Having a second baby with a toddler? Or a third? At this point, you might be remembering your first pregnancy with increasing fondness. Previously, you had lots of time to relax outside of your work and household responsibilities. Now you will need strategies to get through morning sickness and fatigue while parenting.
Establish New Routines
Work on establishing invaluable daily routines for your own household and with your toddler. Use a pencil and large day planner to work out a strategy for everyday. Create a family/household binder with your routine ideas. Start to try and incorporate them into daily life. See how they work for you. Some people prefer using their smart phone calendar as a planner this way, but it can be a lot to type out.
- Pick out your clothes for the next day as well as your toddlers. This is a great time to establish an easy stay-at-home mom clothes “capsule” or “daily uniform”. Buy 2-3 pairs of pants that will fit throughout pregnancy and some shirts that match all the pants. Pick a pair of comfy shoes. Mascara. Lip gloss. Voile!
- When in your schedule will you get at least 10-15 minutes of exercise? This can be as simple as walking in place, doing a Youtube prenatal yoga video, or dancing around your living room.
- When will clean-up times be? Laundry time? Cooking for dinner? And what’s for dinner? See our meal-planning strategies for more ideas on how to quickly meal plan.
- When will bedtime be? What will be your bedtime routines, and who will help with what during them?
- How about your morning routine? What can you get done the night before?
- Write down 1-3 tasks to accomplish for the day. Remember, we are only taking baby steps here.
If you know your morning sickness is at its worst in the evenings or vice versa, plan for chores when you feel better. And don’t plan on getting too much done in the first place. A few tasks a day and you will stay on top of what’s most important.
A lot of people have found successful routines in self-help books or online programs that help with organizing your household. What routines have worked for you? Consider submitting your own story or routine!
Having a Second Baby With a Toddler Requires Asking for Help
Never underestimate the value of identifying and enlisting your “village” for extra help during this exhausting time.
- Make a list of all that has to get done around the house on a daily basis. Can you temporarily shift more household responsibilities to your husband or partner? Maybe other members of the family can take on a few more chores, a couple dinners during the week or dad can take over the nightly bedtime rituals. Going thru the list together will help each of you see how you are contributing and how you are each making sacrifices for the family.
- Which relatives are around? Can you ask them for weekly or biweekly help with your firstborn? Even something simple such as asking them to bring your older child to the library or out for ice cream once a week can make a huge difference.
- Making a trip to a relatives house for a few hours can be a great way of getting somewhat of a break. Are your parents or in-laws around? Stop by for a visit, let them play with their grandchild a bit while you sit back for a bit. Maybe they will be interested in giving you all dinner or ordering out together.
- Do you know another mom who would love some free time? Trade off a day each week where you have both kids, then the next week she has both kids. It may seem like more work having two kids rather than your usual one, but actually the kids will most likely play together, leaving you to kind of relax and be able to look thru a magazine or something while they are playing. This idea is at least worth a try, especially if you know a friend your child plays particularly well with.
- Are you a member of a gym with free childcare? Can you join one? There’s no law that says you have to be going crazy physically exerting yourself while your child is there. You can take a prenatal yoga class, or walk slowly on a treadmill while watching your favorite show, or even lounging in the lazy lanes of the pool and enjoying feeling weightless for a bit. Don’t forget to shower and take your time applying a little makeup in the huge mirrors before you go to collect your child!
- Look for “Mother’s Day Out” programs or drop-in childcare services in your area. You can drop off your child for a few hours while getting some errands done or some rest on days when you feel your absolute worst.
- Look for high-school students in the neighborhood who may want to make some extra money by coming over after school to play with your child for a few hours. Or, consider having them do the household chores while YOU have some time to rest or play with your firstborn child one-on-one. What about a stay-at-home mom you know who may want to earn some extra money by having your child come over every morning or every day after nap time, etc.
- Join a mom support group, social club or online forum and look for more tips and strategies. Connecting with others always helps- you’re not alone with your stress.
Enlist Your Child to Help
- Explain to your child that mommy needs a little extra help lately. From now on, after nap time might be time for your child to practice independent play. Is there a safe area you can create for your child where she can practice puzzles, coloring, looking thru books or playing with his cars or dolls? Perhaps there can be toys that only come out during this time of day. If your child is old enough this can be a great time to organize some stuff for new baby, pull out and sort through old baby clothes, or do research online regarding what you still need to do before baby comes.
- Come up with a list of low-key activities your child can do nearby or with you, while you mainly sit on the couch for a bit. Can they have a little extra screen time these days so you can take it easy? Read their favorite books to you? Bring their doctor kit over to you and “examine” you while you are resting on the couch? Play cards or a board game together?
- Don’t be afraid to use a crib, baby gate or playpen to create a safe area your child can play in while you sit nearby enjoying a cup of tea. Take a break.
- If they are not napping anymore, now is the perfect time to start enforcing a strict 1-2 hour “quiet time” each day. Put a baby gate up in their room and have them find their own games to play in their room during this time. Your child may protest loudly at first but if you keep enforcing this day after day, they will soon get the message. This is a great way to help them build up their own imagination as they are forced to actually play with all their different toys and create little scenarios to keep them busy. Just remember to completely child-proof their rooms and expect things to get a little messy during quiet time. Don’t forget to practice a new 10-minute “clean-up” time together after quiet time is over!
- Spend lots and lots of time outside. Watch your child from a deck chair as they play in their sandbox or run around a sprinkler. This will help get all their wiggles and screams out so they are ready to go to bed early.
Having a Second Baby With a Toddler - Be Kind to Yourself
- Remind yourself constantly, you’re not lazy, you’re creating another human being. This is not laziness. There are new, unusual physical demands on your body right now. This is temporary. You’re doing your best to care for the child you already have. The laundry or dishes can wait another day if you need to sit down for a while, and put a video on for your child. Try to focus on getting one or two tasks done by the end of the night before plopping down on the sofa or heading straight to bed.
- Consider going back to the “sleep when baby sleeps” adage. Take a daily nap with your child during your pregnancy. It's great one-on-one cuddle time. And helps energy levels. Or consider using this time to do purely relaxing things. Listen to a podcast, read for fun, or catch up on your shows. Remember, the more you rest and replenish yourself, the more you can give your child one-on-one attention or contribute to the household responsibilities.
- What can you avoid doing as much as possible? Now is a great time to try out a grocery delivery service, the money you save on carefully planning meals at the beginning of the week or avoiding impulse buys can more than make up for the fees for having someone else do this chore for you. Better yet, is there any way to afford an actual meal delivery service for a few months? Can you have diapers or other items delivered online? Now is a great time to switch to paper plates for a while.
- Look for local mother’s helpers, or make room in the budget for some new services that help you get through this time. With a little wiggling you can hire a house cleaner, laundry service, a babysitter or babysitting co-op, or start looking for a preschool your child can start attending.
- Ask your husband to switch off one night a week with you, where you can go get your nails done, sit in a coffee shop reading a book or surfing the internet, or going to see a movie, alone. Or have this be the night you meet with a friend or go to a support meet-up.
Don’t forget, in a few months, maybe a year, everything will be calmer and you will have new routines that work and give you a sense of control over the new chaos that has come. You will be able to take this on and slowly feel great about your daily life.
How did you manage life with a little one while pregnant? Leave a comment here, or a helpful tip in our upcoming discussion boards. We’d love to hear your whole story if you feel it could help others…head over to our page for submitting your own story, you never know how you can make a difference.
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