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.
Here's a dirty little secret: I don't own a mop and bucket. I never have and I never will.
You shouldn't own them, either, and Jamie Lee Curtis would back me up on that. The actress has been profiled in magazines and on television as a modern domestic diva, who has meticulous organizing routines that include a flat-frozen soup filing system.
She means business when it comes to running a household. She's all about:
On being organized, she also says: "If the external life is super-organized, but the internal life is a mess, then everything is completely out of balance, and your life just looks good." Her common sense on an organized life is the most refreshing, non-Martha, perspective I've heard yet.
In a nutshell: I want to be Jamie Lee Curtis.
So, her gravitas when it comes to an organized life is just one of the many reasons I was sold on her "no mops" floor-washing routine. I first saw Jamie Lee demonstrate her floor skating routine on the Nate Berkus Show several years ago, and I was smitten. Not only was she demonstrating a time-effective way of cleaning the floor, she made cleaning look ridiculously fun, too.
Here's how you do it:
*scrunge: a scrubby-like texture that grips grime, grease, and goo on your floors. No super soft cloths, svp.
Adding Jamie Lee's floor skating cleaning technique to your domestic arsenal is a simple tweak, that will make a load of difference to the way you feel about washing your floor. In fact, I'm having some friends over for lunch today and I am already looking forward to this part of the post-lunch cleanup. My floor skating playlist is queued up, and my white cloths and vinegar are at the ready.
And, if you need a little Jamie Lee inspiration to kick-start your adoration for her perspective on tackling domestic drudgery she has said:
"There's nothing but media telling us we're all supposed to be great cooks, have great style, be great in bed, be the best mothers, speak seven languages, and be able to understand derivatives. And we don't really have women we're modeling after, so we're all looking for how to do this."
If "how to do this" means cleaning my floor while saving time, staying active, and having fun, then count me among the trailblazers. Happy floor skating, fellow mop-haters!
There’s been a lot of talk about how to handle the big, fat, jolly issue of Santa’s existence in our house. My eldest daughter is two, and suddenly aware of the folklore that accompanies Christmas.
In the next few years I’ll be fielding the “is that weird, beardy, dude who watches me sleep real?” questions. In the meantime, I have to grapple with a much more practical problem: where do I hide the presents?
Here are eight ways to hide presents and stop the snooping:
Using the vertically challenged thing against your kids is a great way to hide presents when they are small. The tops of kitchen counters, armoires, and other tall shelving is a great way to keep gifts out of sight. My living room baskets are high enough that I can climb on the couch to fill them with stocking stuffers (but not so high that I need a stool to reach them (subtle hiding is the name of the game, where possible).
Send the presents to Granny’s house! Family, friends, and neighbours' homes are a great present storage option, if they have the space. One drawback of this method is the lack of convenience for stashing and wrapping. However, putting gifts entirely out of harms way is a big winner if you have cunningly curious wee ones.
Unless you’re a big, organized, nerd like I was as a child, storage tubs are the best boring hiding place that no one thinks to look. Labelling your tubs with uninteresting descriptions like “old books”or “stuff” is an extra layer of insurance against prying eyes.
One (non-recommended) option is waiting until the last minute to shop. Use at your own risk. Wait! Please don’t use at all…Being disorganized for the holiday you can see coming since the day after Halloween is just plain lazy. I've said it before, and I will never stop: being fashionably late is like being "chicly rude" or "trendily selfish." You're an adult now, so this isn't an option.
Be real with your kids: “Snooping for the gifts means ruining the surprise and fun for yourself on Christmas morning. It ruins the fun for the gift-giver too!” This won't be a great option for my two-year-old (yet!), but could work well with older kids and the more mature adults in your life.
Wrap all presents immediately upon purchase! Anything that comes into the house is securely and lovingly wrapped, labelled, and placed tauntingly under the tree. We had to use this tactic with my father, who still takes gloaty-pride in feeling, smelling, touching, and licking each wrapped present to decipher its contents. I come by my present-hiding paranoia honestly...
Let people think they know where you hide the gifts.
"Oh! You found the present stash in my closet. Well, try not to look in there again..."
(Meanwhile, the real stash is elsewhere). If they think they’ve found the jackpot, they’ll quit snooping!
Using neat nooks like this oversized art is another way to go. Crazy props, like this weird head of iceberg lettuce, are a neat way to stealthfully stash Christmas presents. Or, these 10 kick-ass secret passage bookshelves might do the trick if your family are as relentless as mine. The one below from wifandhub.com is my fave:
No matter how you choose to hide the Christmas presents, don’t forget: lose the evidence! Unwrap the big stuff so its smaller to hide, and ditch those shopping bags.