There are several reasons why the holidays aren’t as enjoyable when you have postpartum depression.
In order to get through the holidays with postpartum depression, most women wear a smile for the sake of their families. After all, celebrating the holidays with our children are some of the happiest memories we’ll ever make. But it’s also one of the most stressful times, especially for mothers. They tend to take the lead when it comes to cooking, cleaning, shopping, decorating and wrapping gifts.
If the thought of getting through the holidays with postpartum depression is already stressing you out, check out some of our tips for making it through unharmed.
Start Planning in Advance
The holidays have a way of sneaking up on you. It’s as though you’ve just begun to cope with sending the kids back to school and then suddenly, there are Christmas carols playing on the radio. Feeling the pressure of time running out can have a big impact on our mental health. The best way to avoid the added stress of last minute shopping and decorating is to start planning for the holidays well in advance.
Get your calendar and write out all the important dates. Mark down family dinners, holiday parties, school or work functions, vacation time and anything else happening over the holidays. Once you know these dates, you can start planning meals, gifts, outfits, babysitters, etc. Keep your calendar in sight, even if it’s still a month or two away so that you can mentally prepare for what’s coming up.
Start your holiday shopping early. You always say that you’re going to be one of those people that starts shopping early but end up leaving it until the last minute anyway. Make a list of everyone you need to shop for and carry it around with you whenever you go out. You never know when you’ll stumble across something great. Check out online sales or discount sites like Zulily and sign up for e-mail lists at your favorite stores.
Having a head start is one way to survive the holidays with postpartum depression. Making lists and planning in advance can reduce the amount of stress, sleepless nights and anxiety.
Minimize the Holiday Traditions
Special family traditions around the holidays are what makes this time of the year so memorable. When you think back to holidays as a kid, what were some things that you remember doing every year? Was it waiting up for Santa, baking cookies with grandma or watching a favorite movie? These days, there are so many different traditions that you can start with your kids (especially on Pinterest).
But be careful which traditions you choose to start with your family and don’t try to adopt them all. If you’re not much of a chef, then skip the holiday baking. Or if crafting isn’t your thing, maybe buy a special ornament each year instead of trying to make one. And take it from me, the Elf on the Shelf will use up way too much of your time and energy. (But if you must follow through on this one, here are some adorable ideas using your home security camera!)
Consider sending virtual Christmas cards this year. Buying cards, signing them all and mailing them out can be time consuming and not something a mother with postpartum depression wants to do. But sending a paperless card is both easy and good for the environment. Paperless Post has a huge selection of beautiful holiday cards and invitations, plus you can store all your contact’s e-mail addresses for next year!
If you plan to survive the holidays with postpartum depression, it will mean downsizing the festivities a bit until your symptoms are under control. Having one or two special things that you do together over the holidays is more than enough to make it memorable. Besides, your children would much rather spend time laughing together as a family, than do a bunch of baking and crafts with a stressed out mom.
Set Aside Some “Me” Time
We can’t forget about self care during the holidays. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the spirit of giving that we forget about taking care of ourselves. If you want to make it through the holidays with postpartum depression, you need to take a break every once in a while.
With all the holiday events coming up, book yourself a salon day and get your hair and nails done. If it’s something you splurge on once a year, now is the time to do it. And don’t forget to put a massage or spa day on your wish list. Winter is also a great time to try out a thermotherapy spa.
With the change in seasons, many mothers with postpartum depression can get hit hard with the winter blues (a.k.a seasonal affective disorder). This makes self care even more important during these colder, shorter days. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep and exposure to sunlight to avoid falling deeper into a depressed state.
Find a Socializing Buddy
As much as you don’t want to do it, socializing is good for you. You may be dreading having to answer the annoying questions that everyone asks new moms, like “is the baby sleeping through the night” or “shouldn’t he be walking yet?” And the thought of having everyone fawning over your baby might be unbearable, even if they are family.
If you truly want to survive socializing over the holidays with postpartum depression, then what you need is a wing-man (or woman). Find your person, the one who is going to help you out through all the holiday socializing. It could be your spouse, sibling, a favorite cousin or friend. It should be someone that you trust and have a great connection with. Tell them what you are going through and ask them to help you out at family functions. If they notice someone annoying you, they can swoop in and save you.
You should never have to battle postpartum depression alone but that doesn’t mean you need to announce your condition at the dinner table. Having just one person who understands how hard this is for you can make it so much easier. And who knows, maybe you’ll even enjoy yourself!
Don’t Avoid the Fun
Celebrating the holidays with postpartum depression is no fun. But that doesn’t mean you should hide away or avoid the festivities. You might think that your presence will just bring everyone down or make others feel awkward and so you decline invitations or leave the party early.
Even if you don’t think you’re much fun, I assure you that others are glad you’re there. Your children, especially, are happier when you are there. So be in the pictures, sit around the fire and join in the dinner conversations, even if you have nothing to say. It’s hard to remember all the days when our kids are young. But you’ll remember the holidays, and so will they.