Learn how to survive pregnancy with a toddler on the loose, through morning sickness, fatigue, and a big baby bump! All the best hacks and tips for the soon-to-be mom of 2!
Pregnancy is such an exciting time of growth and love. But it’s no walk in the park! Between the not-so-fun pregnancy symptoms and a crazy toddler running around, you’re bound to feel pushed close the edge on more than one occasion.
When my husband and I decided to start trying for baby number 2, I felt prepared to take on the challenge of being pregnant while caring for my son by myself 85% of the time.
With my husband working and finishing up school, I knew it was going to be tough. I did seem to forget one important thing, though:
Toddlers grow and develop at a super fast rate!
Yeah, you would think that working with toddlers and preschool-aged kids before becoming a stay-at-home mom would have prepared me for that, but it slipped my mind.
My son is not the same person he was at the beginning of my pregnancy. And he won’t be the same by the time his little sister is born.
In actuality, I was prepared for parenting him at the stage he was when we started trying. I had no way of knowing how his quirks and personality would blossom. Don’t get me wrong, most of the changes that he’s gone through have been beautiful and exciting! Others, not so much.
Like his current obsession with throwing valuable items in the garbage.
My point in saying all of this is, you have to learn to go with the flow! You can’t predict your toddler’s moods, or even what symptoms you’re going to experience. Just take things day-by-day, and learn to embrace a new kind of chaos, and a new family dynamic.
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How To Survive Pregnancy With A Toddler
Aside from embracing your toddler’s ever-changing personality and taking things a day at a time, I have a few tips for all of you newly pregnant second-time moms out there. These took me a couple of months to nail down, but I have a pretty good handle on things these days. Let’s see how long that lasts.
1. Learn To Manage Your Time More Efficiently
Time management is tricky, but vital for any stage of parenthood. Living with kids forces you to explore new ways to make the most of every moment.
Now it’s more important than ever!
Your symptoms, coupled with your toddler’s increasing demands can put a strain on your once-smooth schedule. If you’re extremely tired, gone are the days where you could easily catch up on house chores while your toddler slept.
For instance, I used to be able to work while my son napped. Some days I’m way too exhausted and I end up taking a nap with him! I also used to cook dinner while he played independently. Now he’s clinging to my legs as I shuffle around the kitchen, trying not to step on him.
So, I made adjustments! I start dinner while he’s sleeping, and work late at night. (Yay for pregnancy insomnia!)
2. Meal Plan and Prep When You Can
Meal planning is a life saver. Not only does it save you money on your grocery bill, it’s one less thing to worry about. Pregnancy brain is real, y’all. It’s common to walk into a room and forget what you’re doing.
Imagine trying to figure out what to make for dinner on a whim every single evening, with a toddler stepping on your swollen toes. Yeah, not very fun, right?
Make it a point to sit down and plan out your meals each week. Even better, break out the crockpot and use it every day if you have to! Check out some dump meals on Pinterest and throw the ingredients in every morning so you don’t have to bother with much in the kitchen!
For more involved meals, prepping ahead of time goes a long way, too. When you find a free moment, chop up some veggies for the next day’s dinner!
3. Encourage Your Toddler To Play Independently
Toddlers becoming clingy once their mom gets pregnant is a real phenomenon people. I seen’t it!
My usually independent boy is suddenly super cuddly and fussy. Granted, it could just be a phase that he would go through regardless, but that doesn’t really matter, does it?
The funny thing is, I’ve gotten clingier too. I just want to hold him and love on him all day long! Unfortunately, no one has created an affordable self-folding laundry machine, or a robot that does all of the dishes.
Encouraging your toddler to play independently isn’t about pushing them away, but let’s face it – we need to get things done, and it’s not always possible to carry your toddler around at the same time.
It’s healthy for them to explore toys and activities by themselves, and it’s necessary for you to keep the home running smoothly. Break out their favorite toy blocks and get them engaged in building, or teach them how to do something new all by themselves.
