Finding that you have no energy (or patience!) during your pregnancy with a toddler? Learn how to handle your child’s behavior and tend to his needs, even if you’re pregnant.
As hard as a pregnancy can be (and in my case, a twin pregnancy), it only feels worse with a toddler in tow.
Caring for a toddler was taking a toll on me during my second pregnancy, from dealing with his behavior to tending to his needs. As any toddler mom knows, kids that age don’t exactly stay in one place, but they’re also still not old enough to do most things themselves.
I was so tired by the end of the day that I often found myself heading straight to bed once he was tucked in. Working full-time left me running low on time to spend with him as well as the energy to do so. I felt too tired to play pretend kitchen or catch, then guilty for not being the mom I knew he needed.
I simply couldn’t keep up.
How to survive a pregnancy with a toddler
Perhaps you can relate. Your first pregnancy may have been easier to handle—after all, you could rest whenever you wanted. Now, you find yourself tugged between trying to get through your pregnancy and dealing with your toddler at the same time.
Getting through a pregnancy with a toddler can leave any mom feeling like a failure. Rest assured, you’re not alone, nor are you left simply to slog through the next few months.
As difficult as my twin pregnancy was, I also knew there had to be a way to take care of myself and still be there for my son. Sure, it was going to be different from what we were used to, but we’d find a way to get through it and even enjoy ourselves.
Here’s how I got through my pregnancy with a toddler, and how you can, too.
1. Find activities that allow you to rest
We’ve all dreaded the times our toddlers run up to us and say, “Let’s play chase, mama!” right when we’re feeling nauseous. Life doesn’t stop for toddlers, even if their moms would rather lay on the couch and sleep the rest of the day.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t find activities that don’t require too much out of you. Your toddler can still have fun playing with you, even if you’re not doing nearly as much physical activity as he is.
For instance, take a look at these ideas:
- Play “catch,” where you throw the ball to one another. But each time the ball rolls far away, leave it to your toddler to run and grab it. This way, you can stay in the same place without needing to get up much.
- Take her to the park. Stick to age-appropriate playgrounds so you can sit in one spot while letting her explore nearby. The fresh air will likely do you good as well.
- Stick to low-key activities. Reading, playing puzzles, and painting are a few ideas that allow you to spend time with your toddler without demanding too much out of you.
2. Encourage independence
As a mom to one child, you likely focused all your attention on him. If there was anything he needed, you were right there to give it to him.
The problem? All that hovering doesn’t give him a chance to be independent. Despite what you may think, your toddler is capable of doing many things on his own.
I learned this out of necessity when I was on bed rest and couldn’t do as much for my son. He had to learn how to wash his hands, fetch a snack, or dress himself completely, all on his own. I was nearby to give instructions as needed, but he had to do most of this himself.
This goes beyond simple tasks as well and into independent play. Kids don’t always need us to engage with them during play. In fact, they benefit from playing on their own without us constantly hovering or directing their play.
Give your toddler the time and space to play on his own nearby—he can enjoy the time to imagine on his own terms, and you can take a quick break as well.
Whether it’s chores or play, your toddler’s growing independence will not only take a few tasks off your hands, but also build the confidence he needs in himself.
3. Give your toddler a “new” toy
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Do you feel like your toddler has a short attention span and won’t last a minute doing the same thing? Then perhaps you haven’t counted how long he can stay engaged when he plays with a new toy.
We all love novelty, kids included. I gave my son this game of wooden doors he can open and close, and I kid you not, he kept at it for 45 minutes straight.
When you feel like you can’t take any more, or anticipate needing a break, giving your child a new toy can be all it takes to keep him occupied.
This doesn’t mean all the toys have to be new or extravagant. I’m a fan of rotating toys as a way of both clearing clutter and reviving interest in old toys. Don’t toss toys you think your toddler is bored with just yet. Store it out of sight, then bring it out a few weeks or months later, and it’ll feel new all over again.
Another idea is to grab dollar toys and activities, taking out a few at a time to keep him engaged while you rest. These items are simple enough for him to play with on his own, but still fun and new to grab his attention.
4. Nap at the same time
If you’re like me, you’re often tempted to cram as many things as possible into your child’s nap time. From preparing his snacks to vacuuming the floor, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to get everything done otherwise.
But if there was any time to let your standards go, it’s now. Pregnancy with a toddler is exhausting even for the most energetic mom. Use your child’s nap time to rest as well.
Think of it this way: this is a temporary period in your life—napping when your toddler naps doesn’t mean this is your new lifestyle. It’s okay to let the chores slide, or to have him wait while you prepare his snacks.
Focus on getting as much sleep as you can, so that when you are with him, you’re better-rested and ready to be present.
5. Don’t be too hard on yourself
We moms can put so much pressure on ourselves to always be on our A-game, then feel guilty when we fall slightly short of that goal.
You’re not failing your toddler because you don’t have the energy or patience to handle him at the moment. Accept the season you’re in, rather than piling even more blame on your shoulders. He doesn’t love you any less because you’d rather read a book than play soccer at the park.
If you lose your temper, be quick to apologize and learn from the moment, rather than dwelling on the challenges of your pregnancy with a toddler. Find ways to make your days more conducive to being present instead of rushing from one activity to the next.
But most of all, don’t be too hard on yourself. It may not seem like it, but this pregnancy will be brief and one you’ll get through soon enough.
Surviving a pregnancy with a toddler in tow is challenging, no doubt. But you don’t have to be stuck feeling miserable, guilty, or downright tired for the next few months.
Start by focusing on games and activities that don’t require too much physical effort on your part. Nurture independence in your toddler, encouraging her to assume tasks or play on her own with you nearby. Give her a new toy, from simple trinkets to old toys brought out of storage.
Use her nap times to grab some rest for yourself, knowing that doing so will help you be a better mom than when you’re exhausted. And finally, go easy on yourself, mama—this is a temporary season in your life that’s best left without added blame.
You can get the break you need during a pregnancy with a toddler—or at least, 45 minutes of uninterrupted rest while he opens and closes wooden doors and latches nearby.
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Get more tips:
- On Balancing Newborn and Toddler Needs
- Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Going on Maternity Leave
- Top Baby Stuff for Dads He’ll Actually Use
- When You Feel Guilty About Adding to the Family
- Surviving the First Trimester When You Have No Idea Where to Start
Tell me in the comments: how are you getting through your pregnancy with a toddler?
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