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Surviving Pregnancy with a Toddler

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Toddler and Mom's Pregnancy Belly
Photo © Katrina Wittkamp/Getty Images
Being pregnant can be hard work, particularly in the first trimester. Early pregnancy is known to bring out the worst in nearly everyone. Between the exhaustion and the morning sickness, there is very little left to care for another child. And yet, so many mothers manage to do it every day. What’s their secret?

Do you remember your first pregnancy? You napped whenever you could. You let things slide, because your partner could care for themselves. Not so when your toddler is around. You have to be on your toes and able to take care of them rather than nap at will.

Here are some tips for caring for a toddler when you’re not feeling so well yourself:

  • Plan accordingly.
    If you know that morning is your worst time as far as how you feel goes, plan to get more done at night. If you have pregnancy insomnia, this might even be more helpful to plan to get stuff done when you’re awake and maybe other people aren’t. Shifting your schedule to meet how you feel is probably the wisest move that requires the least amount of philosophical changes.

  • Lower your standards.
    Remember that you are busy. You are growing another baby. You aren’t being lazy. You are truly physically feeling something that is preventing or making it difficult for you to accomplish all the tasks at hand. Slack a bit. If it takes you two weeks to get around to changing the sheets or if you let the laundry pile up a bit, the world will not fall apart.

  • Revise your thinking.
    Now, I’m not talking about locking yourself in your room and letting your toddler have free reign over here. But if you have previously thought that your older toddler shouldn’t watch television, maybe now is the time to allow a bit of television be helpful. One mom I know would turn on a series of baby music videos, but turned the television off. When she felt a wave of nausea coming she turned the television on while she ran to the bathroom. Another mother swore by resting for a half an hour in front of a baby-friendly show with her toddler on her lap. What could you do with something like this that, wouldn’t completely change how you think or feel? Do you have a bucket of toys that were well loved but that only came out when your toddler needed a break? What about a DVD that you could live with?

  • Utilize your resources.
    Your partner is the obvious answer. Helping with additional chores, including laundry and cooking can be a big help. Your friends and family might also be a place to turn to for help.

    If you have the ability, find help. This could mean that you have a friend who agrees to help you with childcare occasionally for you to get a nap in. Or it could be that you decided that now would be a good time for a mother’s day out program. Some families find that hiring a teen in the neighborhood to come over after school helps. Some use the teen for childcare while they nap or get some chores done, while others use the teen to do the chores. There is also hiring a maid service, even if it’s just to come in and do the heavy lifting – the floor scrubbing and toilet scrubbing once a month. This can keep the house under control and away from a public health hazard until you feel better.

Readers Respond: How did you handle a pregnancy while dealing with other kids?

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