Wondering how to handle household work during pregnancy? Learn tips to get chores done and which ones to avoid, all while staying safe.
No doubt about it, being pregnant takes a toll on your energy level. From the nausea of the first trimester to waddling and being unable to move around in the third, we simply don’t have the energy—nor the mood—that we used to.
And this is none more apparent than dealing with household work.
I knew I’d feel tired, but I wasn’t expecting such a difference in how I felt about household chores and tasks. My second pregnancy was more exhausting, not only because I already had a 3-year-old to care for, but I was also carrying twins.
So, despite the toys strewn everywhere or the pile of laundry still to do, I just didn’t have any motivation to do anything. And when my husband pretty much took over our chores, I still felt guilty for lying down on the couch or reading a book.
At one point, even standing and washing the dishes was already strenuous enough for me.
How to handle household work during pregnancy
Perhaps you can relate. Your floors are dirty, the sink always has dirty dishes in it, and the bathroom is filthy. Meanwhile, you can barely push the vacuum cleaner, much less scrub the tub. Your partner might not even be much help, whether because he or she works a lot or isn’t inclined to pitch in.
And let’s not forget the health and safety of your pregnancy too, and the chores to avoid given your circumstances. This isn’t exactly the time to bring out the bleach or move furniture around.
How can you manage household work during your pregnancy? One where you can still keep a clean home without exhausting yourself? Take a look at the tips I’ve learned—I hope they can help you, too:
1. Rest after each chore
One way to get chores done without burning out is to give yourself a break after each task. That way, you can still get something done without added strain.
For instance, you might vacuum a room, then lie on the couch for 30 minutes. Or you could start sweeping and mopping, then sit outside in your patio or balcony for a breather. You’re preventing yourself from doing too much for too long with frequent breaks after each chore.
You might even want to limit yourself to one “big” chore a day, then relax the rest of the time. Maybe that’s wiping the stove from all the oil and muck, or the grout between the shower tiles. Pick one chore and only do that one chore for the day.
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2. Do the basics
You might be the type who’s okay to let the “once in a while” cleaning go—for months if needed—so long as you can keep up with daily maintenance.
Focus the chores you need to do nearly every day and stick only to those. Everyone will have different criteria. Some need to vacuum every day, while others want to make sure that dishes aren’t in the sink and dinners are cooked.
Then, do only those and save the other chores for when you have more energy. That might mean forgoing cleaning the toilets, so long as you have a quick dinner served every night. The bathroom cabinets won’t be cleaned every day, so long as the dishwasher is emptied every night.
Another way to keep your house clean without extending yourself too much is to do a little here and there.
You may not be able to declutter the whole living room, but you could move the junk mail from the coffee table to the recycle bin. Don’t try to clean all of your toddler’s toys, but just the ones that are on the floor.
As you go about your day, keep picking up here and there, so that you’re at least keeping your home neat a little at a time.
3. Hang a chore list
To keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed, print and hang a chore list to check off. I kept mine to weekly tasks, but you can make a chore list to complete within two weeks or even a month.
For instance, you can add “clean the kitchen sink” or “wipe the windows” and check them off when you’re done. Then, you won’t have to feel guilty for not doing them again for the rest of the week since you’ve already completed them within that time frame.
Similarly, you can have a daily chore list to keep yourself on track and avoid feeling burdened with chores. Your daily list might include “load the dishwasher” or “wipe the dining table.” Even if you do these every day, having them down on paper can help you cross them off and relax when they’re done.
And lastly, you can designate certain days for certain chores. You might vacuum on Wednesdays or clean the bathrooms on Saturdays. Designating a day for chores can help you focus on just a handful a day instead of feeling compelled to do too much.
4. Declutter and simplify
I’m a fan of keeping my home decluttered and simple for many reasons, including fewer chores to have to do. The more possessions we have and commitments we make, the more responsibilities we take.
The first place to start is before you even bring anything into your home. Ask yourself whether you truly need to buy an item in the first place. More clothes mean more laundry to wash and closets to organize. A toaster oven seems neat, but that’s another appliance to clean and keep on your countertop.
Then, go through your home and see what you can declutter and give away. Post them on your local Buy Nothing Group (many are found on Facebook) to see if others can take them off your hands and put them to better use.
Of the items you want to keep, make sure to have a place for everything. Books should go on shelves, toys in the toy box, blankets in the linen cabinet, and kitchen gadgets in the drawer. This will help you keep items where they belong, and ideally out of sight.
