It’s the holidays and your family wants to meet the new baby! The same new baby that was born just a couple weeks ago, or a few months ago, and you’ve only left the house a handful of times because diapers! milk! weather! carseat! baby sling! ahh!

You are tired, your body is healing, you have no clothing that actually fits properly, your boobs hurt either from nursing around the clock or from trying to get your milk supply down. The baby only wants to be held by you otherwise they make this terrible screeching sound that you never imagined could come from something so small and adorable.

It’s the holidays, you have family in town or you are being badgered via text, email and phone to “Please come to Grandma’s/ Auntie’s/Abuelos house, it won’t be the same without you guys! Plus we want to meet the baby!” Immediately you picture giant, putrid-colored blob-like germs jumping off your family members hands and face and onto your fresh new defenseless baby. Ahhh!

Deep breath. Here are five ways to help you navigate the holiday hugging, mingling, traveling and celebrating that is inevitable even with the most understanding and accommodating families.

  1. Be honest with yourself. Just because you’ve always gone to so-and-so’s house for holiday celebrations does not mean you need to continue to do so; or at the very least, you get a free pass to skip this time. The first few months following the birth of your baby is a time of serious adjustment and transition. When holiday celebrations happen to fall within that time frame, take extra care to allow yourself the time and space to adjust.

    yes there’s an infant under there

    2. Wear that baby! If you find yourself in crowd of family either because you want to be there or they’ve come to you unannounced, grab your nearest, most comfy baby carrier and wear that baby! If your body is still healing and you’re not able to wear the baby, have your partner wear the baby. That way great aunt Marilyn and your 8 year old twin nephews can’t get close enough to the baby to sneeze on them or smother them with kisses.

    3. Excuse yourself – as many times as necessary for your sanity. The thing about newborns is that they need everything done for them. The thing about family gatherings is that they can be overwhelming. Perfect! You have the most adorable excuse to hide in a guest bedroom for a bit or leave the party early. Feel free to use any or all of these examples:

    • Baby needs to eat and gets distracted with so much noise, we’ll be back in a bit!
    • Baby had a blowout, gotta change the whole outfit, mind if I use the guest bedroom? Thanks!
    • Baby needs some quiet to take a nap, I’ll come back out if I can.
    • We had a rough night and need to head to bed early today, lovely to see you! Talk soon!
    • See number 1: just leave if you need to leave, no excuse necessary.

    4. Skip hosting in your home this time. If you’ve always been the one to host holiday parties and it just won’t be the same if you don’t, remember this: nothing will ever be the same as before having a baby. It will be better, or more challenging, or slightly different, or all of the above, but look at this chapter of your life as more of a new book in a trilogy or series. Same characters, some new ones, different settings, different adventures. Attend other’s parties if you must, but avoid festivities in your own home this time around so that you always have a place to escape to for peace and quiet if you need it. That way you don’t have to worry about getting guests to leave at a specific time and all the aftermath clean up. Host a post holiday party in a few months, or start a new tradition where your would-be guests meet you at a holiday event in the city, there are so manyCelebrate anywhere that allows you the freedom to step out when necessary.

    5. Set boundaries, unapologetically. You know yourself best; you know your baby best. Set realistic boundaries for yourself and your family and stick to them. Extended family often have lots of opinions and can be incredibly vocal about them, or passive aggressive, either way, you get the message loud and clear. At this point in your life, your priorities are you, your partner, your baby and your sanity.