In the wake of Christmas insanity – after all the wrapping and boxes have been cleared away, the guests have packed it up, and the street sweepers have moved in to deal with the messy present fallout – a feeling of blueness can settle in.
It’s the post-Christmas letdown that gets a person thinking in less commercial and material ways. One starts to enjoy the simple, quiet, moments with their family and friends. The hopeful look ahead to a new year begins and, to put it simply: the true meaning of the holidays is revealed to us.
Connection. Time. Peace. Just “being.”
In this post-Christmas period the things we really wanted over the holidays become much clearer. As a new mom, this perspective is especially raw and real because of how baby-tunnel-visioned your life has become.
So, to all of the organized partners who want to get a jumpstart on present-planning for next year – or want to give one last REALLY special present before the new year - here are the five things that new moms REALLY wanted for Christmas:
This seems like an obvious one – or at least it should. New moms want, need, crave, desire, obsess about, and dream up wild fantasies about sleep. So, make it happen, already. Plan ahead and give your partner a complete night’s sleep at home, or even in a nearby hotel. If creating this special experience at home make it a truly uninterrupted experience for her – complete with soothing bubble bath and a mint on her pillow. If baby/mom aren’t yet ready for that many hours apart, give her a gift card outlining this amazing night-to-come. Even the anticipation of her special slumber will keep her going on those long cluster-feeding-filled nights.
“The days are long, but the years are short” sums up the life of a new mom. The minutes and seconds can often seem long, too! New moms want time:
Time for themselves
Time for their baby
Time for their old lives
Time for their partners
Planning a present or experience that helps give or enhance their precious time is going to be exactly what they need and want. So, how can you translate “time” into a present?
Time for herself: A pedicure or massage or the ability to do something physical like a Belly Bootcamp class are great choices.
Time for their baby: A newborn photo-shoot or special class, like infant massage, frees up bonding time for mom and baby. While new moms might be spending lots of time with their baby, sometimes not enough of it feels like a true bonding experience. Caring and feeding, diapering and washing may not be allowing for those "special" moments, so providing some designated bonding time between mum and babe is a winning present.
Time for their old lives: New moms often feel a loss of self, and what defined them as a person before they had babies. Knowing your partner means you’ll know what activity/present will help them remember that they’re still the same special and talented woman they have always been. For example, give tickets to a cool lecture to the academic, and theatre tickets to the entertainment expert.
Time for their partners: New moms can often struggle under a burden of guilt (“I’m not seeing enough of my friends, taking my vitamins regularly, reading to my baby enough…”), and one of those pressure points can be that they aren’t making time for their relationship. Believe it or not they want to spend time with YOU, too. Plan a special experience that lets you talk to each other for 15 minutes about topics that don’t include poop, puke, pumping milk, or swaddles.
My first postpartum experience was a tough one. Postpartum depression is an ugly experience – but thankfully it’s becoming more acceptable to talk about PPD. While there are lots of reasons that I didn’t have the same experience after my second baby was born there is one present that my husband made for me which helped give me incredible perspective:
My husband prepared an advent-style Christmas countdown calendar with a new message of love and support on each of the pages. Why was this important to me in those tough, early, postpartum days? It gave me perspective on how quickly the rough days would pass (“Only 15 days until Christmas, and some additional parental support at home? I can totally do this!”), and it have me perspective that I had someone out there who was cheering me on. Being loved is a powerful inoculation, and being told that you’re loved is even more potent.
Achieving the gift of some honest-to-goodness silence one is easy to accomplish. All you need to do is to give your partner a long, hot, quiet, bath. As a bonus, make her an awesome tea or glass of sparkling wine to bring into the bathroom. Here is the key to gifting success with this one: Do not interrupt unless the baby is in dire need of something you can't provide (READ: A nipple that gives milk.) Do not knock to ask questions. DO NOT KNOCK.
You may ask yourself "How do moms seem to know how to make their babes happy and quiet?" They figure it out through hardcore trial and error. You can do that, right? Do. Not. Knock. Peace and quiet is a symphony to the ears of a new mom.
Being a new mom is a tough gig, and rarely one that a person is fully prepared for. The mothering demands are physical, emotional, spiritual, and twenty-four hours a day. And, if you have more than one wee’un, then motherly demands increase by multiples. Taking the time to acknowledge the unrelenting devotion that your partner has to your baby and to the life you are building together will mean more than any present you can buy. On many days, new moms feel more like Mr. Bean than a sexy superhero that can handle it all with style and sass. By just taking a moment to meaningfully say “You are a superwoman” is what every new mom needs to hear.
Reminding the woman you love that she’s an incredible mom is better than any physical Christmas present. So, start planning for next year now or – even better – give a late present that will remind both of you what this time of year is all about:
Connection. Time. Peace, and just “being.” New moms are, most definitely, on the nice list.