The holidays are a stressful time of year for many people (especially women who always seem to end up doing the brunt of the cooking and cleaning for holiday guests!). Add in a baby and the holidays can seem overwhelming. Maybe you are worried about how you will juggle entertaining guests and caring for your infant or maybe you are worried about being able to afford gifts for everyone on your list. Did you know that stress not only causes anxiety and tension in the family but can also lower your milk supply? Plan ahead, be organized, and stress less which means you will produce more milk for baby!
A teacher friend of mine used to have a poster in her classroom that listed the “7 P’s” it read “Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.” I have to admit, the first time that I read the poster, I laughed out loud. The phrase is catchy and a bit amusing but actually pretty spot on. The more organized that you are and the better that you plan ahead… the less stress you are likely to feel. Unless you are someone who does their best work under pressure… your final result will be much better than if you tried to throw something together at the last second (especially in the new mom sleep deprived state!)
Why is stress for a nursing mom worse than for any other woman?
Stress affects everyone differently and obviously it isn’t good for anyone. However, stress is particularly undesirable for a nursing mom because it can cause a drop in milk supply. A drop in milk supply can cause stress in itself which can exacerbate the problem and a vicious cycle is created that can be difficult to break. That said, eliminating all stress from the life of a nursing mom is impossible. Knowing strategies to minimize stress can help though and being aware of the problem can help you plan ahead to avoid it. I have provided three tips that I use to manage stress below but click the links here and here for additional strategies and information.
3 Tips to plan ahead for the holidays and avoid some stress:
1. Find a planning system that works for you.
If you refer back to our “P’s” we know that “proper prior planning” is a must. We all have an organizational system that works best. Find what yours is and put it to work. I personally use a combination of paper and electronic tools. My first line of defense is my planner. I keep a paper one because I like to be able to hold it, easily see past and future days/months, and because I like the satisfaction of being able to physically cross things off of my to-do list. I am very particular about what kind of planner I buy and it often takes me a long time to find the perfect one. I like it to be small enough to fit into my purse but big enough to have plenty of space to jot notes every day. I also like it to have monthly calendar pages as well as the daily pages. I personally hate planners that have times printed in them. Instead I prefer to just have blank printed lines that I can create my own lists reminders on. Once I find a planner that fits my needs, I add all of our family birthdays and important yearly milestones to it. I actually find this fun and I use colored pens to add a little bit of pizzazz. It’s a project that I look forward to.
I also use an app called Any Do. I use the free version and you can find more info about it here or in the app store. It’s basically a list making application but it lets me make on going to-do lists and I can even transfer line items between lists. It has a feature which allows you to cross things off with your finger when you complete them which I find is almost as satisfying as crossing it off on paper. As an added bonus, it works with my Amazon Echo which means that I can tell Alexa (the amazon version of Siri) to add something to my shopping list and it automatically gets added to my list on the app. (To find out more about the Echo click here!) My husband and I started using Any Do and Alexa to create our grocery lists each week. When we run out of something while cooking we ask Alexa to add it to our shopping list and when I am in the store I pull our list up on my phone. Then, while shopping, I check items off as I put them in my cart. The lists also show up in the Amazon Alexa app. Sometimes I use the list there because it gives me the option to search for items on amazon which is a handy shopping tool. The Alexa app and Any Do apps sync to each other as long as it’s set up properly so it’s nice to have a choice of which tool to use depending on what I’m trying to do or if I’m shopping online or in a store.
2. Plan ahead for holiday sending, set a budget, and help others by setting up an amazon wish list
If you are worried about holiday spending, I find it helpful to set a budget ahead of time in regards to how much you are willing to spend on expenses such as travel or gifts. Each year before Thanksgiving my husband and I discuss and set a budget for Christmas gifts and decide how much we think is appropriate to spend on each person on our list. We also shop Black Friday to help us stretch our gift budget but you can also find deals online and in stores after Black Friday if you shop smart (I realize that you will be reading this blog in December.) I have to admit, I love Amazon. If you are like me you do a lot of product research on Amazon before going to the store and buying. I often set up a “shopping list” to keep track of prices and I love how it tells you how prices have changed since you added the item to the list. For example, an item that I added to my shopping list a few months ago recently said that the price had dropped $2 since I added it. It even tells you the percentage and what the price was when you originally added it – in this case the $2 was 14%!
We also use the “wish list” feature on Amazon to give relatives ideas on what kind of gifts we think our son would enjoy. Instead of having to keep track of which ideas we give to each relative we just make one list and then send it to anyone who asks. You can choose to be notified or not when someone purchases something off the list and either way Amazon will notify you if you attempt to purchase something that has already been purchased. I find that this has cut down on a lot of “gift idea” stress and also on gifts that we dislike or can’t use! That said, people often stray from the list and we encourage them to buy places other than just Amazon to get the best deal but at least it gives shoppers a place to start.
3. Delegate household tasks to others – don’t try to do everything yourself
If you are anything like me you are probably prone to trying to do everything yourself. One of the things that I have struggled with as a mom is asking for help and accepting help even if things are not done exactly the way that I would have done them. If you haven’t already figured it out, I tend to have a type A personality. I like things done a certain way and I like to feel in control of life. I get frustrated easily when my husband doesn’t do things quite as neatly as I would have done them or if he doesn’t clean things as well as I would have. However, I found that I had to start loosening some of my expectations because I just couldn’t do it all – and believe me – I tried! The result was not pretty and only led to everyone being frustrated, unhappy, and I was exhausted. If someone offers to help cook a holiday meal or clean the house/do a load of laundry; accept their help. Easier said than done but try to remember what the season is all about – spending time with those that you love – not having a picture perfect magazine worthy holiday.
Put the “7 P’s” into action! Remember: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance (and don’t forget to have fun and enjoy yourself while you are at it.) Cheers!