It's that time of year again! Welcome to the holiday season. Our work as counselors and family therapists gives us a unique perspective on this time of year. The obvious stress of extra activities time spent with family can be particularly hard on a mom with a new baby. Additionally, there are often new challenges, such as how to transition from being "one of the kids" to "one of the parents" in your family system. With that in mind, here are some tips for new families as they encounter expectations and traditions around the holidays.
#1. Talk with your spouse well ahead of time, and develop a strategy TOGETHER. The two of you are now the primary support for each other, therefore it is essential that pull together as a team. Spend some time talking about your hopes and desires for the holidays. Tell each other the one activity or event you want to make sure you include in your celebration. Listen carefully to your spouse, and develop a plan for making sure each of you get your "one thing."
#2. Decide ahead of time how much travel you are willing to do, if any. Traveling with a new baby is a challenging task, and one that should be considered carefully. Attending every family gathering can often lead to a very unhappy baby and completely miserable parents. Few of us want to disappoint our own parents by not being able available, but sometimes it is essential to change the expectation that you will be.
#3. Develop your own traditions with your spouse. Think about what kind of holiday experience you'd like to create for yourselves and your children, and begin implementing them now. For instance, if Christmas Eve is a difficult holiday to negotiate, create a new plan for your own observance for the day. Remember that your parents and grandparents likely had to do this same thing when they started families, and they will most likely support you-eventually!
#4. Communicate clearly with your extended family. Now is the time to state your specific plans and wishes, in a way that communicates self-respect and care, and not a putdown of others. A gracious response of "I'm so sorry we are not going to be able to join you this year" will get you much further than an angry screaming match or a tearful encounter later. Set the expectations clearly and firmly ahead of time, and reserve the right to change your mind if necessary for your own well-being.
#5. Keep talking with your spouse throughout the season about how you are doing. It is the perfect time to practice what marriage expert, John Gottman calls the daily "20 minute Stress Reducing Conversation." Talk about what is working, and what is not, and agree on a "code word" to use when you need to let each other know that it's time to leave an event.
#6. Consider your own health. If you are recovering from postpartum depression or any other condition, keep paying attention to your own recovery. Stress is the trigger for all sorts of symptoms to develop, so watch it carefully. You deserve to continue in your recovery, and not risk a relapse just because it is the holidays. Any tools you are using to aid in your recovery should be continued and your holiday plans need to include making time for your self-care plan.
#7. Give yourself permission to consider opting out of ANY and ALL holiday activities, if necessary. If you've recently added a baby to your family, time for bonding and growing together is the most important thing happening in your life right now. The lovely thing about holidays is that they come around every year. It’s okay to spend the holidays just learning how to be a parent, or falling in love with your baby, and establishing your new family.
Wishing you and yours good self-care this holiday season. Be well!
- Sherry Duson and the CPFH Counseling Staff
Our office is open during the holiday season by appointment only! Schedule an appointment at 713-561-3884.
Amy Wong (M.A., LCDC, LMFTA) joined CPFH in June of this year. Previously she worked at Memorial Hermann Recovery Center and Sugar Land Center for Couples and Families. After giving birth to her fourth child, Amy was thrilled to learn about Sherry’s mission to help women who are experiencing postpartum depression, anxiety and/or adjustments to motherhood. She feels that it is a great honor and privilege to be able to walk beside other mothers as they journey through motherhood.
In addition to working with new and expectant mothers, Amy has extensive experience working with couples, families and individuals of various ages including: children, adolescents, young adults and adults. Specific issues Amy has experience working with include: substance abuse, eating disorders, self-harm, sexual abuse, trauma/loss/grief, mood disorders, anger management, personality disorders, oppositional defiant behavior, marital/relationship conflict and parenting issues.
Amy says, "Creating a safe place where clients feel comfortable to share is a top priority. It is my goal to guide my clients to identify the resources and strength they posses which may have been overlooked or underutilized. Watching my clients grow and overcome their obstacles is such a joy and I am so grateful to work in this profession. I am constantly learning about people and relationships and that is a true gift."
Amy's non-therapy life involves being a married, mother of four children ages 18, 11, 6 and 19 months. Amy is also taking on the role of troop leader for her 6 year old daughter’s Daisy troop. Amy enjoys riding bikes, jogging and going to the playground, zoo or museum with her family.
Amy is an active member of Postpartum Support International (PSI) and Houston Association for Family and Marriage Therapy (HAMFT). She is currently being supervised by Sherry Duson, M.A., LPC-S., LMFT-S. Contact Amy at email@example.com schedule a free phone consultation or book an appointment.
The CPFH Staff, along with their spouses, enjoyed a night on the town in Midtown filling their bellies with sushi at The Fish Restaurant followed by goofy singing at Glitter Karaoke!
UPCOMING JANUARY EVENTS
New Moms Support Group (Recurring) FREE Weekly Wednesday Postpartum Depression/Anxiety/Adjustment support group. No sign-up necessary. Baby-friendly. Email or call our office for more info! (12 p.m.- 1 p.m.) Groups resume January 6th, 2016.
Bringing Baby Home New Parents Workshop (Sundays beginning January 31st through March 13th, 2016 *excluding February 7th): See details below!
BRINGING BABY HOME COUPLES SERIES
When a baby arrives, everything changes. Discover how to keep your relationship healthy and happy after bringing baby home!
The Bringing Baby Home (BBH) program, based on the research of Drs. John and Julie Gottman, is valuable for both expectant couples and parents of infants and toddlers. Facilitated by clinicians from the Center for Postpartum Family Health (CPFH), this new couples workshop will help you to successfully navigate your way through the transition to parenthood by learning how to increase relationship satisfaction between parents, decrease postpartum depression, and parent together while meeting the emotional and psychological needs of your child.
Our six week program will take place on Sundays from 4 to 6 p.m. starting January 31st – March 13th, 2016 *excluding February 7th, and will be held at Chapelwood United Methodist Church. Cost is $150. Childcare is available upon reservation for children ages 3 months through Kinder. To reserve your space or for more information, please contact Tricia Miller at 832-341-1870 or Tricia.Miller10@gmail.com. SPACE IS LIMITED.
Part of our mission at CPFH is to educate the community and raise awareness regarding maternal mental health and other related topics. Our trained therapists are available to do presentations on wellness, mental health, and relationships, and are able to tailor our talks to your group or organization. To request us at your next event, please email us.