4. Make Activity Bins For Your Toddler
Activity bins are a lifesaver! I haven’t had the energy to do full-blown activities lately. Like finger painting. Ugh. Just no. Not right now. Sorry, son.
Thankfully, with all of the (easier) activities I have on hand, he doesn’t even ask about painting or jello.
Activity bins don’t need to be well thought out and planned. Seriously, just throw some pom-poms, construction paper, and stickers in a plastic bin and call it a day. I usually put new toy sets in a bin too, so everything is easy to grab and easy to clean. Here are a few of the activity bins I have around, for inspiration:
- Foam Letters (you can add a little water to the bottom of the bin, and your toddler can stick them on the window!)
- Magnetic Building Blocks (these aren’t the exact ones we have, but they’re very similar.)
- Bristle Blocks
- Art Box (with construction paper, crayons, pom-poms, and stickers)
- Sandwich-Making Bin
5. Give Your Toddler Lots of Attention
If your toddler is craving your attention, and absolutely nothing will distract them, take the day off! Give them lots of snuggles and one-on-one time. Soak it in while you can. Soon enough your arms will be full with another little one, and you’ll miss it.
Besides, you’ll fill their little soul up and they’ll feel happy and secure. Maybe secure enough to start wanting to crawl down off your lap and play by themselves. Or not. Remember, take things day-by-day.
6. Find A New Hobby or Show, And Enjoy Some “Me Time”
There’s a reason we constantly hear about self care for moms. It’s important! If you’re feeling frazzled or worn out, making time for yourself is the best thing you can do to recharge. Pick up a new hobby that’s just for you, like knitting, scrapbooking, or craft-making. Or pick out a new show and binge-watch it after your toddler goes to bed.
No matter what you choose to do in your free-time, make it a point to do it as often as you can! Aside from my blog, I’ve been rewatching Parenthood on Hulu. I highly recommend it if you’ve never seen it!
7. If You Can’t Pick Them Up, Redirect
Technically we’re not even supposed to pick up our toddlers all that often while pregnant. But unless you’re high-risk, chances are you’ve been doing it anyway.
There will be days, especially as you get further along in your pregnancy, where you just can’t do it. Your back is achy, the baby is sitting in a weird position, and you get out of breath every time you bend over. I get it.
In those moments, do your best to redirect your toddler’s attention to something else. Sometimes it will work, sometimes it won’t. When push comes to shove, you can either deal with the tantrum, or guide your toddler to the couch and invite them in your lap.
It’s tough. When my son is insistent on having me pick him up and I know I just can’t handle it, I don’t want to ignore his request and make him feel unheard. But telling him no hurts his feelings and sends him into meltdown mode. Whether he understands or not, I try to explain that Mama’s back hurts, and how cool would it be if we ate some goldfish instead?
8. Sleep As Often As You Can
Some days it feels like you can sleep for 9 hours, take a 2 hour nap, and still not have enough energy. Your body wants you to sleep for a reason, so just let it happen! Remember back to those early days with your toddler, when everyone told you to “sleep when the baby sleeps.” Sure, that advice wasn’t exactly helpful since there’s a million other things you need to do while they sleep. But if there’s ever a time to listen to your body and take this advice, it’s now!
When you lay your toddler down for a nap, there’s no shame in joining them! If you have a friend, boyfriend or husband who can hang out with them for an hour or two so you can catch up on some rest, do it!
9. Teach Your Toddler To Help Out
This time around, you have a helpful toddler around to pick up the things you drop. How cool is that? I mean, sure. Sometimes they’ll throw said item across the room or run off with it, giggling. But it’s still better than having to bend over.
Really though, if your toddler is at an age where they’re curious and they want to be involved in everything, encourage that behavior by teaching them how to clean up after themselves.
It will save you time, and it’s important for your toddler, anyway.
