The first trimester is rough, add in a toddler and it can become a massive challenge. Of course it is possible. Millions (or billions probably?) of women have made it through. If you are just starting your first trimester of pregnancy while also parenting a toddler, I wanted to share a few of the survival tips I have learned along the way.
Give yourself some grace
Before I was pregnant, my son got pretty much no screen time during the day. The TV typically only only came on when my husband came home from work. I’ve shared that this first trimester has been really rough for me. When I first started to get sick, I leaned heavily on my friend Mickey Mouse. My son isn’t yet at an age where he can entertain himself for the better part of the day. So, on the rougher days, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is on pretty much all day long. He doesn’t stay glued to the TV by any means. However, when he gets bored playing by himself it attracts his attention and he will sit quietly and watch for a while.
I am fully aware that screen time is probably not the best thing for his mental development. But I am also just trying to keep both of us alive. It was hard for me to accept how much TV I was letting him watch at first. That said, it allowed me to get through the bad days…and that is really what matters in the end.
You are raising a very needy little human WHILE growing an even needier, smaller human in your own body. Give yourself some grace! It’s ok if they watch a little too much TV. It is ok if most of their meals are from the freezer or a box. If your house looks like an unmitigated disaster for a few weeks (or even months – I don’t judge) that is ok too! You deserve a little breathing room to get yourself and your toddler through the first trimester.
Find a caffeine source
If you are anything like me, coffee is what allows me to function. Before pregnancy I would drink several cups every single morning. Like a lot of moms, pregnancy caused me to gag at the very smell of coffee. I could probably write an entire book on why this is a cruel trick by nature to make us hate coffee when we need it the most, but for today I will leave it at that.
It took me a week or so without coffee to realize that I should really try to see if I could find something else to drink that would give me a little boost. I had a feeling some caffeine would probably help with the headaches I was experiencing as well. (Spoiler alert, I was right.)
Now if you are wanting to avoid caffeine during pregnancy, more power to you. I admire your dedication. I am not that dedicated and all my healthcare professionals during both pregnancies have assured me that some caffeine is totally fine.
My saving grace came in the form of hot black tea. With just a little sugar. When I discovered that tea didn’t turn my nose or stomach against me I nearly jumped with joy. Except I was still exhausted so that sounded like way too much work. I also started craving soda, so I bought a pack of Dr. Pepper to enjoy as an afternoon pick me up that every now and then. I usually avoid soda because it makes me bloated…but now I am pregnant and bloat is pretty much my middle name so I don’t care.
For me, I am not even sure if it is actually the caffeine itself, or the idea of a hot drink to start my morning. Either way, enjoying a cup of tea in the morning has been hugely beneficial to my mental wellbeing!
When your friends and family offer help, accept it! I promise that 99% of the time they are not offering out of a sense of obligation. They genuinely want to help. So let them! The first trimester is not a walk in the park and toddlers don’t help.
Now I am the absolute worst at taking my own advice on this one, but I hope you can do better than me.
My husband took off work for my intake appointment. I knew it was just some basic questions and nothing exciting so I felt silly having him do it, but he was able to entertain our son while I got through the appointment. It was amazing. Like I swear when Oliver started throwing a fit and Charlie was able to take him out of the room and let me finish talking with the intake nurse, the skies opened up and angels started singing. If you are the mom of a toddler you know exactly what I mean.
A friend offered to keep Oliver while I went in for my first ultrasound. I ended up taking her up on the offer because Charlie wasn’t able to get off work so Oliver wasn’t allowed to go with me anyways. And you know, he had fun and I was able to get through the ultrasound without worrying about how he was doing.
So if someone offers to watch your kiddo, pick up something from the grocery store for you, or anything else, say yes. Accept the help that is offered. Ask for help if you need it.
Sleep when they sleep
Because you didn’t already hear this enough when your child was a newborn right? You rolled your eyes when it was said then and you are probably rolling your eyes now. But hear me out for a second.
The first trimester is exhausting. Toddlers are exhausting. Bad combo right? I usually use my sons nap time as my opportunity to get caught up on things around the house/this blog/all that jazz.
I’m also the world’s worst at napping. I cannot do it and that it sad. So I guess I don’t really sleep when he sleeps, but I do allow myself to rest. This goes bak to the part about giving yourself some grace. By no longer using his nap time to get caught up, things didn’t get done around the house on on my blog. But laying down and closing my eyes while my son napped was more important to me. And the world didn’t stop spinning, so I am living proof that it will all be ok if you let yourself get some rest instead of trying to hustle while your kid naps. Promise.
Giving myself that time to rest made me feel better overall (at least as much as possible) and I strongly believe it made me a better parent! I was a little more rested and therefore able to give my toddler more of my time and energy when he woke up.
Overall, the first trimester of pregnancy can really really suck and your toddler probably isn’t helping much. You can absolutely get through it though…even on the truly awful days when you lay on the couch thinking you can’t actually do another day of it. It does get better and you are going to be ok! Hopefully some tips on this list will make it a little easier.