Christmas is the season of goodwill to all men but many new mums and mums-to-be can find it a challenge. Here are 6 tips to help ensure your ho-ho-ho vibe stays high-high-high.
Accept help & let go of the need to be in control
Christmas can be a really busy time with family and friends but take advantage of those extra hands. If you have relatives staying or are visiting family or friends accept the offers of help, even if that just means letting someone else soothe your baby whilst you go to the toilet with the door closed. It’s all about the small wins with a newborn but also admitting that it’s okay to veer off from your normal structured routine from time to time. You’ll both benefit from some flexibility (Gina Ford mums, I’m talking to you!). If you’ve been the primary carer to date, the holidays are a great time for your partner to step in and share more of the hands-on repetitive tasks and understand the intricacies of them. Expressing so a bottle can be given from time to time or a set feed is a great habit to get into and remember: different is ok. If you’re pregnant over Christmas, accept help here too. Take the time to put your feet up and let someone else “do” Christmas. Be selfish and remember: you’re growing a human. Don’t rush to be the designated driver or superwoman taking charge to show that nothing has changed. (I say this after the experience of supporting many mothers-to-be who have, only to feel completely exhausted and fed up post- festivities.) Pace yourself, learn to say no and let go.
Ditch the heels (if you haven’t already!)
Shoes are my passion. At 5ft 4 I am in 7th heaven as winter heels get higher each season but after a few nights of vertiginous heels I am back to my trainers and putting my osteopath on speed dial! Breaking my foot prior to Christmas a few years ago caused me to re-think my foot and back care. The trend for pregnant celebrities to balance their bump in Louboutin’s sends the message to mums-to-be that it’s ok to wear heels, but the truth is that the ligaments that control your back soften during pregnancy (to allow for your developing baby and impending birth) so they are at greater risk of being stretched and damaged. Heels alter your posture and put a strain on a weakened area, which can lead to mild or severe back pain. Add to this some additional life stress and this may exacerbate the pain you feel. Find glamorous alternatives to keep you feeling good.
Eliminate any negativity around you
Okay, I’ll admit, this can feel really really difficult during your baby or toddler’s “witching hour” but even then try and eliminate your own negative thoughts. “I’m doing it wrong.” You’re not. “They will never ever stop crying.” They will. “I’m losing my mind.” You’re not. Your mind function changes during pregnancy and early motherhood but this has numerous benefits when you understand it. (My new book around the leadership benefits of baby-brain will cover this in detail). Sometimes babies cry for no apparent reason but learn to trust your gut and intuition to know whether you are both just having an off day or need more support or a second opinion. Suffering from morning sickness, late into your pregnancy? Take heart, soon that sickness will transform into your beautiful baby but focus one day at a time. Connect with positive people to balance any negativity in your tired head and body or create a upbeat playlist that helps you to smile. Keep any entertaining (films, TV, social appointments) light and uplifting and try and get some fresh air, nothing beats a bit of negativity like a walk outside and re-connecting to the beauty of nature.
Have fun and celebrate love!
Remember that you and your partner were two before you became three, so nurture yourself and each other this season and have fun together! Being a new parent can be all consuming in a great way but if you can do something wild and crazy or passionate just for the two of you, do it! But it’s also okay if the best you can manage is a quick grunt at each other once a day to acknowledge you both still exist, as long as this doesn’t last indefinitely. Ask for babysitting support instead of gifts even if it’s so you can both just have a lie down and cuddle. Quality time together matters. Even 5 minutes or a hug can shift your energy, release frustrations and re-connect you back to a more loving feeling.
S-l-o-w d-o-w-n to keep your energy levels UP
Winter naps are blissful. If you are a new mum make the most of more pairs of hands and take an afternoon nap. Even if it’s just 10 minutes, put your feet up and zone out. A new mum I know recently told me that if she’s a passenger in a car she naps, even if it’s only for five minutes. So take advantage of any long Christmas drives and get sleeping! Hopefully the baby will sleep with the car motion too.
Nothing says “it’s Christmas” to me than a lazy day in my pjs under my cashmere blanket (a previous Christmas gift from my big sis) with a big tin of Quality Street, zoning out with my nieces and Elsa. Let.It.Go and breathe.
Take time out this festive season to do something that feels good for you!
Whilst Christmas is generally about family, sharing and caring, make sure your needs are also met. Be it yoga, meditation, listening to your favourite music, watching your favourite TV show, or taking a warm bath scented with seasonal essential oils – think frankincense, orange and sandalwood – yum! Of course for those with a brand new baby or without a partner, finding the time for a bath can feel like an impossible task, so maybe just stick to having your favourite Christmas film on in the background or listening to a good spotify playlist whilst you care for your baby. Consider small wins daily vs. a big treat. Putting a drop of an essential oil onto your finger tips, like mandarin, rubbing them together and inhaling deeply with your hands clasped around your nose can be an instant mood lifter; small gestures can make a big difference. I have a Christmas Eve ritual of wrapping all my presents with a classic Christmas movie on in the background and a cheeky martini – although this year have been mainly teetotal so am looking for a non-alcoholic alternative! I use this “time out” to prepare for the next few days and get into the Christmas spirit! Do what feels good for you so you have energy to give and receive.