As we enter the holiday season, we typically shift gears from a busier school schedule to a lighter agenda. We know the calendar is likely to fill up with social commitments, and we want to make sure we have room to accommodate all the feasting and partying.

However, in our case, we’re scaling back on the school commitments to make room for responsibilities of a more personal nature. In November, we welcomed baby Lily into our family, bringing our roster of children up to a baker’s half dozen (or seven, for those doing the math). A new baby in the house always results in a season of full, exciting days as we adjust to a different routine and figure out what our “new normal” is.

Fortunately, we’ve been very blessed with a supportive community of loving friends, who generously provided us with meals during the first hectic weeks. I like to say that I went on part-time maternity leave after the baby arrived, scaling back on my job duties and almost completely giving up the cooking.

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Little Lily has proven to be a relatively mellow baby, sleeping for long stretches at a time and lying serenely in her bouncy seat when she is set down. Not that she has that much “down time”—usually there’s an older sibling eager to hold her. For now, at least, our babymoon has proven to be a fairly peaceful period, only because we’ve been blessed with a happy baby, caring friends, and competent and obliging older children to help things run smoothly.

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Lily’s siblings express their love in different ways, from trying to keep her swaddled at all times, to offering her a pacifier, singing her songs, and trying to share bites of food.

All six older siblings welcomed Lily with open arms; however, although the younger ones dote upon her, they definitely exhibited a few signs of being slightly unsettled by the change. Anne, who at four years old is no longer the baby, has been especially needy, trying to climb onto my lap every time I feed the baby and clutching at my legs whenever I try to walk around and accomplish something. The leg-clutching is a good reminder to stop bustling and to sit down and cuddle with my former baby, who grew up so fast. What’s so important that needs doing in the kitchen or laundry room, anyway?

Indeed, the biggest key to the peace and quiet has been our ability to scale back and let things go. It’s been freeing to acknowledge that we don’t have to do everything right now, and that there will be plenty of time later to address anything that’s truly important. We’re keeping up on the housekeeping and laundry on an as-needed basis, and as for regular schoolwork, we’ll plunge back into a routine with renewed zest and energy in the new year. Maybe. Meanwhile, we’ll stick to the basics of keeping a happy home and let the rest fall by the wayside for now.

You may not have a new baby in the house, but perhaps for some reason or another you are facing a busy season and need a break. Give yourself grace to scale back to the essentials. There will always be plenty of time to catch up later, but there won’t be an infinite number of days to cuddle with, read to, and play with your children while they are young.

-Rose

Photo Credit: Photos courtesy of author.