The holiday season can be the most wonderful—and stressful—time of the year. And what can be better than sharing that with your new bundle of joy? Parents know that having a newborn can turn your life upside down in a lot of ways. But take it from those who’ve been there, you can make it through the holidays. We asked a few parents we know how they keep it together during the most hectic season of the year.
Outsource What You Can
If you normally host a big holiday dinner, this might be the year to order in. When Jessica F. had her son right before Thanksgiving, she had no other option but to order dinner from a local supermarket. Know your limits and know when to call in a little extra help, whether it’s buying premade meals or asking family and friends to pitch in.
Bring Baby Along for the Ride
Once your little one is big enough to leave the house, she’s at the glorious age where you can strap her in a car seat or carrier and take her anywhere, including shopping. Jenny M. brought her new daughter to holiday parties and wore her baby in the carrier everywhere. “I kept her away from sick people I didn’t want near her, and she just slept when she wanted,” Jenny says. “Plus I could nurse her easily.”
Stash Supplies Everywhere
Taking a new baby on the road means you need to be ready for anything. “If you do bring your baby out, preparation is vital. Diaper bags, wipes, extra clothes and bottles need to be fully stocked and kept nearby at all times,” says Russell S., a father of two. “And sometimes it’s not the baby who needs extra clothes, it’s you.” Stash diapers and a wipes dispenser wherever you can (diaper bag, car, carry on) to make sure you always have supplies on hand.
Just Say No
If this all seems overwhelming, new babies can also be a great built-in excuse. No one can blame a new parent for being too tired for a night out on the town or an overwhelming gathering with lots of people. “Babies are the best excuses to skip those parties you don’t want to go to or you want to leave early from,” Jenny says.
Online shopping is a godsend for new parents, especially when it means avoiding overcrowded malls at the holidays. Buying gifts online helped Jessica survive her first holiday season as a new mom. Need gift ideas? Your friend who just had a baby surely needs coffee — lots of coffee. The 8-Cup French Press Coffee Maker with GroundsLifter makes a delicious brew, keeps it hot, and is super easy to clean (she has enough mess to deal with!). For new parents, a Mealtime Starter Set or Mealtime Essentials Set make ideal gifts that definitely come in handy.
Work as a Team
When it comes to navigating the holidays, it needs to be a team effort. Michelle T., a mom of one girl with another baby on the way, says, “Make sure you’re on the same page as your partner and you both talk through possibilities and agree before walking in somewhere.” For instance, she recommends discussing beforehand when you want to leave a party, and if one parent wants to stay late, know that plan in advance.
Time Your Flights
A new baby’s schedule can be unpredictable and, as a new parent, you’re still learning it. Paola H. is a mother of four and a pro at traveling with little ones. She tries to schedule travel around nap times and bed times. For long-haul flights, she recommends waiting to feed your baby until the flight is about to take off. This helps spread feedings throughout the day, helps little ones adjust to the elevation and soothes them to sleep.
Send Stuff Ahead
If you’re planning to visit family or friends, it helps to send bulky supplies for baby feedings and other daily needs to your destination ahead of time. Jill S. likes to order items she knows her baby will go through quickly like diapers, wipes and formula to her parents’ house across the country. She ships them there in advance so she knows they’ll be stocked on visits with grandma and grandpa.
Make the Best of It
Even if travel goes haywire and your baby’s schedule gets thrown off, it will all be okay. When it comes to traveling be flexible, says Lisa A., a mom of two girls. “You’ll realize you won’t really be able to stick to their schedule, so you just have to make the best of it.” Have older kids at home? Get more great tips on how to make your holidays stress-free.