The following advice from savvy moms and experts can help you make it through the holidays with ease.
Merely taking a shower doesn’t qualify. Go for a walk, soak in a tub or take 10 minutes to do yoga. Or go whole hog, if you can: “I went to a day spa for a full massage and spent some time relaxing in the steam room, sauna and hot tub,” Igoe says.
Taking care of yourself can be as simple as letting family or friends help you. “I just sat in my rocking chair with my baby in my lap and allowed myself to be a queen,” says Veronica Gotway, a 28-year-old office manager from Dallas who arrived home from the hospital two days before Christmas with her second child, now 3. “My mother and mother-in-law did all of the cooking and cleaning for Christmas. All I had to worry about was feeding the baby every two hours.”
Ask For What You Need
In lieu of typical new-baby or holiday gifts (do you really want another fruitcake?), be creative and consider asking for items or services that you really need. “I liked to tell people that their entry fee for seeing our new baby was a casserole,” says Robert Sears, M.D., a pediatrician in San Clemente, Calif., and father of three.
When people ask if they can do anything, say yes, and be specific. “A co-worker hired a cleaning woman to come over just before Christmas to clean our house,’’ says Chris Schellpfeffer, 36, an account supervisor who lives in Sun Prairie, Wis., with her husband and 1-year-old son.
Gifts that encourage self-indulgence can be particularly helpful. “My husband bought me one of those foot baths so I could soak my feet at night after taking care of the baby all day,” Gotway says.
If you must travel with your new baby, it will surely go more smoothly if you prepare in advance. Bring diapers, a first-aid kit and an extra change of clothes for your baby and yourself. If you’re flying, carrying the baby in a front carrier or sling will leave your hands free to deal with a carry-on bag and tickets.
If traveling by car, you may want to bring a hand-held breast pump to squirrel away milk in the cooler for those times when you need to feed the baby with a bottle. For instance, you should never take your baby out of his car seat and nurse while the car is moving; this is extremely unsafe. Sit next to him and give him a bottle instead.
Keep Your Baby Healthy
“Taking a baby outside during the winter will not make him sick,” Sears says. “Sick people will make him sick.” This is why it’s a good idea to avoid crowded, closed-in places.
Sears also advises parents to ask people to wash their hands before holding the baby. And keep the baby away from sick kids, if possible. “Don’t get close to toddlers with runny noses,” he says.
While individual pediatricians may differ regarding whether to keep a newborn at home—and, if so, for how long—the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents do take their babies out for fresh air, weather permitting, during the first month.