the walls look different, and mom seems stressed–that’s a perfect receipe for tears.
She was passed around by 50,000 people.
New small sweet baby.
How cute! Although your little nugget may to appear to enjoy the attention or is laying there like a sweet potato–it’s stimulating. The different people, smells, sounds and interactions are hyperstimulating to your infant.
Neurotic mama = screaming child
I was completely and afraid of seeming like TYPE A mom. I wanted to be COOL MOM. Yes , look how coooool I am sitting here skipping my babies nap or extending her wake window because a few family members remarked ‘she doesn’t look tired’ So I swallowed my anxiety and let it happen. And then I put my baby down and she was so tired and super duper pissed
All the above is hindsight. I didn’t have the presence of mind to know this then.
After years of my own work, my children getting older (and having more than 1), and working with hundreds of clients—-these are the steps you need to take to regain control of your vacation, your holiday and your family.
Your children are yours–are you are the freaking BOSS of your family.
So with that–a how to:
not piss off your family,
and get sleep on your holiday (so you don’t scream at your brother in law….)
Bow Out When You Can
Most of the time travel is unavoidable. And saying ‘no’ in this case isn’t going to be helpful. If you always have Christmas at Auntie Grace’s then you’re likely going to have to suck it up and go to Auntie Grace’s again. But you don’t need to go to every brunch, every house call someone asks you to attend. You have a small baby. You can say no whenever you want to so no. Be prepared to be flexible and offer to host a few people over instead. Or not.
Say no to anything you don’t want to do.
Use Your Words
So you have travel. No problem. Call your family members home and give them a run down of what your rouintes look like and what you need from them (nothing except support). Explaining things like ‘the baby may not look tired, but if I get it right, the baby will go down and I’ll be able to spend more time with you’ will get them on board. It gives them a heads up if answering 55 questions about your baby’s sleep isn’t up your ally. Your family will also like feeling like you think about their comfort too!
Take The Baby When It’s Appropriate
Pass that baby around all your friends and family BUT if you’re doing this, you may want to shorten your wake window by 15 minutes or so to make up for the extra stimulation they’re experiencing. This will make sure she’s not cranky, tried or whining when people visit. Say no to extended time awake, and explain why. You want a happy baby with the guests. Don’t apologize. Say it , take the baby and put her down–grab an eggnog (spiked or non).
Be Like Oprah and OWN it.
Don’t be high maintenance mom– be assertive don’t question me mom.
Why? Because sleep matters. To you (so you don’t scream at your brother in law when they’re trying to comfort you), to your baby (rested baby, happy baby, less tears), and to your family (do they want to hear a crying baby every hour?) BRING your garbage bags for blackout conditions and BRING your 3m hooks and shower curtain for your room dividing options if you’re room sharing. The more you apologize and say ‘don’t mind me, I’m crazy’ they more you detract from your confidence. People respect assertiveness and confidence–be THAT mom this holiday
These suggestions, of course, only make sense wen your baby is sleeping independently. If they’re not–you kind of need to help them sleep until you’re ready to not. BUT it’s time you give me a bit of a ring-ding. And give yourself the gift of sleep this new year!