5. Hire help
Don’t feel guilty if you can’t do everything yourself—we could all use help, even if it means paying for it.
The obvious option is hiring a cleaning service to help you with deep cleaning. Even once every two weeks or month can give you the clean house you want without straining yourself.
But there are other ways to hire help as well. For instance, you can:
- Get your groceries delivered (or pick them up at the store)
- Run your car through a car wash instead of washing it yourself
- Hire a gardener or landscaper to maintain your yard or garden
- Hire a “mother’s helper” or babysitter to help you in the evenings or care for your kids
6. Have your older kids do chores
Feeling frazzled with doing chores and caring for your older kids while pregnant? Don’t feel like you have to save doing chores after they’re asleep, or to throw your hands in defeat. Have them do age-appropriate chores as well!
Of course, showing them how to do the chores takes time, and it’ll take a few tries and mistakes before they get the hang of it. But delegating tasks to your older kids will save you time in the long run.
Don’t assume that they’re too young for certain tasks. Go a notch above what they can do, and you might be surprised at how well they can take on these chores.
Depending on their ages, they can help with cleaning the litter box, wiping doorknobs and surfaces, or sweeping the floor after meals. Have them pack their own snacks for school, and show them how to make their beds. And make them responsible for cleaning up after their belongings.
7. Get your partner on board
Do you feel like your partner can help you more, especially now that you’re pregnant? Talk to him or her about needing help, and decide together on what you can both do.
They can take on household tasks like cleaning the bathtubs (save your lower back!), wiping the ceiling fans, or washing the curtains. Perhaps you need help with day-to-day tasks like cooking and playing with the kids.
You might feel guilty, or that you’re asking too much, considering that all you want to do is sleep and rest. But don’t forget that your body is hard at work making your baby, which consumes a lot of energy! You may not look like you’re doing much, but your body is hard at work.
8. Stay safe
A big concern many pregnant women have about household work during pregnancy are safety factors.
Your doctor has likely advised you to not to clean the cat litter, and let someone else do the task. You may want to stick to eco-friendly and natural products as well (or make your own with baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice). When you do need to use cleaning products, wear gloves to protect your skin.
If you need to sit and fold laundry, do so on the couch or pull up a stool so you don’t have to get yourself up off the floor. Avoid painting the nursery or breathing in products that might emit fumes. Don’t do chores that need you to climb a ladder—let someone else do it, or deal with it when you’re no longer pregnant.
Protect yourself and your unborn baby—a messy house really isn’t worth it.
9. Don’t push yourself
At the end of the day, your priority is to your baby. This is the one task that no one else can do, the one task you can’t outsource. From morning sickness to fatigue, your body lets you know when to slow down.
Limit yourself physically and skip strenuous chores that have you bending over or lifting heavy loads. And the second you feel fatigued or exhausted, stop what you’re doing and rest (yes, even if you’re mid-chore).
The last thing you need is to have cramps or complications. Remember, the world won’t come to an end if you don’t sweep the floors or clean the toilets.
Don’t feel guilty for wanting to sleep all day, even if your partner does all the chores, or if these tasks are left undone—you can always do them later. Right now, your body needs you to rest and focus your energy on your baby.
Whether you find satisfaction in cleaning your home or dread the endless chores to do, household work during pregnancy is never easy on any mom. Thankfully, you can still keep a decent home without pushing yourself too hard.
Rest after each chore so you can break them up into manageable tasks, and do one big chore a day (or even week). Focus on the basic daily tasks, picking up items here and there so they don’t build up. Hang a chore list so you don’t feel overwhelmed, and declutter your home to have fewer things to begin with.
Hire help, from a cleaning service to getting your groceries delivered. Enlist your older kids and partner so not everything falls on your shoulders. Stay safe, like avoiding chemicals in cleaning products and not straining yourself too much.
And finally, don’t push yourself. No matter how messy your home gets, your priority is taking care of your growing baby.
You don’t have to sweat yourself with household work during your pregnancy, my friend. Yes, even with something as simple as standing and washing the dishes.
Get more tips:
- Top 5 Signs to Stop Working During Pregnancy
- How to Survive a Pregnancy with a Toddler
- 7 Things to Do After the Baby Is Born
- Surviving the First Trimester when You Have No Idea Where to Start
- How to Cope with Cholestasis of Pregnancy
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