The Festive Season Wrapped Up
'Tis the season to be jolly, when children are nestled all snug in their beds with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads... Well, maybe not quite...
When I was pregnant the first time around, Baby's first Christmas was one of the things I looked forward to the most. I love this time of year and envisaged a happy giggling baby caught up in the Yuletide magic, captivated by fairy lights and snow. Well, it wasn't just the white Christmas that failed to happen. I'll be honest and admit that our first Yule with our little boy, then ten months old, was a bit of a nightmare. He definitely enjoyed the fairy lights, but that was where the accuracy of my pre-baby festive fantasy ended.
The reality was travel sickness, irritability, nap refusal, over-tiredness and very little sleep. Once I thought about it, this should really have come as no surprise. I realised that until children are old enough to get a proper grasp on what it's all about, who Father Christmas is, and how reindeer fly (because of course they do!), it's actually the season of a lot of confusing and strange things. It's a time to be surrounded by lots of new faces talking loudly, different food, long car journeys to see relatives, and inexplicably being made to sit on the laps of particularly odd strangers wearing disguises. It's being in a place that isn't home, with a completely different routine, being fed unusual 'treats' by well-meaning grandparents and general sensory overload.
Baby wrapping was pretty much the only thing that got the three of us through that Christmas in one piece (well, that and some festive beverages for Daddy who was lucky enough not to be breastfeeding!)! Wrapping our little one helped him feel secure and reassured when all the excitement got too much, and facilitated little walks in the fresh air when we all needed a bit of a time out. It was also the only way that we could get Captain Over-Stimulated to nap and go to sleep at night, and therefore get a limited amount of shut-eye ourselves. Wrapping helped me feel as though I still had an element of control throughout the festive chaos.
Babywearing is just as important today, as we hurtle towards our second Yule as a family of three, as it was last year. Our now 22-month old little man still doesn't believe in sleeping in unusual places (or at home much, but that's another story!), and our wraps are a crucial part of my festive family survival kit.
Last weekend we ventured out on our annual weekend trip to the Bath Christmas market. For the uninitiated, this is akin to venturing into a scene of The Walking Dead where a crush of thousands of zombies, thirsty for human flesh (well, mulled wine, pies and festive gifts anyway!) descend on the narrow city streets. I honestly don't know how people with young children manage to get through it alive without babywearing. We saw pushchairs being accidentally sat on by people in shoulder-to-shoulder crowds and parents being unable to move without putting their little ones on their shoulders to 'fight' their way out. Our little man however had a whale of a time up on Daddy's back where he could see everything, and we managed to have a largely stress-free day.
It's the particular challenges posed by this otherwise wonderful season that bring into focus just how useful a parenting tool babywearing is, so make sure that there's a wrap, sling or baby carrier both under the tree and in your suitcase this year!