Being pregnant is exhausting but add a toddler to that and you will be wishing for bedtime before 9am.
Coping with a toddler when you’re expecting your second baby is tough, but there are lots of things you can do to help you take care of yourself while taking care of your toddler.
I had terrible nausea with both of my pregnancies. In the first I could just lie down as much as I wanted and relax.
With my second, that just wasn’t an option. I got my husband to help me out wherever possible, but it was tough when my toddler was desperate for my attention and I just had zero energy.
I felt so guilty that my toddler was missing out on doing all of the fun things that she wanted to do, while her mama was snoring on the sofa yet again.
So if you’re in the same boat, this is for you. I’ve got lots of advice and practical things you can do to take care of your toddler without neglecting yourself.
Don’t forget to check out these posts too:
11 postpartum recovery tips with a toddler
25 tips for coping with two under two
The best routine for a baby and toddler
AND do read this post, an open letter to the pregnant mum with a toddler.
Squash the mama guilt
This is one of the most important things you need to do. It’s totally normal to feel guilty because you think your eldest child is missing out on lots of your attention.
You might worry that you’re not taking them to as many fun places anymore, or that you’re way moodier than usual because you’re so tired and hormonal.
I’ve been there and although it sucks, it is all totally normal.
One of the best things about being pregnant with a toddler in tow is that however difficult this period of time is for you, your toddler will not remember a thing. My eldest doesn’t remember a time before her little sister arrived.
Remember that you are giving your toddler a sibling, someone who will be a friend for life. That’s a huge gift and definitely worth a few afternoons of boredom for a lifetime of having the perfect playmate.
Stop beating yourself up. You’re pregnant and that’s a good thing! Be kind to yourself!
It’s OK to rely on screens
Television is still a dirty word among so many people, but I don’t know why.
TV today is so educational and putting your toddler in front of their favourite show for a couple of hours a day is hardly going to do any long-term damage. It certainly hasn’t harmed my two!
If you need a nap, or you’re tired of playing, put the TV on. It is OK to do that! You don’t need to feel guilty for needing the rest (see item one!).
Try some books about siblings
Explaining the huge change that’s about to happen is quite tough when it comes to a toddler. Books about newborn baby siblings can be a good way of introducing your toddler to the concept, and it keeps them occupied in a nice and calm way for a short while.
Whatever book you choose, it’s a nice activity to do together and it can also be a good conversation starter with your toddler about what to expect.
Try some quick prep activities to do at home
You’ll want to focus on no-mess activities if you’re particularly tired, as you don’t want to spend an hour mopping up the remnants of a Picasso-style painting session.
Try this post which has lots of inspiration for easy activities that toddlers will love.
A tough tray or sand box can really help with messy play. Pop it outside and let your child play with sand (I love the kinetic sand as its easier to shape and seems to not be quite as messy) or water.
Encourage independent play
For some reason I always worried about allowing my kids to be bored, and so felt I had to fill every moment of every day with activities I had planned for them.
I now let them be bored way more, and what happens? They complain for a short while, and then they go off and create their own fun.
They pick up toys they haven’t played with for a while, or they create a game between the two of them.
Put out a few toys your child hasn’t seen for a while, or set up a game that they can play on their own. Allow your toddler to become bored and see what they do. It’s amazing how well kids can occupy themselves when they have to.
This allows you to have a sit down in the corner and have a rest.
Be careful when lifting your toddler
You may worry about all of the guidance surrounding the amount of weight you should avoid lifting when pregnant. Of course your toddler is heavy, and awkward when they’re wriggling, so it’s totally normal to be concerned.
The fact is, all pregnant mamas with toddlers cannot avoid lifting their kids! How would we get them out of harm’s way, or change their nappy, or get them in the car?
You will have to lift your toddler, of course, and that’s fine. Remember to bend your knees and lift from your legs rather than your back. If you experience any pain, then stop and put your child down safely.
Order groceries online
Try to cut out the number of journeys that you need to make out of the house.
Meal planning and ordering groceries online is one huge way you can help yourself out.
When I don’t meal plan, we end up going to the supermarket every single day and with the kids in tow it can be such a drain!
Plan ahead every week and get everything you need in. This will save you a tiring journey to the supermarket with your toddler.
Pick activities wisely
Soft play is probably not a great idea when you’re heavily pregnant, unless your toddler is OK with playing without you crawling after them.
The trouble I find with soft play is my kids want me to follow then and join in, which involves crawling and climbing through tight spaces.
Avoid soft play, but encourage your other half to take your toddler there at the weekend so that you can have a nap at home.
If you take your toddler to the playground, choose one that you can manage easily. Something with slides and simple climbing frames, rather than anything too elaborate that will be hard for you to keep up with.
Just slow down
Don’t plan too many things every week. If you’re still working, speak to your boss if you’re struggling to keep up with the pace.
I know this is an extremely difficult conversation to have, but if you’re pushing yourself to breaking point between caring for your toddler, work and being pregnant, something is going to have to give.
You could consider taking your maternity leave early, or asking to work from home at least one day a week.
Most companies have flexible working schemes in place and should accept your requests if they are reasonable.
Eat a good diet
You’ll be trying to do this anyway, but give your body the best chance to keep your energy levels high by following a good diet.
Try to eat lots of fruit and vegetables, and wholegrain rice, pasta or bread. My pregnancy cravings were all about sugar, but I found it left me really sluggish so I tried to eat grapes when I wanted to eat an entire family bar of chocolate! I still indulged in chocolate, I just tried to limit it a bit.
Go to bed early
You’re probably doing this already, but you need your rest more than ever so get an early night as much as possible.
It’s also a good idea to split the morning wake-ups with your partner, so that you can lie-in at least half of the week. At weekends especially you need to get as much rest as you can.
Delegate the chores
Housework is probably the last thing you want to be doing after a day of chasing your toddler around or working.
Try to delegate more jobs to your other half if possible. If not, find a bare minimum cleaning routine that works for you.
I recommend stripping it back to the absolute necessities: Bathrooms once a week, changing bedding once a fortnight, laundry and kitchen surfaces/floors.
Dusting and vacuuming can be done as and when you have the energy. Check out my post about cleaning your house when you have kids.
Toddler tantrums are a nightmare at the best of times, but when you’re pregnant it’s especially stressful and mentally draining.
When it comes to handling my children’s tantrums, I like to try the following.
- Ignore the behaviour. As long as they are safe, I try blank them until they have calmed down.
- Plan ahead. If you can predict potential tantrums, then you can stop them before they happen. Bring snacks with you everywhere, as they are the best distraction from a tantrum.
- Distract them. Either use snacks or toys to divert their attention away from the tantrum. I’ve found I can stop my kids from throwing a tantrum if I start playing with their toys, as it makes them want to do that and have fun instead of crying.
I hope these tips were useful!
My biggest piece of advice is to be kind to yourself, and remember to listen to your body. If it’s telling you to rest, then sit down and spend the afternoon at home!