7 ways to care for your toddler when you're pregnant

Use these survival tips to stay sane if you’re juggling a pregnancy with a tot who’s running you ragged.

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Remember the first time you were pregnant? What an amazing experience it was. First, you were so excited over getting a positive pregnancy test, then breaking the good news to everyone through a creative pregnancy announcement.

Then came the pampering from family and friends, shopping for maternity clothes (and baby), plus having the luxury of staying in bed all day if you weren’t feeling well. Ahhhh…first pregnancies are the best.

It’s not to say that all subsequent pregnancies aren’t great, but let’s admit it, they will never be that fun and relaxing, ever. Why? Because now you have a little one in tow. Even though your body may be going through changes, life carries on for your tot, and they need you around as much as ever.

Having kids close in age comes with a host of benefits. They will have a playmate from a young age as well as a confidant for life. Everyone anticipates the extra workload that comes with having two young kids. However, many underestimate just how challenging it is to care for an active, growing ― and demanding ― toddler while sporting a bump.

If you’re currently about to go down this road, don’t fret. Plenty of women have done it and lived to tell the tale! Here are some of their go-to tips to survive this challenging time.

The first thing to do, right after you find out you’re preggers with #2, is to immediately lower your expectations for the next nine months and beyond, if you can.

#1 Lower your expectations

The first thing to do, right after you find out you’re preggers with #2, is to immediately lower your expectations for the next nine months and beyond, if you can. You are growing a human being inside of you, while another little person on the outside is demanding all your time and attention. When junior doesn’t get his what he wants, it’s tantrum central all the way. Things are about to get hectic and exhausting to say the least, so don’t expect to be on the ball all the time. You may no longer have the energy to prepare every single one of junior’s meals from scratch, so don’t feel guilty about offering him a simple sandwich or ordering in. Art-and-craft sessions every afternoon were a great way to spend one-on-one time with your tyke, but if you feel like you need to lie down for a bit, don’t think twice about letting junior watch some TV. It’s all about reprioritising and being kind to yourself.

#2 Get help

While we’re on the topic of self-care, know that the best way to take care of yourself is to get extra pairs of hands to shoulder some of your responsibilities. If you’ve been super-mum all this while, it may be harder to scale back, so do it slowly. Start by giving the hubs more responsibilities, especially morning duties. Remember how bad morning sickness was the first time round? You might also want to get someone in to help with cleaning the house, so you use this time to rest or spend with your tyke. You do want to have as much time with him before the baby arrives. And on those days when you just can’t get out of bed, have the grandparents or a trusted friend on speed dial. They will be more than happy to scoop up the little one and bring him to an afternoon at the playground or for some ice cream. We doubt junior will protest.


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#3 Get your toddler involved

Your tot may not understand what it means to be pregnant or have a sibling on the way, but he can still be involved in your pregnancy. And a toddler who is kept busy is a toddler who can’t get up to mischief. Should he suddenly feel like you’re spending less time with him, this is also a great way to boost junior’s morale, which also means he will act up even less. Take him shopping when you’re buying things for bub and get him to help decorate the nursery. You can even invite him to keep you company as you do your morning stretches or exercises. He’ll love trying to copy you. Getting junior to help out means you can tick things off your to-do list, while spending precious time with him.

#4 Prep at night

You can make the most detailed to-do list for the day, but as we all know by now, when a toddler is involved, plans get derailed very easily. That’s why this tip is super useful. Plan and prep for the next day the night before when junior is asleep. So, prep meals, shop for groceries, pay your bills online, set out clothes for the next morning and catch up with work, if you need to. So, the last thing you want to do after a long day with your little one is extra work, but doing as much prep work will ensure you’ll have a smoother time the next morning. Give it a go and see if it works out for you.

On days when you feel like you just can’t do it anymore, remind yourself that it won’t be too long until baby arrives and all this will be a distant memory.

#5 Encourage junior to play independently

This will be tricky if your little one is younger than 18 months, because it’s only around that age that they start independent play. Any younger and they’ll want you around all the time ― even when they’re in the playpen. But you can still try to encourage independent play in junior. Leave interactive toys out where your kiddo can see them, so he’ll show some interest in them. Start by sitting down with him as he plays, but move away after a while, maybe to the couch where you can still see him play. Most children are okay with independent play as long as their caretaker is somewhere within their line of vision. Soon, you can lie back and rest while your peewee potters around by himself.

#6 Take care of yourself

It’s easy to forget about the baby you haven’t met whien you’re taking care of your toddler 24/7. Keep reminding yourself that your growing foetus also needs your attention and don’t put your health on the backburner while caring for your toddler ― it will affect your unborn child. Stay fit, eat healthily and keep yourself hydrated. If you’re feeling unwell or are in pain, don’t neglect the warning signs. See your doctor regularly and listen to her advice if she tells you to go on bed rest. There are plenty of things you and junior can do together while your feet are up. Bring out the iPad if you have to ― a mum’s got to do what a mum’s got to do, right?

#7 Keep reminding yourself that this, too, shall pass

Going through pregnancy and its many challenges, with a mini-me along for the ride, is challenging. Only other mums will understand how you feel because they may also be going through it. So, on days when you feel like you just can’t do it anymore, remind yourself that it won’t be too long until baby arrives and all this will be a distant memory. You may even miss it, someday, but until then, you might want to count down the days till you welcome the newest member of the family.

Photos: iStock

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