Caring for a toddler while pregnant is no easy feat. Learn how to survive the exhaustion during this demanding time with a few pivotal tips.
Never did I ever really consider how challenging it would be caring for a toddler while carrying another baby in my womb.
When I found out I was expecting again, I knew two kids would be more work than one. What I didn’t realize was from that moment on, I was met with the extra challenge of splitting time between feeding/changing/carrying/disciplining/playing with a very demanding toddler while attempting to care for the new life forming inside my body.
Why so challenging you might ask?
Here are a handful of reasons and things you have to tackle simultaneously:
- coping with morning sickness that goes beyond the first trimester
- fighting the exhaustion from your toddlers 6/7 am wake up call or midday urge to roughhouse with you and your growing belly
- finding time to eat a nutritious meal while preparing food for your picky eater
- managing to even cook yourself a meal while making sure your toddler doesn’t eat the dog’s food, climb into the fridge or break through the baby-proofed areas of your home
- spending an hour wrestling with a toddler just to change a diaper and get ready for bed
And I know raising twins or multiples must be an immense challenge in itself for new mothers to face, but at least with two babies (minus the big belly) you can tackle things a bit more fluidly without having to worry about your own body too much. Plus, it’s a bonus for baby to have a 24/7 buddy to play with when needed!
What I don’t think many people truly understand is how equally challenging it is to have toddler in the midst of the terrible-twos while you try all you can to protect and nourish your own body and unborn child. Let me just say it is HARD. Realizing this, I wanted to put together a few tips for other moms going through the thick of things as they prepare for baby #2. Tips to let them know they can get through it all…with support.
Tips for Surviving Pregnancy While Caring for a Toddler
Let go of expectations.
Forget about having an immaculate home…at least for now. You are totally within your right to slack off a bit and you shouldn’t feel guilty. With so much going on in your life keeping a perfectly clean house isn’t always possible if you are doing it alone. If you are hell-bent on getting that clean home appearance however, check out my easy tips for tidying up.
Prep for the morning, the night before.
I wish I had taken this piece of advice earlier in my pregnancy – makes perfect sense and would have helped immensely! If you find yourself in the same predicament every morning (i.e. no time to make food for yourself while watching the little one) prepare something in advance which you can easily heat up in the morning. Whether it’s just pre-slicing fruit or boiling an egg at least you can have some type of nutrient-rich food waiting for you when you need it most.
Find activities to keep your toddler busy.
Teaching your toddler independent play is SO important as you prepare for the arrival of baby #2. Whether it’s setting up quiet activities for him or her while you relax or even letting them watch some tv for a little while, you’ll NEED that time to regain your energy. This busy board activity and toddler-friendly Melissa & Doug puzzles were a sanity-saver that easily gave me 15-20 minutes to rest my feed!!
You can also start introducing the idea of a new baby through books. Below are some of my favorite I’ve used with my kids!
If your toddler still naps, by all means sleep when that baby sleeps! Growing a little one while chasing another one, is exhausting, especially during that first semester and while you experience extra sleepiness and the inevitable morning sickness. Make it a priority to get more sleep during this vulnerable time in your life, mama!
>>Related: How I Survived Pregnancy Fatigue With a Toddler At Home
This is probably the most important piece of advice. You have to be willing to take help that is offered and ASK for it from family and friends when needed.
If you don’t have family near, hiring help can be a life-saver! Ask neighbors, check sites like SitterCity.com or Care.com for someone who can lend a hand a few hours a week — you don’t have to break the bank.
Otherwise your task may seem even more insurmountable. Even if it’s just an hour to nap or grab a quick bite to eat, making time for yourself is crucial to getting that second-wind and energy to face the everyday challenges you have before you.
Hang in there — it’s a tough season in life, but know you CAN get through it!
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What piece of advice can you add for pregnant mothers raising toddlers?
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Ana, a mom to three rambunctious little boys, has supported hundreds of thousands of women throughout their pregnancy and motherhood journey since 2012 as a blogger and maternal health advocate at MommysBundle.com.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Quinn is 9months and we are trying to decide if we should get pregnant again this fall or wait one more year! It’s hard to see yourself at 9months pregnant and know how difficult it might be! Thank you for your insight! Maybe I could plan ahead and make a bunch of freezer meals for the nights I’m too tired to cook!
Great tips! It is hard being pregnant withal toddler, I am looking forward to doing it again though. We’re hopefully going to start trying for baby number 3 in the fall. 🙂 I’ll have to keep these tips in mind.
The Pinterested Parent says
First off, great picture. I have a hard enough time caring for a toddler now, never mind being pregnant. I was exhausted when I was preggo so I feel for you. Hopefully some day I will be pregnant again. I will definitely remember all your great tips.
Emma @ P is for Preschooler says
After having a toddler of my own, I don’t think I ever could have been pregnant while I also had a toddler! These are great tips – I think it’s so important to lower your expectations. Your house doesn’t need to be clean, you don’t need to play with your toddler all day, you do need to give yourself a break!
