One of the hardest jobs is trying to be a mum while you are sick and exhausted. Pregnancy can come with emotional changes, irritability, fatigue, and mood swings. So, being pregnant when you have already got a little one demanding your attention can be super difficult. So how can you survive your next pregnancy when you have a toddler?
Drop the Mum Guilt.
Firstly, be gentle with yourself and lower your expectations. Acknowledge that growing another baby is exhausting work. You are physically experiencing something that is making it difficult for you to achieve your pre-pregnancy routines in the same timeframe.
Secondly, play with your toddler in ways you can manage with resources you already have. There are many activities you can do from the comfort of the sofa or floor. Things like puzzles, imaginative play, board games, I spy, reading, or colouring.
Some imaginative play ideas could be:
having a tea party
playing hospitals where you´re the patient who gets to lay down.
Finally, remind yourself that the priority is your health and wellness and the needs of your growing family. The laundry pile or dishes can wait if you´re feeling exhausted.
Preparation is Key!
Plan activities to keep your toddler entertained. You can be lacking in energy but, still give your toddler love and attention. It just may look differently to the high energy activities you did pre-pregnancy. Have some activities that are low-prep, low mess and engaging pre-prepared. I will share my top five favourites with you.
Send your child on a scavenger hunt around the house. The best part of this activity is you can do it from the sofa but, your little one is burning off a little energy. Ask them to five red things and progress through various colours. Then you could move into finding objects of various shapes or sizes.
Note, if you want to keep the activity contained to a smaller area, you could have post-its on various surfaces of the area you want them searching in. Just remember to make sure they are at your child´s height.
Meditation for Mum and Toddler
Meditation is a good way to relieve anxiety or stress for both mother and toddler. Get comfortable somewhere like the sofa. Read a meditation slowly and calmly like this short meditation here.
I love this activity because it is a way you can still connect with your child but rest at the same time.
I Spy (sticker version)
To begin, your child can prepare a piece of paper by covering it in stickers. This is great for their fine motor skills and gives you quiet time. I recommend you laminate it as there is a good chance your toddler will try to peel them off.
Moreover, this version of I spy is a fun and playful way to build working memory, visual discrimination and vocabulary that can be used repeatedly.
Furthermore, I prefer this version of I spy because you can personalise it for your child´s needs. Make sure the stickers you give them are developing vocabulary that your child is working on and easy for them to peel off. The above example can be used to develop shape, colour, or size vocabulary.
Threading is a great way to use resources you already have to keep your toddler busy. If you do not have pasta and pipe cleaners as pictured above, there are many alternatives. For example, you could thread toilet rolls onto a ribbon or beads onto string.
Select materials that are easy for your toddler to manage on their own. If your toddler has not developed good fine motor control yet, choose materials like toilets rolls (large hole) and a ribbon (thicker thread). This ensures they can complete this activity independently.
This type of activity is popular because it is both beautiful and mess-free. All you need is some contact paper, marker, and some small pieces of paper. The reason I suggest contact paper is that it is sticky so, your toddler will not need help with glue. This trick allows this activity to be completed independently.
You could display this artwork in the window of the new sibling. It is a lovely ´DIY gift´.
In conclusion, being pregnant whilst having a toddler is tough. The key is acknowledging that and having a plan for when you are feeling exhausted. Toddlers are an abundance of energy and having some ideas of how you can entertain them in those moments can save your sanity. Have you got a plan to survive your next pregnancy when you have a toddler?
About the Author:
Lisa Forsythe is the multi award-winning author of Simple Activities for Toddlers. She aims to inspire others with play-based activities to keep their toddlers busy whilst creating beautiful life-long memories together.