Pregnancy is a hard and confusing thing. Your body is changing every day, you are exhausted even if you do get a good night sleep and, for so many women, there are countless days full of sickness and fatigue. Now, throw a toddler on top of that, and it makes the hard parts of pregnancy even harder.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders, women alone need 7-9 hours of sleep a night, and if they are pregnant they either need a few extra hours at night, or a few short naps during the day. But when you have a toddler, getting a "real" good night sleep isn't always possible; you can't just lie in bed all day if you are sick; and forget about being able to rest when your legs and body are begging you to -- your toddler's needs take precedent.
When I was pregnant with my first, I slept whenever I wanted. I had slight nausea and sickness throughout the whole pregnancy, but for the most part, I was able to manage most of the discomforts through rest. Fast forward to my second pregnancy, and it was a completely different experience. I was very sick, somedays unable to get out of bed, exhausted, and just downright unmotivated.
I obviously wanted more than anything to play with and enjoy my daughter, but my body was telling me to do otherwise. So I had to come up with a few tricks to get by. Here are 8 ways to survive pregnancy with a toddler.
1. Encourage independent play. Sure, playing with your tot is fun, but if you feel sick or tired, you may not have the energy and capacity. So give your toddler room to play independently, next to you. Make the toy box accessible and get a few essentials for quiet playtime, like Play Doh and watercolor paints. (Tip: buy the extra-large notecards for them to paint on. They are smaller and more durable than pieces of paper.) If you have an outdoor area, you can get a sand box -- toddlers play in sand for hours, which will give you a chance to just sit and relax.
2. Get your toddler involved. Pregnancy and all the changes that come with it can be confusing to little ones, which can make them act out. To manage tantrums, you can emphasize their new role as big sibling and get them excited about baby's arrival. Read books about brothers and sisters and about babies; and let them help plan for baby by letting them pick a couple of toys or outfits.
3. It's ok to rely on screens a little more. I know, I know... you probably want to limit screen time, but hey, it's ok to get a little help from cartoon characters every now and then. Plus, it makes for a fun date to snuggle on the couch with popcorn and a movie. (Tip: On average, movies are cheaper to rent on Amazon than on iTunes. You also get to keep them for 3 days through Amazon as opposed to just 24 hours.)
4. Get outside. So often, a little Vitamin D and fresh air can go a long way for your tired body. Spend at least 10 minutes outside every day, especially on those hard days. Plus, you can let your toddler run around or get adventurous on the playground, which will get him or her good and tired for bedtime.
5. Go to the library. Find someplace comfortable, and let them explore all the books. Also, a lot of libraries have great kids areas with games and puzzles. Getting out of the house will do both of you a load of good, and they will probably entertain themselves for a while. (Tip: Find out when your library does story time. It will give you a solid 45 minutes where someone else will entertain your child!)
6. Ask for help. Your body is going through a lot of changes during pregnancy, and it can slow you down. So if you feel like you need help, ask for it -- whether it's to help with errands or preschool drop-offs or watching after your little one while you get a little time for yourself or for a nap.
7. Nap when your toddler naps. Speaking of nap, most toddlers still nap, which means you get some time to get some sleep during the day too! If you don't feel like napping, you can lie down or take a bath -- anything that allows you to rest your body.
8. Keep it easy. Pregnancy takes a lot out of you, so be patient with yourself, and take it easy! If you feel like skipping the dishes, so be it! That big pile of laundry sitting by the side of your bed, waiting to be folded? It can wait. Not in the mood to cook? It's ok to order in. And if you need to stay in, you can postpone outdoor activities for your toddler or recruit someone to take your little one to soccer practice or to the playground. In other words: take it day by day, rest when you can, and enjoy this season before the new baby joins the party!
Nicole George is a mom of two, living just outside the bustling city of Atlanta. She love to write, style, travel, and bring simplicity to life. You can find out more about her on by Nicole George, Living the Simple Life.