I loved my first pregnancy with my baby, Fischer. But honestly, I didn’t think I was going to enjoy pregnancy. I had all the rational (and irrational) fears about being pregnant. And I wasn’t sure I was ready to give up what was so normal to me, like the spontaneous happy hour. Then, of course, there are the horror stories of swollen ankles and feet and other aches and pains. It turns out, though, that those 40 weeks weren’t bad at all! I was sick for a little while, but my pregnancy was beautifully textbook-perfect. However, when my husband and I began to talk about having a second baby, I started to worry about how I could handle surviving pregnancy while chasing after an active toddler.
Surviving Pregnancy with an Active Toddler
How would I deal with being sick for 14 weeks while my son runs around in all his toddler glory? How would I deal with the fatigue? The weight gain? Many women have multiple pregnancies and make it through just fine, but I didn’t care about how OTHER women did it. I was nervous! A few girlfriends of mine were brutally honest: “It sucks. You’re going to be dead tired.” Gee, thanks, friends!
I’m currently 26 weeks in and let me tell you, the first 14 were no picnic. As this is my second go-around, I’m going to share some ways that I’ve found to survive this pregnancy as an already busy toddler mom.
Make Meals Easier
Honestly, I believe meal planning should be something every person implements regardless of whether they have children or not. It just makes life so much easier! I’ve been meal planning for a couple of years now and tried to keep it up during my first trimester. But between being too sick or too tired to cook, I decided to just take that time day by day. However, by the beginning of the second trimester, I felt much more like my old self and spent Sundays creating our meal plan for the week.
We have two, and yes, I use both of them. One that is small and cooks up just enough servings for dinner and lunch the next day. And the other is HUGE and not only makes enough servings for dinner and lunch but also enough to freeze! THIS MACHINE WILL BECOME YOUR BEST FRIEND. Even during the first trimester, when I was feeling so sick, I could get everything going so that the boys had dinner ready that night. I typically plan to do two crockpot meals a week so that if I’m feeling exhausted, I can throw everything in the pot and step away for a while.
Keep Entertaining Your Toddler Simple
Toddlers tend to get bored very easily (shocker, I know), so I’ve found a few ways to keep them (and you!) from going stir-crazy.
Check out the dollar store, the dollar aisle at Target, or even a local kids thrift shop and stock up on small items that will keep your tot entertained. I introduce the bag once or twice a week when it’s rainy, or I am really tired. Fischer is always super excited to see what’s new! I don’t always introduce ALL the new items; I think the combination of things he’s seen with things he hasn’t throws him off the scent. Grab bag days keep him entertained for a solid 30-60 minutes, during which I either play with him or have time to rest.
Explore somewhere new
Being active will undoubtedly help you feel better (yes, even when you’re nauseous). It will also tire out your little one. So, take some time one day to go online and discover new places in your city or town that are suitable for playtime. Options could include nature centers, different parks, libraries, firehouses.
Call on your “Village”
I’ve talked about the importance of the Village before, and it’s perhaps at its most important, for me, right now.
Mother’s Day Out
If you’ve found one that you trust and you’ve got the funds to do it, MDO programs are so helpful. While your tot runs themself bonkers and out of energy, take the time to rest, run errands (without a screaming toddler makes this much more pleasant), get a mani/pedi, read a book, meet a friend for lunch, take an exercise class. See the benefit of having a few hours without your shadow?
Stay-at-Home Mom Friends
They have, or they will call on you one day, and you should never be ashamed to say you need a little help. Ask if you and tiny can hang out for a few hours while the kiddos play. It’ll be nice for you to get some adult interaction and some time where you’re not the sole entertainer. Or, even better, ask if you can drop your little one off for a short play date!
If you’ve got them in town and they’re willing to help (and, let’s be honest, you WANT them to help), call on them freely. I understand feeling a little guilty or uncomfortable asking a stay-at-home mom friend for help, but family is family. Not only are they probably happy to help you out, but you get to foster the important role those people are playing in your little’s life! That’s a win-win in my book.
Be Kind to Yourself
There are many people/sites/memes/shows telling us how we “should” be parenting and what we should or should not feel guilty about. You know what? Screw it. You do what works for you, and sometimes that means turning on a movie so you can just rest while little one sits next to you. Or sometimes, that means throwing a bunch of toys on the ground while you lay on the couch, counting down the hours until you have someone at home to help you out.
I’ve recently found abcmouse.com through PBS kids and have been happy with how it engages Fischer while still being educational. You’re already feeling tired and stressed about the prospect of adding another little one to the family. The absolute LAST thing you need is to feel guilty about how you’re surviving these tough months!
I hope these ideas have helped you formulate a plan for surviving pregnancy with your toddler. Try to remember to take some time to enjoy this pregnancy! I always have to remind myself that it’ll be over before I know it, and I’ll miss it when it’s gone.