Rethinking Priorities During the Holiday Season

Your newly adopted baby needs a safe, stable environment in order to develop trust and bond. Here are ways to keep the chaos of the holidays at bay.

Holidays with your new baby will be a joy

Let’s face it: The holidays are a hectic time. But add a newly adopted infant or toddler to the mix, and you have the potential for a collective family meltdown. With a little planning, pruning, and cooperation from others, though, it’s possible to meet the demands of your pint-sized addition (and of other family members) and get through the season intact.

Reset Your Priorities

All babies — especially those who’ve been adopted — need a safe, stable home environment in order to develop trust, form healthy attachments, and adjust to the family.

But during the holidays, our home lives (and routines) get tossed about as we try to fit shopping excursions, social events, baking marathons, and decorating sprees into our days. What’s more, we’re expected to love the holidays and be happy throughout the season, especially if we’re new parents, with longed-for babies. This pressure can turn holiday pleasure into stress.

How to cope? The first thing is to set new priorities. Make a list of what you’d ideally like to do during your first holidays with your child — have pictures taken with Santa, decorate a tree, buy gifts for each night of Hanukkah, bake cookies, and so on.

Now that you have a baby to tend to, rethink your expectations for the holidays. (Consider, too, if your child was adopted internationally, that you might want to add a new tradition to honor his country of origin. Or, if he was adopted domestically, you might add one to honor his birth parents.)

Remember that some of the holiday activities you cherish most can simply be modified, not forsaken. Here’s how.

Party less hearty.

If you’re going to a holiday party, stop by when it fits your child’s eating and sleeping schedules. Stay only as long as it feels comfortable. Let friends and relatives meet the new baby while you hold her in your arms.

Delegate a few tasks.

When people offer to lend a hand, ask them if they’ll do some baking, decorating, shopping, cleaning, or laundry for you. With their help, you can have some quiet time to bond with your baby — or take a nap!

Simplify gift-giving.

If you don’t have a lot of time for shopping, give friends and relatives a framed family photo — starring your new addition. For your baby, just a couple of fun, special gifts will do. Chances are, a warm bottle of formula or milk, a small cup of Cheerios, a box of crinkly wrapping paper — and lots of love — will be all you’ll need for a jolly holiday morning.

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