The Best Christmas Gift I ever Received (and surviving the holidays as a new mom)

Good morning!

Do you have any fun plans for Thanksgiving this week?  We are spending the holiday with my husband’s family and I could not be more excited.  I’m looking forward to cold weather, spending time with family and my best friend, and watching James explore new places!

As Thanksgiving approaches, I’ve been reflecting a lot on last year’s holiday season.  It was my first year as a mom and James was just a newborn (two months old at Thanksgiving) and honestly, parts of it were really tough.

I love the holidays and LOVE traditions.  There is a running joke in my family that they have to be careful because if they do anything twice, I will insist it is a tradition and must be done forever.  This is not far from the truth.

When I was hoping to get pregnant, and the whole year I was expecting James, I would often drift off to sleep at night imagining Christmas with a baby.  I’ve always wanted to be a mom and it always seemed like the holidays would be extra magical with little ones.  And they are.  But they’re also a lot harder.

We had Thanksgiving at our house last year, though we did not really host, as my family brought almost all of the food.  It was pretty much the easiest set up we could have, but it was still hard.  It was hard to fit in cooking the few things I’d said I would make.  It was hard when at the end of the day, James was inconsolable during dinner and wanted only me.

(I later read it is not considered safe to let babies sleep in boppy loungers, but I did not know that at the time)

For Christmas, we drove to my parents’ house, which is only about a three hour drive from us.  At that point, James was three months old and I think he was taking four naps per day.  He also took a LONG time to nurse as an infant, often at least an hour.  I used to use an App to track when he ate and I remember it often being 11-12 hours total nursing time at the end of the day.

Needless to say, that made it hard to fit in all of the Christmas traditions I love.

On Christmas Day, my husband offered to help James fall asleep for all of his naptimes, and that was seriously the best Christmas present I ever received.  Now he (usually) falls asleep peacefully with no fuss, but that was certainly not the case back then!

Especially in a new place and especially when it was not me putting him down for his nap, there was a lot of crying and a lot of time spent consoling.  I was so grateful to my husband for offering to cover nap time, since I was still spending hours upstairs feeding the little guy (yes, I could have just fed him with my family there, but I’m a really private person and wasn’t comfortable with that).

Even with all of the help from my family and husband, it was sort of a hard day (though also a great one in many ways).  I know I could have done a few things differently though, to make it even better.

1. Ask for help!

Not asking for help when I need it is definitely one of my biggest weaknesses (anyone else?  Yeah, I thought so).  It is a good thing my husband is literally the most helpful person on the planet, otherwise I’d be screwed.  Still, asking for help would make both of our lives easier, and is something I’m constantly working on.

2. Have realistic expectations

Even though I was SO excited and thankful to have a new baby, I had trouble letting go of how I pictured the holidays.  I think I’ve gotten a lot better over the past year about going into to things with fewer expectations and being a little more flexible (not natural to me).

3. Set the plan

I was afraid for a while to speak up and tell people what plan / timing would work best for us with a baby.  The thing is, I sort of hate being in charge, but I was the one who knew his nap schedule the best and should have spoken up more when it came to planning things.

All of that said, I have some of the very best memories from last year’s holidays.  I remember infant James staring up at the Christmas tree, completely mesmerized by the lights.  I remember him enjoying the little toys in his stocking, smiling and kicking his chubby legs.  I remember him in his little sweater vest at church, enamored with the lights and startled by the loud music.  I remember how very happy I was to have him, after spending the previous holiday season wishing for a baby so much.

I’m super excited to enjoy the holidays with a little toddler this year and to see what shenanigans he’ll get into.

Have a very happy Thanksgiving!

What’s the best gift you’ve every received?

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?


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  1. Wonderful pictures of little James! My husband’s family usually visits from out of state for the entire week of Thanksgiving which is wonderful but exhausting. This year, we are expecting a new niece the week after Thanksgiving so they are all staying home. It is going to be very different with just our small 4-person family! I think my biggest struggle right now is keeping realistic expectations for my toddler as far as doing activities he will actually enjoy and implementing traditions that are age-appropriate for him. But I love the holidays! My favorite memory last year is of my toddler at the tree pointing the ornament my sister sent him and saying “Whale, whale, whale!”

    1. Aww, that’s so sweet 🙂 I bet it will be nice to have a cozy holiday at home! I totally agree, it’s all about expectations and giving them time to do things they like (for us, this meant letting James play in the backyard for a lot of the Thanksgiving festivities this year). I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  2. I love this! I look back at this last year (and even now) and wish I would have just asked for help. I think it would have made a huge difference with anxiety in my life. Also, he is the CUTEST! They grow so fast!

    1. Thank you 🙂 They really do! It’s hard to believe he was just a little lump last year, and is running around and eating pie this year! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  3. Love this and happy Thanksgiving! Asking for help is very hard for me too. I remember our first round of holidays with a new baby/as a new Mom, it was wonderful but also included so many stressors that I had never even considered before.

  4. The holidays with kids are so hard but it honestly makes you appreciate them so much more. I love the picture of him staring at the tree! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

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