How to Survive Pregnancy with a Toddler

Have no energy (or patience!) during your pregnancy with a toddler? Learn how to handle your child’s needs, even if you’re pregnant.

Pregnancy with a ToddlerCaring 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 parent knows, kids this age don’t exactly stay in one place, and they’re also not old enough to do most things themselves.

I was so tired by the end of the day that I’d find myself heading straight to bed once he was tucked in. Working full-time left me running low on time to be 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.

Getting through 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 in the meantime and even enjoy ourselves. Here’s how I got through this stage, 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!” right when we’re feeling nauseous with morning sickness. Life doesn’t stop for them, even if we’d rather lay on the couch and sleep the rest of the day.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t find easy 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, you can:

  • Play “catch,” where you throw the ball to one another. But each time the ball rolls far away, leave it to him to run and grab it. This way, you can stay in the same place without needing to get up much.
  • Take him to the park. Stick to age-appropriate playgrounds so you can sit in one spot while letting him explore nearby. Even a walk around the neighborhood can be enough—the fresh air can do you good as well.
  • Stick to low-key, quiet activities. Reading library books, playing puzzles, and painting are a few ideas that allow you to spend plenty of time with him without demanding too much out of you.

How to Entertain a 2 Year Old

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2. Encourage independence

Hovering over your toddler doesn’t give her a chance to be independent. Despite what you might think, he’s likely 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, and dress himself completely. I was nearby to give instructions as needed, but he had to do most of these tasks himself.

This goes beyond simple tasks and into independent play. Your child doesn’t always need you to engage with him during play. He can benefit from playing on his own without you hovering or directing him.

Give him the time and space to play on his own nearby—he can imagine and create on his own terms, and you can take a quick break as well. Whether it’s chores or play, his growing independence can take a few tasks off your hands and 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? See what happens when you give him a new toy (or even one he hasn’t seen in a while).

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 them as a way of clearing clutter and reviving interest in old ones. Don’t toss toys you think he’s bored with just yet. Store it out of sight, then bring it out a few weeks or months later, and they can feel like special toys all over again.

Another idea is to buy 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 when your toddler naps. From preparing her 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. Being pregnant and caring for a child is exhausting even for the most energetic mom. Use her nap time to rest along with her. This doesn’t mean you have to sleep—even lying on the couch to read and relax can help.

Think of it this way: this is a temporary period in your life—napping when she naps doesn’t mean this is your new lifestyle. It’s okay to let the chores slide or to have her wait while you prepare her snacks.

Focus on getting as much sleep as you can, so that when you are with her, you’re better rested and ready to be present.

5. Don’t be too hard on yourself

We 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 because you don’t have the energy or patience to handle your toddler at the moment. Accept the season you’re in rather than piling even more blame on your shoulders. She 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 dwell on the challenges. Find ways to make your days more conducive to being present instead of rushing from one activity to the next.

And keep your days simple. It’s okay if you eat pizza or chicken nuggets instead of preparing a home-cooked meal, or skip housework or even a bedtime story because you’re too exhausted. Use these moments to recharge and pick yourself back up again.

But most of all, don’t be too hard on yourself. It may not seem like it, but this pregnancy is temporary and one you can get through soon enough.

Failing as a Parent


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 your toddler’s independence, 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 from storage.

Use nap times to rest yourself, knowing that doing so can help you be a better parent 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 —or at least, 45 minutes of uninterrupted rest while she opens and closes wooden doors and latches nearby.

Best Games for 2 Year Olds

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Pregnancy To Do List

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