I really appreciated your post. My Hubs and I plan to have our next child relatively shortly after our daughter is born in may, just due to my age. Any advice on this subject is really helpful so that I can prepare for what this will be like! I know it will be a challenge but my hope is that if we can make it through the first few years , then as they get older the closeness in age will be a positive! I am a twin and I loved being able to share life with someone my age!
I remember these trying times. I love your suggestions for “letting go of expectations” and “finding support”. It’s so important to have a great support system and not to hold yourself to unrealistic expectations. These can be difficult times and you need to go easy on yourself. Great post! Love your blog. 🙂
Mommy on Demand says
I currently have and 21 months and 15 weeks pregnant, i’m exhausted all the time. I need to use the ask for help more often, i think i can do everything but sometimes mama just needs a 15 minute power nap! Would love for you to come over and join our link party http://mommyondemand.com/happiness-homemade-link-party-10/
I’m kinda of in the same ordeal. Mines is 20 months and I’m currently 24 weeks and working full time. It’s a lot of work but hanging in there reminding myself I’m not the only one that’s done it and that I’m almost there ??
Doula Anne says
This was a great post! I plan to share with my local San Antonio Doula clients 🙂
My fave was the preparing for the day the night before. I did that will all my “subsequents” and we also let mr Rogers rule the day. He was always on at 1pm so lunch has to be made and eaten by then. Mr rogers was the start of quiet time, then naps for those of age, and then we go about the rest of the day. I found that having one inflexible thing (that I had no procrastination power over) during the day helped me to keep the rest of the day in order. 🙂
I LOVE this! I have tried both having nothing inflexible and having everything flexible – and find it hard
To keep up! I’ve just found out that I’m pregnant again, and my daughter is nearly 18 months. So I’m trying to find tips and tricks to make sure everything gets done and that my princess knows that she’s still our little love – and that adding another love doesn’t lessen her share! So the whole one inflexible thing – I’m going to be trying that starting immediately! Do you have any advice regarding potty training? We’re moving within about 2 months, having a baby in about 8 months, and I’m trying to figure out where to fit potty training in so that there isn’t too much change at once! She seems like she’s ready to try though! Ripping her diaper and pants off immediately before pooping or peeing EVERYWHERE in her room…, lol
Thank you for this post. I needed it this morning.
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Thank you so much. My son is 1 and im 6 weeks pregnant and im always exhausted i dont eat much its just always something i just want to sleep a whole day i never knew it wouldd be this hard. And he has so much energy i feel bad because i cant give it back to him. I decided to bring my niece over to keep him busy. I do feel bad about the house being dirty but i just cant. I do find time to take a hour long bath which does some good and my son is on a schedule for nap time so when im warn completely out hes ready for a nap and so am i….im glad im not the only one
For me, I have a 5 year old and a 2 year old. I let them help out as much as possible. My 5 year old is great about taking things to the trash. I do plastic dishes and let her put them in the sink. I have a bin that we put toys that were taken out of the room into and I bring them back into the room. I will sit on the floor and hand her items and tell her where they go so that way I am not bending over and walking back and forth as much picking things up. I’ll even have her get everything in a pile to be sorted. My 2 year old is still learning but she’s getting pretty good at it too. It helps tire them out as well 🙂 Then, I will put some TV on and snuggle as I kick up my feet. Not every day goes great, it’s definitely hit and miss, but those things I have found to help the most.
Totally agree! I have an 18 month old and have less than six weeks to go before baby #2. I totally do the night prep thing as a working mom and swear by it. I recently had to learn that it’s okay to ask for help with picking things up, even from your toddler (they like to be helpful). You may have to change how you play with them, but it’s the fact that you are being with them that is important. Nap time in late second and early third trimester is when to get what you need to get done done, i.e. nursery, and realize that you only have so much time, so when working on a project the house might not be perfect. Lol, I think we all wonder how we survived nausea while changing our childs messy pants. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! Long term, close in age children tend to grow up to be close all their lives. Great post!
I am just starting on this train! 10 weeks pregnant with a 14 month son at home. The struggle is REAL! Nothing more charming than a toddler whacking the bathroom door and yelling “mama mama mama” while you barf.
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Thank you for the post! It’s SO hard to find a balance when juggling a toddler, pregnancy and for me full time work. I’m 39 wks along and my son is 2.5 yr old.
Completely agree with letting go of household chores, but I’m a neat freak and couldn’t handle the mess so I hired help, which has been a godsend!
I do my grocery shopping and meal planning on Sunday while my hubby is out w/ our son. I focus on nutritional foods, but also heavily consider prep/cook time for each meal. I love making meals I can prep in the AM when I have more energy.
If possible find additional childcare for your tot! And/or sign up for mommy & me classes like soccer or gymnastics to get their energy w/o over exerting yourself.
I also has never let my son watch tv or movies before getting pregnant. After he turned two, I let him watch a PBS show on the iPad from 5-530 so I can prep dinner uninterrupted. It’s the most relaxing part of my day!