10. Add More Structure To Your Day
Make your days as structured as you can, especially if you’re a stay-at-home mom. Write lists and map out each day. It doesn’t have to be planned down to the last minute, but it’s nice to have a piece of paper to look to when you feel lost. Which, if you’re anything like me, happens pretty frequently.
Know what activities you’re going to give your toddler, what meals you’re going to eat throughout the day, and what chores are priority. It makes all the difference!
11. Explore New Techniques For Stopping Meltdowns
I firmly believe that meltdowns are as exhausting for parents as they are for our toddlers. They wear themselves out, throwing things and screaming their little heads off. Our neck muscles start to get sore from shaking our heads so much. It’s tiring.
Nothing makes me feel more drained than when my son just won’t go easy on me all day long. Sometimes I swear he doesn’t even know what he’s upset about! He’s just mad and he wants the world to know.
There are several tactics I use to diffuse impending meltdowns, but they don’t always work. At least you can say you tried! Redirection is a big one, along with getting down on their level and *attempting* to understand what they’re upset about and how you can fix it.
That isn’t to say you should give into their tantrums! No judgement if you do, but you won’t find me giving that advice. It’s way worse in the long run. Unless what they’re asking for is something they need, or involves being held, I don’t recommend giving in. If you said no to a popsicle, and no amount of hugging or redirection is working, you may just have to let them feel what they feel and move on. Boundaries are important, too.
12. Involve Your Toddler In Your Pregnancy
If your toddler is feeling some kind of way about your pregnancy, whether they fully understand what’s going on or not, involve them! Talk to them about the baby in your belly, and what it all means. Let them come with you to the ultrasound appointments and take them out for ice cream after.
If taking them with you to appointments isn’t an option for one reason or another, don’t feel guilty! You can show them the ultrasound pictures when you get home, and talk about their little sibling in Mommy’s belly.
13. Treat Food Like Fuel
If there’s ever a time to treat food like fuel, it’s now. I promise, it helps your mood and energy levels massively when you provide your body with the nutrient-rich foods it needs.
Enjoy your cravings, but only in moderation. You can’t live on cheeseburgers and ice cream and expect to feel good. It just doesn’t work that way.
I love food (if you can’t tell by my frame), and I don’t discriminate. I eat dairy, meat, sweets, and pretty much anything else aside from seafood and anything else off limits during pregnancy. And yes, I love pasta. But the best advice I can give you is to search Pinterest for plant-based recipes, and add some meat if you’re a meat eater! That’s what we do! When you search for dinner recipes, most of the time it’s full of dishes with a ton of processed junk and heavy ingredients that will make you feel tired and sluggish.
14. Be Consistent With Tidying Up
Most people will advise you to take it easy and not be too hard on yourself when you’re pregnant with a toddler in the house. And yes, this is true! But it’s equally important to keep up with chores. Hear me out.
If your house is a wreck right now, the first thing you need to do is get it to where you want it to be. Ask family or friends to take your toddler out to the park for a couple of hours one day when you feel extra motivated, and use that time to get your house in order. Catch up on laundry, dishes, dusting, and anything else that needs to be done.
From there, do your best to tidy up lightly throughout the day, consistently.
A clean home makes a happy family, and having clutter and toys everywhere will affect your mental health. Letting things pile up and get out of control puts stress on you and the baby, and spending hours cleaning up at a time feels awful. It’s much better to spend 10 minutes, several times every day, picking up toys and rinsing dishes. Trust me!
15. Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard
And with that being said, don’t push yourself too hard, either. The reason I suggest staying on top of chores is because big cleaning sessions tend to put a lot of stress on your body. Take it easy! Keep things fairly tidy, but don’t expect perfection. Your house doesn’t need to be immaculate right now.
Are you pregnant with baby number 2 right now? Do you have any tips for surviving pregnancy with a toddler that other moms can benefit from? Let us know in the comments!
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