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Life through the holidays can turn into harried, exhausting, stressful days- without a brand new baby. For some reason, the expectations remain for those who have recently birthed- you're still somehow supposed to show up at family gatherings, sweet potato casserole in hand, gifts perfectly wrapped for each family member.
Since you inevitably will run into the sister-friend/mother-in-law who will give you the stank eye for needing anything more than they needed (which they'll tell you was absolutely nothing)- give yourself you what they won't: permission. You have permission to not ignore your physical recovery, your mental health, your needs, and your family's limits. You have permission to start bucking every system that tries to force your tired body into anything that feels like too much. Permission to use the word "No" more than you use "Yes." Permisson to ignore the impossible demands that come with the holidays for everybody else. Permission to rest. Permission to have silent, holy, calm and bright nights- as many as you want, throughout the entire season and beyond.
Here are a few ways to protect and enjoy your sacred, peaceful holiday season.
1. Scale back
Life- especially around the holidays- can get so BIG. Feeling like you have to compete with Martha Stewart puts everyone in a bad mood. Take it really simple- in all areas of life.
2. Figure out family time first
Find one or two really special things you can do together and look forward to. Beyond that—Relax. Enjoy each other. First and foremost is bonding with your immediate family and this new member of it. Give yourselves plenty of time and space in the calendar. If that means suspending commitments through the holidays, so be it. Make sure you and your people get the time you need together FIRST. Have a list of fun family things to do in case you need something to do last minute.
3. Go easy on long-term commitments
When planning the season, doing 7,000 things per family member isn’t the best choice for peace and relaxation. Suspend involvement in as many activities as possible throughout the holiday months. If that's not possible, find out how many (rehearsals/practices/games/etc) can be missed before the earth is shaken to its foundations, and take all of them. Just to relax with your family.
4. Say no a lot
You don’t have to attend any parties, events, or gatherings, no matter the tradition or how it looks. Don't host-and if for some reason you absolutely must, have everyone else do and bring ALL the things. Even if you enjoy, for example making the whole meal yourself, please trust me here: what sounds like a good plan months out can end up an emotional wrecking ball. Just say no.
5. Plan your downtime
Make it a priority. If you don’t plan it, it will absolutely get taken. Calendar in your naps, quiet time, evenings off with just your family. And when someone asks about that timeframe, you can say "I already have plans." Because you definitely do.
6. Don’t stress about THE BABY WEIGHT
Eat what you like. Eat what's available. Poundage is not a thing right now. Health is, so if you absolutely can't eat your favorites, feel free to invest in things that mimic your favorites, so you too can enjoy the holiday and not feel like you're eating sadness while everyone else is eating peppermint coated joy.
7. Don’t stress about making other people happy
Anyone who puts undue pressure on you... will get over it. When you learn to say no- even to things that are tradition or expectations or *gasp* already set plans-- the world will hold up. Really. You need to do what's healthy and best for you and your family. Life will carry on.
8. Purge THE EXCESS
Cleaning out an area of life can be cathartic, giving order and purpose. The best type of postpartum purge is one that doesn’t overwhelm in “project” fashion. For example: Over the next week, clean out your wardrobe. Have a box that stays in your closet, and whenever you happen to be in there, put a few more rarely-used items in the box. End of the week: bring that box to the Salvation Army or a local shelter (or have someone else do it!) and enjoy your refined wardrobe and refreshed space.
9. Ease decision fatigue
From clothing choices to dinner choices and everything in between, the more you can streamline decisions the better. Create a holiday meal plan, decide on a few specific holiday events and bow out of the rest, get everyone the same small gift this year, eat the same big pot of whatever a few times a week. The fewer decisions, the better.
10. Don't go all out
The entire train display with village does not need to come out this year. The outside of the house doesn't need to be covered in lights, and no one actually needs a Christmas photo of your family to hang on their fridge for a few weeks. Overdoing it is just not a thing. Pick and choose a few items from the Christmas bins, put them up, and call it a day.
11. Be quiet
Taking time out for meditation, quiet time, or prayer can be soothing and calming in a chaotic and busy season. Give yourself five minutes a day to clear your mind, center your thoughts, and take a few deep, quiet breaths.
12. Don’t wait to get the help you need
If you find yourself with depressive thoughts, feelings, or with a major life crisis that inspires grief on top of your postpartum season, don’t wait until it gets worse to get help. Line up the kind of support that you need to thrive. Do it right away- there is no shame in staving off a dark season by being proactive. And if you can’t-talk to someone (a friend, relative, spouse) who will help you get help.
How do you protect your time through the holidays?
Tell us in the comments below!