SAHM: Taking Care of Toddlers and Tackling the First Trimester
After enduring a year-long pandemic of being cooped up in our homes, I think everyone finally appreciates how grueling it is to wrangle children all day -- especially young children. Now try being a stay-at-home mom to toddlers while also enduring pregnancy and you've arrived at a whole new level of hard!
Last year, I was well into my stint as a stay-at-home mom. I’d been doing it for a few years and I knew the drill. I managed to survive the COVID shutdown with my little ones at home, and then, just as everyone was starting to crawl out of their COVID holes, I found out I was pregnant. We were thrilled about it, but it has definitely been challenging this time around.
And my children are totally over it! They're over being cooped up because of the pandemic; they're over being cooped up because of winter; and they are definitely over being (you guessed it) cooped up because of their nauseous, pregnant mom! So I’ve had to get a bit creative to keep everyone happy, and at the very least, sane and alive!
Here are three tips that helped me while I was dealing with the chaos of raising toddlers and battling the first trimester of pregnancy:
1. Avoid the Mess
Some of my kids' most requested activities are super messy. While I love indulging them with fun crafts and creative activities, this phase of life is not the time for that. So we put up the paint, sensory bins, and slime for a few months and kept it tidier with crayons and simple blanket forts.
Minimize exhausting cleanup by busting out any stored up toys, pulling all the books down to their level, and giving them more opportunities for imaginative play. The goal is to keep the big messes at bay so you don’t feel the need to follow behind them and clean. You can sit back and take it easy while they practice playing independently.
2. Turn to the Great Outdoors
My kids could spend all day outside, so I let them. Okay, we're not outside the entire day, but we have utilized the outdoors heavily during these first few months of my pregnancy -- even the cold months! I learned about the power of a jacket and blanket, and I would snuggle up in a chair and watch them race laps around our driveway on their bikes.
Take advantage of the outdoor space around your home or a nearby park! As it warms up, Iet your little ones dig in the dirt, chalk up the sidewalk, and run wild in the yard or at the park. Not only will it fill up your day with easy entertainment, but as a huge bonus, your kids will be well exercised, worn out, and ready for bed by nighttime!
3. Embrace Survival Tactics
When all else failed, when I literally didn’t have anything left in me for the day or week, a movie marathon was my means of survival. I’m not ashamed to say that there were some days we watched TV for hours.
When exhaustion hits its peak or when the sickness won't subside, sometimes it is all you can do to turn on the TV and let it keep your kiddos busy -- and that is okay! Whether it is three hours of nonstop Paw Patrol or dance parties to YouTube music videos, there are times when taking the “easy” way out is exactly what you need to do!
If I'm being honest, this phase of life right is the absolute hardest. My two-year-old is a full-blown terror most days, and my four-year-old is picking up bad habits to compete with the attention her sister is getting. Most days I’m completely overwhelmed before noon.
It's easy to let the mom guilt seep in, to feel like we're not doing enough. And it can be overwhelming for you and your kids knowing that big changes are in the forecast. But remember that our health is also important. Our sanity is important. We're growing another human! We need to give ourselves some grace, and let our kids will adapt to changes thrown their way.