December is the season of holiday decorations, cookies, hot cocoa, glitter, sparkle, and holiday parties. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Unless you’re a co-sleeping, breastfeeding, not-ready-to-leave my-kid-yet mom. Then it’s transformed into the most stressful part of the year when the holiday party invitations start rolling in. Those of us who parent a little outside of the mainstream are pretty good at hiding it most of the time. After all, under normal circumstances no one would know that your 15 month old is waking up every 45 minutes and needs to be nursed back to sleep every time unless you told them.
Holiday parties threaten to blow this cover. A party that starts at eight o’clock? At night? If that’s when your baby expects to be snuggled up safely next to you, this scenario can create some serious anguish. What’s a mom to do?
It’s ok if you want to stay home with your baby.
If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re not excited about attending that holiday party and leaving your baby behind. That’s ok. Even if your baby will be “fine” if you leave them at home, the fact that you won’t be fine with it is a good enough reason to stay home. There will come a time when you’re ready to leave your child behind and have an adult social life again. You don’t need to rush it if you aren’t ready.
How to break the news.
If the party is hosted by a close friend, tell them the truth about what’s going on – that you’re not ready for an evening separation. I used to mention that I’d love to go to a mom’s night out/concert/other event together, but I’ve got a permanent sidekick right now who isn’t into it. A true friend will support you in doing what you believe is best for your child. On the other hand, for an acquaintance or coworker, a simple “I’m sorry I won’t be able to make it!” will suffice.
Don’t make a decision out of guilt.
Just as you shouldn’t let anyone guilt you into leaving your baby for a social obligation, you shouldn’t let anyone guilt you into staying home if that isn’t what your heart desires. Some people live for parties: getting dressed up, having adult conversations, and getting away from the drudgery of daily routines. If attending an annual holiday party is a highlight of your year, go and have a great time sans guilt. On the other hand, if holiday parties fill you with more dread than delight right now, no need to feel guilty about that either.
Happy mama, happy baby.
We’ve all heard the mantra that a happy mom makes for a happy baby. This phrase is often used to remind mothers that they should prioritize their own needs and wants and not sacrifice everything to motherhood. This is important. Like all people, we as mothers need to do the things we love. The things that feed our souls. The things that make us feel alive and connected to the world. For some mamas, that means an active social life and some time away from our little ones. For others, it means staying close to our babies until they have a little more time to grow. Embrace the motherhood that you find fulfilling in this season of life. If that means skipping the holiday parties this year, you don’t need anyone’s permission but your own.