It’s that time of year – holiday season. No matter what you are celebrating, it brings challenges. Beyond the question of when to put that (oh no! still partially frozen!) turkey in the oven, there are some even more fundamental questions to consider.

Holidays can bring a lot of activity, a lot of demands. The Perfect Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa seems to lurk somewhere in our psyches. What I think is absolutely necessary may sound just crazy to you – but in my heart I know what must be done. It’s going to involve homemade, preferably decorated cookies. It may involve gingerbread houses (but not at my house ever again). It’s going to involve homemade Christmas ornaments and a real tree that we cut down ourselves.

And here I am with a new baby, the start of our new family, so we should start doing these things now to start our new traditions. Meanwhile, my mother expects me to come fulfill her holiday expectations. And my mother in law expects attendance at her holiday festivities. And my three best friends and I always go out for – well, you get the idea.

Where is your baby – and your heart and soul and sanity — in all of this?

Take a moment to sit down – by yourself or with your partner – with your holiday calendar and a paper and pen. Ask yourself – what’s on my To-Do list for this holiday? Start writing. Get every last bit. Mine would look something like this:

  • NYC Bus Trip
  • Buy gifts (we make a list – you can find a way to do this at http://www.flylady.net/i/pdf/hoj_coj.pdf   – look about 55% of the way down the pdf. If you’re feeling totally overwhelmed this whole “control journal” can be very useful, but remember change is always a work in progress!
  • Wrap & send gifts to Alaska for family there, Wrap & send gifts to Chicago for family there, Wrap gifts for family and friends here
  • Make cookies
    • Gingerbread
    • Kolacky
    • Snickerdoodles
  • Make pierogi and white mushroom borscht
  • Write and host Christmas Eve candlelight service at church
  • Make a special Christmas breakfast for our little family
  • Host family and friends for Christmas dinner

You get the idea. I haven’t even gotten to Christmas decorating yet. And David’s stuff isn’t on there yet either.

Now take a good hard look at that list. What are the most important things on that list? If I had a new baby, I would probably ask family to bring the pierogi. (I don’t think we would do Mrs T’s….but this is a big project and I might need a lot of holiday music and do it in stages.)

What are the things on this list that truly feed your soul? What are the things that will make you crazy? What are the things that you can do “good enough” for this year? (You can do it all – but you can’t do it all at once.)

Kathy Kendall-Tackett, author and researcher and breastfeeding advocate, has a thing or two to say about our tendency to try to do it all. She suggests it’s a terrible throwback to the 1970’s, when we thought the ultimate goal for our lives was going to be “bring home the bacon, fry it in a pan, and make you feel like you’re one heck of a man.”

So when friends ask us how they can help, we often say we’re okay. We don’t need anything. And we are sad and alone at home, wondering how to get up the energy to make dinner when we’re already feeding the baby 24 hours a day. Think about this….if a friend asked you to help, wouldn’t you be thrilled? And beyond that we know that helping others is good for us:

  • We get a dopamine release – which makes us feel joy
  • Our endorphin levels go up – a natural high
  • Improves our immune systems, helping us fight off infections

So you are helping your friends and family to be happier and healthier when you let them help you.

Speaking of healthy – how is your breastfeeding relationship doing in the middle of all this? That’s the topic of our next post!