Q&A: Taking a baby to see fireworks? (aka fitting your baby into your life)

Lisa writes:

"As a new mom I find myself now thinking hard about all kinds of thingsthat were once no-brainers, like whether or not to go see the fireworks on the Fourth of July. I have gone out to see fireworks as long as I can remember and enjoy them, but now I have a son who just turned 8 months I'm concerned going to the show and keeping him out late at such a loud and stimulating event might be a form of "sleep suicide" for everyone (and that is only considering the late bedtime...we have no idea how he'll react to fireworks). In our area, the fireworks don't start until 10pm, and usually last about 30 minutes. I would definitely give him a really late nap if we did decide to brave it. But the closer we get, the more I'm having second thoughts about attempting this. So do I listen to my gut, or do I practice "you never know until you try"? And what do families do when they have a range of kids...like an older child and an infant? Do they have to split up the family so one parent stays home with the infant or toddler and the other takes the older kids, or just take everyone and bear any consequences? Does it only matter how much I value seeing those firework shows? Maybe I'm thinking about this way too much, but if you'd like to throw this out there for everyone to discuss I'd be really interested in any experience or words of wisdom in making this kind of decision."

Well, number 1: Always go with your gut.

And, number 2: Yes, you are overthinking this particular issue, but it seems to me that this is just a stand-in for the greater question of "How do you fit your baby in to the life you've loved without sacrificing too much of yourself or too much of your baby's wellbeing?"

Balance is really hard to achieve. We touched on it a few weeks ago when talking about weaning, but it's an ongoing process. There are some things that are clearly good for everyone: eating vegetables, sleeping, dancing around in the living room to your favorite album from high school. But there are so many other situations in which you have to make decisions, whether big or small, about whose needs are prioritized.

There's no way anyone else can make that decision for you. You have to come up with your own process for making these decisions. In some families, everyone does it or no one does it. In other families they split up so kids get alone time with parents and to do special things only they enjoy. Some families have kids in bed at 7 pm no matter what, while others let their kids stay up hanging out with the adults talking long into the night. Privacy, communication, schoolwork--the list of things that are going to need negotiation goes on and on.

It might be worth your time to talk with your partner and see if you can come up with some guiding principles. Is it more important to you to keep his sleep normal now? Is it more important to celebrate the holiday the way you always do (bearing in mind that you should come home if the sounds freak him out)? Do you want to make a blanket policy decision, or play it by ear every year as he gets older? There are so many variables, so if you can isolate a few things that are more important to you than the others, that will help you make your decision.

How do you all approach making decisions like this? And what are you doing for the holiday weekend (in the US)? And did Canadians get the last few days off, too?