While the holidays should be an enjoyable time, we all know far too well that they can also be very stressful. And as with many other things, that stress can be exacerbated by being a first-time parent.
This year was my daughter’s first Christmas. With her 1st birthday only a few days after Christmas, and her mobility skills growing every day, I had no idea what to expect. Would she be a delight, soaking in all the sights and sounds of the season? Or would she be a terror, ripping down decorations and leaving a path of nearly-toddler terror? Since my only insights were from stories of insanity passed down by other moms, I braced myself for the worst.
Well friends, I am here to shed some positive light on our reality in regards to a few specific items that had me especially nervous this holiday season. I am happy to report that we escaped, relatively unscathed, and are actually looking forward to what the next round of holidays has in store for us.
Reality #1: Babies do not need lots of presents. My intuition always told me this was the case, but my experience has now proved it to be true. My daughter would open a gift and either a) want to play with it right away, or b) be more interested in the wrapping paper/box, therefore making it nearly impossible to move on to her opening another gift. And this process only exists if your baby is in fact closer to toddler age, rather than newborn. The younger the baby, the less involvement they will be able to have. It is because of the innocent and selfless demeanor of babies that I am so glad there were only a handful of gifts under the tree for my daughter this year. There is enough time for her “I want” stage to blossom later in life.
Reality #2: Babies are not secretly plotting to destroy your Christmas tree. This was my greatest fear. I envisioned my 11 month old, with the help of her scrappy stuffed animal friends, discussing a plan to bring my beloved tree, full of priceless heirloom ornaments, crashing to the ground. Not so. Not even close. Obviously, all babies are different, but it seems as long as you use common sense by keeping your tree out of reach (we put ours up off the ground on a small table), putting breakable ornaments up high (or maybe even just keeping them in the box for a few years), and just to be safe, anchoring your tree to the wall, there isn’t much harm a baby can do. A full-out toddler? Well, that’s a different story. Ask me again next year.
Reality #3: Your baby will sleep again if you let them stay up past bedtime. I once heard a mom say that she kept her son up late for his first Halloween and he never slept the same again. So naturally, I was fearful that allowing my daughter to stay up late on a holiday evening to be with friends or family would be a total disaster. But it was actually relatively painless, which is shocking, since my daughter is notorious for being an awful sleeper. So go ahead, spend that extra half hour at Grandma’s or Aunt Jane’s house; your baby is resilient and will recover just fine.
What lessons did you learn from your little ones this holiday season?