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What To Expect for Your First Thanksgiving as a Mom

Dianna Graveman |15, November 2011


What To Expect for Your First Thanksgiving as a Mom

What a year! You've welcomed your new little one into the world and into your heart. Each occasion and anniversary and milestone in recent weeks or months has been monumental, simply by virtue of being the very first one you've enjoyed with your baby. Now that Thanksgiving approaches, you're looking forward to making new memories and celebrating new developments as a family. But chances are, you'll face some challenges, too, as days get busier and tensions rise the closer we get to the holidays.

Depending on how young your little one is, you may want to avoid hosting the Thanksgiving celebration at your own home, if possible. The stress of cooking and cleaning and simply having that many people in your house at one time can be overwhelming, especially with a newborn. If you've hosted a baptism or christening celebration in recent months, you're probably already worn out from preparing and hosting that gathering, too. If the grandparents or other family members are willing, let them take charge. Offer to bring a dish or two, but if they tell you not to worry about it this year, consider taking them up on it.

For some new parents, Thanksgiving may be the first occasion to introduce their child to extended family members who live out of town. You'll probably want everything to be perfect, and you'll want your child to look and behave perfectly, too. Try to avoid placing unrealistic expectations for the holiday on yourself or your child. You may feel let down afterwards, if you do. No matter how darling your little one looks in his or her holiday finery when you leave the house, mishaps and spit-ups will happen. If your child is already eating solids, be prepared: One mother reports you can always count on your baby grabbing stuffing with her hands and then grabbing her hair (or yours).

Most parents quickly realize when visiting family with the baby for the first time that he will be continuously cuddled or carried by someone throughout the day. In fact, one mom reports remembering family members grabbing her son when she arrived and leaving her and her spouse standing at the door. All of this commotion of course, will cause your baby to get pretty tired, and that exhaustion can last through the next few days--for both of you.

So much attention can be overwhelming, but try to realize that in advance and prepare yourself for how you'll handle possible situations. For instance, babies who have not yet experienced "real food" may find Grandma or Grandpa encouraging "just a taste" of mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. (Click here for homemade Thanksgiving baby food recipes).

Not everyone who handles your baby will have washed his hands or will let you know in advance that she is "a little under the weather." How will you handle this? What about younger children who ask to hold the baby, or parents who suggest you let their progeny take charge of the baby while you eat or relax? If you think you might not be comfortable with any of these scenarios, discuss with your spouse how you will politely respond. Preparation will help you handle each situation tactfully as it arises.

A favorite Thanksgiving tradition for many families is to invite each person at the dinner table to offer one thing he or she is thankful for. Of course, you are most thankful for your baby, and everyone will expect you to say so. Consider starting a spin-off tradition, by writing a letter to your baby about all of the little moments for which you are thankful that have happened since his or her birth. Save the letter in a special place, so you can add to it next year, and the next. You may want to consider binding the letters into a book, or entering the letters in a special journal. When your child is old enough, you will enjoy pulling "Mom and Dad's Thanksgiving Book" from the shelf and sharing your memories as part of your holiday tradition. And decades from now, when your children are grown, your Thanksgiving book will become one of your most cherished treasures.

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donna Nov 16, 2011 12:10:35 AM ET

Thanks for the helpful article. I love the suggestion about writing a thanksgiving letter to the baby.

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