Ahhh the Holidays. Family dinners, decorations, lights, nostalgia, gifts, hot cocoa, fires, Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" on repeat and...family. Depending on your family dynamic, this could be a word that gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling; OR it could make your chest suddenly feel tight and anxious. Perhaps it's a combination of both. Every family dynamic has so many layers and variables that contribute to your own personal feelings on the word. Throw in family in different locations and that dynamic gets a whole lot more complicated.
Maybe, this year you have your first baby! Yay! How exciting. Maybe you just had your second or your fifth. No matter what, you may be feeling the pressure to travel to family in a different location for the Holidays. You want your kids to have the best memories. You want your family to get quality time with them, they don't typically get because of the distance. You want the photos, the smiles, everything. But...you have your own family now. So how exactly can this work?
If you have traveled with young kids before like I have, this scenario will feel WAY too familiar to you. Luggage: yours, your spouses and a separate one (at least) for baby. The carry on is full of granola bars, baby food pouches, diapers, wipes, the brand new toys you've been avoiding letting your baby see until this EXACT moment so that the novelty of it isn't gone before you ever make it on the dang plane, books, the tablet you swore you'd never let your child watch, anything else you may need and...tears. So many tears. HOW is this so hard? This is all before mentioning the baby carrier, the stroller you had to fold up and pray wouldn't get damaged, car seat and who knows what else.
Are you stressed? I just tangibly felt some of our traveling nightmares and the anxiety it caused from typing this. There's a huge process to travel. Now let's talk about what might happen when you arrive at your destination. Perhaps you are staying in a hotel. Perhaps your family has convinced you to stay with them and that they would help with the kids. Where will everyone sleep? Does your baby need a separate space? Blackout curtains? How do your kids handle a change in routine. Maybe you are breastfeeding and your family makes jokes that may be lighthearted, but trigger your Postpartum anxiety you were PRAYING wouldn't come out on this trip. No one is safe. The next person to tell you how to parent is going to get an earful. Breathe...breathe...remember why you're here.
You're here because you are blessed to have people in your life who care. Who would do anything for your kids, or you wouldn't get on that plane if that weren't the case. You are here to start traditions, to get the possible last photo with your elderly relative and just try to be normal for once. Besides...maybe they will help with the kids. MAYBE you can take a nap and finally get uninterrupted sleep. If you're a new parent, confidence in your plans and decisions may take time.
If you are a mother who has an excellent relationship with your family and can't wait to show off your sweet little squish to them this year, I am so glad. Unfortunately...there are many women who don't and this time of year causes some serious conflict, doubt and guilt.
So hear me moms...YOU CAN SAY NO. You can. You can start your own traditions. This doesn't mean your family members are cut out. It doesn't mean you'll never go back home for the Holidays ever again. Heck, maybe they should come to you this year! But what it does mean is that for ONE year, you can make the choice to not travel, which will NOT dictate what your plans may be the following year or any year after that for that matter.
Your kids are loved. They will have amazing memories with you and whomever you choose to be around this year.
It's time we start giving moms their confidence and power back to make the decisions for her children that she sees fit, without all of the mom shaming or guilt.
Wherever you will be this season, Happy Holidays from The Omaha Baby Nest.