Do you have any advice on pregnant mothers with toddlers and who work full time? I’m so early in my pregnancy but my very energetic boy is exhausting me. And I’m already exhausted, especially after working 8 hrs As an activity coordinator.
I’m so glad my sister sent me this! I really needed it!! I’m 33wks pregnant right now and have a 20month old little ball of fire that never stops. I’m exhausted, worn out and am a stay at home mom trying to entertain her all day everyday. I do need to lower my expectations. My husband gets home so late every night that he’s not able to help out much and so the weight of the house is on me. Ohhh yes, and were in the middle of construction on our house. Exhaustion is my middle name. I’m going to use your tips starting tomorrow!!! ?? Thank you!
these are good tips. Im pregnant with #2 and I have a 19 month old who is cutting teeth. Some days we are both so exhausted we dont go anywhere or do anything. With it being summer we try to go out but the heat is too much for me and little dude. I was very sick this pregnancy throughout the first and part of the first trimester. In the morning my husband gets up with our toddler and gets him breakfast. This helps me have a few minutes to get myself together. If Im still tired Elmo goes on and I doze off for a bit. I dont always like it but sometimes its the only way I rest. We also do blocks, puzzles, books, these are easy to do from the couch and laying on the floor. I try to spread chores out. Do one load of laundry per day. Run the dishwasher at night before bed. We are getting ready to move as well so Im trying to save up my energy for that. For breakfast I usually grab a banana and a premier protein shake. They are sooooo good and only have one gram of sugar and 30g of protein. The bars are really good too. We also enrolles our son in a 3 day a week toddler school starting this fall, so he can get some social interaction and once baby girl comes I wont be alone with both of them all day everyday.
Oh yes, all of this and more! I just had my baby 3 weeks ago and my first turns 3 next week. What made it especially difficult for me was finding out I was at risk for preterm labor and was placed on modified bedrest. Basically I couldn’t lift heavy objects, I sliding my son, I couldn’t wrestle with him and basically had to take it easy for the majority of the day. Even now that the baby is here, it doesn’t get easier. My son has regressed and wants to be treated like a baby. Jealousy is a thing right now and if he sees me nursing his sister he wants to sit on my lap at that moment or will demand I put her down so he can hug me. He’s been acting out for attention, even though I make sure to spend time with him.
I’m still trying to find my new normal with this new dynamic.
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Erin Monroe says
I currently have a 21 month old and am 33 weeks pregnant. Everyday is HARD. If you are underestimating the abilities of a toddler… DON’T. My daughter gets into EVERYTHING. I’m constantly getting her out of the dishwasher (yes, she opens the door and climbs on top of it.). She takes the dishes out and also uses it to access things on the counter. She does the same with the oven, refrigerator and dryer. She’s tall and also climbs onto the washing machine. She hangs off of the sofa and her high chair, removes books from the bookshelf and throws valuables into the garbage. As much as we try to barricade things she’s very inventive and uses her height to overcome them. If we accidentally leave the bathroom door open she uses her potty stool to play in the bathroom sink and take things off the counter. She wraps herself up in various blankets and drags them all over the place. We’re constantly washing them. I read to her, have learning videos and play her favorite movies, take her to the park and she has a tablet with great learning apps but she hardly naps anymore and I’m EXHAUSTED trying to keep her engaged and out of trouble. The local drop-off services have classes where she can be with other little ones and learn new concepts and activities but cost as much as $129 for 4 – 45 minute sessions. The mommy and me classes are great but that doesn’t give me a break to rest or get other things done. Some local daycares have “flex care” which allows you to drop off your child for a school day as needed. It’s about $250-$300/week of services (About double the regular fee) and you can divide up the 5 days as needed. I will probably have to end up using this option. And I still have my appointments and her appointments. It’s a super busy hands-full life. My mother-in-law helps a lot by taking her while I go to appointments (which she cannot be at as they don’t allow children over 3 months) and taking her for half a day every couple weeks. Our apartment is constantly a mess though we are being consistent with teaching her to pickup after herself – that doesn’t stop her from laying waste to everything in sight. Even in her large playard (we have her a fourth of the living room) she pulls up the foam alphabet puzzle flooring. It takes forever to put it back and it’s extra hard when you’re out of breath with a big belly in your way. She tires out my husband as soon as he gets home from work. I try to keep her at bay so he can decompress a bit but even after that she’s just a handful. What would make this easier is if she was a little older with better communication skills. With her being so outgoing, outspoken, rambunctious and just plain loud (lol) we’re hoping that her little sister due in 6 weeks will be mellow. Btw, of you haven’t read The Birth Order book I highly recommend it. The insight into personalities based on birth order is so interesting and will be very helpful. We’ll be taking the parenting classes offered at our church after #2 arrives. I’d like to do it now but I’m just too tired. I wish you all blessings, love and true mental peace and calm.
Tonia Torres says
I am pregnant with my 2nd baby. And i have a 2 years old baby boy at home. Most of the time my boy trying to go out for play. I am so tried around this. Is there any solution for get him at home?
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