A few days ago, my neighbor and I commiserated with each other on the difficulties of being pregnant while still being a mother. She is 9 days younger than I and has 7 kids, so she knows a thing or two about being pregnant with kids.
She told me how pessimistic she feels when pregnant--how she remembers all of the hard things about babies and toddlers. Oh yes! I have been feeling that. I have grown to enjoy sleeping restfully. I recently watched a television program that started with a woman waking to a sleeping baby. My heart started to beat a bit faster.
My friend also talked about how the smallest tasks like doing the dishes seem almost impossible. Yep. I feel that one, too.
Oh I know the joys of children. I know the good far outweighs the bad. I also know that when this baby is born, household tasks will once again be no big deal (not fun, but also not Everest). I know I will sleep again soon enough.
When you are pregnant, however, things can be a lot more difficult.
My husband and I went into this pregnancy with eyes wide open. We knew what we were in for. We knew what it would mean for me (basically sick and from my perspective worthless around the house) and what that would therefore mean for him (assuming lots of my roles). I am very lucky. My husband has got to be one of the five best husbands in the history of the world to have when you are pregnant--maybe even THE best. He really steps in and takes over everything he can for me around the house. He cooks and he cleans. He watches me closely and if he thinks I look too tired, he sends me to bed early and puts all three kids to bed by himself. He tells me I am doing a great job and that I am not worthless. Seriously great.
Anyway, we knew what we were in for because we have done this several times before.
I pleaded in prayer to be able to have one good pregnancy--just one easy pregnancy. Not asking a lot! I have been blessed to have an easier pregnancy so far as my pregnancies go, but still not easy. After much pondering, I know hard pregnancies are what the Lord wants for me to help me become a better person and a better mother. So I have accepted it. It is just what pregnancy is for me.
I, of course, came into this pregnancy with a plan on how to be as little of a burden as possible on the people around me (mostly my husband). I also wanted desperately to be able to be a mother to my children. I wanted to at least have the functioning to not only take care of their physical needs, but emotional, spiritual, and educational. I have been able to do at least that!
Now, to the plan. How do you manage to be pregnant and take care of your kids at the same time? We all know that moms don't get to be sick or tired; our kids still need us. But we also know we need to take care of ourselves, and that for some, functioning is a challenge when pregnant.
Tips for Being Pregnant While Still Being Mom
Don't you just hate this tip? It is such an annoying tip. But it is a very valid tip. You need to accept help from your husband, mom, friends, and even your kids. You aren't superwoman and you can't do it all. You happen to be growing a human inside of you, and that at best takes your energy and at worst takes your energy and makes you incredibly sick.
I have more help than ever before during this pregnancy. My neighbor randomly brings me food because she knows it is hard to eat food you have made yourself when you are pregnant. My friend (holla Serra!) has McKenna over to her house once a week to play while my other two are at school. Add my husband and my kids and I am in good shape!
I also have a lot of people who offer to help that I never take up on. The people who help me are smart enough to just do it without asking me if I need help--they are tricky :). So I am terrible at taking the advice I give here, but I still find it to be good advice :).
Food can be very miserable to face when you are sick, and not fun to make when you are tired.
Meal planning has been one of the best things for us this pregnancy. A lot of women make a stock of freezer meals before the baby is born. Well, this time I made a bunch of freezer meals before my first trimester sickness hit. As soon as I got pregnant, I would choose at least one meal each week to double. Then we froze half for later.
My neighbor and her husband plan on going out to eat once a week when she is pregnant--they consider it part of the expense of pregnancy. I thought this was an excellent idea.
I created a basic plan to follow each week to make dinner easier.
1-One night, have a freezer meal
2-One night, do a slowcooker meal
3-One night, have a very simple meal (like spaghetti, tacos, etc.)
4-One night, have a meal that is made by DH
5-One night, have breakfast for dinner
6-One night, go out to dinner
7-One night, have a nice meal made by me (I hoped I would have at least one good night a week)
8-One night, have leftovers
I have 8 categories. This way, we can drop one each week and have a bit of variety. This plan really has helped meals be less of a burden and also helped us to have a nice variety to our meals even though I am pretty much out of commission.
Get Sleep or Rest
I try to take a nap every day. It really helps me to have the energy I need to take care of my kids while I am solo. I know this can be hard to do with children (oh I know it!). Even just laying down for 30 minutes in the same room my girls are playing in helps my energy level.
Also, be sure you get enough sleep at night.
Get Out of the House
My spirits are boosted when I get out of the house and see the world moving forward as usual. I rarely want to leave. I prefer to wallow in my sick misery at home. My husband, however, forces me out, and I am so glad when he does because it brings me back to reality. So I find getting out (even just to swimming lessons) helps me stay in touch with who I really am, which helps me to be a better mom.
Teach and Encourage Independence
Pregnancy is a great time to evaluate what your child can and cannot do indpendently. You then decide what your child should be adding to that skill set and let her do it. I am always in a lot less of a rush when I am pregnant, so it is a great time for me to let my toddler try to put her shoes on by herself for 15 minutes. I am happy to sit on the couch and let her be so occupied for 15 minutes :)
Not only does independence help you now in pregnancy, it will be very important to you when you have a newborn. Pregnancy is the time to get your child to where she should be on her skill set.
Have Structure in Your Day
Have a routine you attempt to follow each day. This will give you periods to rest, periods for snacks, and periods to put that energy forth to get things done. I also find it very helpful to have a routine in place before baby comes--then you add baby to that routine, so it makes the transition to a new sibling easier on your other children.
Cut Back Where You Can
Pregnancy is not the time to add things to your task list--in fact it is a good time to cut back where possible. Take things slower. One example in my life is our vegetable garden. My husband and I have talked about what size of garden we can manage with me not being able to help out so much. We have planned to cut back the number of plants we plants and even the types of plants we plant.
Along the same lines, realize that you most likely will not be able to keep up with everything you used to--at least for a portion of the pregnancy. Your flower beds might get more weeds. Your house might get more clutter than you like.
Stick to Necessities
This moves me to just focus on the necessities. Put your energy into the things that really matter to you.
Also, try to figure out how to best use your energy. When I am having a day when I feel like I need to just sit, I still try to get things done I would like done I can do sitting.
There you have my 8 tips on functioning as a mom while being pregnant. I would love to hear any tips you might have!