>>I’ve also wanted to ask you…..How do you deal with all the wonderfulness of early pregnancy and still keep your household running smoothly? I’m talking about the all-day nausea and the overwhelming tiredness that comes along with early pregnancy as your body adjusts? This time, I’ve just found it so overwhelming to keep everything running smoothly – kids occupied, meals prepared and a semi-neat house…..any tips? It is a most wonderful time and I feel such gratitude for another baby …its just challenging to keep everything going when all I want to do is sleep <<
During my last pregnancy at about four months along, a friend who is now a grandmother told me I should write a post about how to deal with the early stage of pregnancy with a house full of kids. I made a note of it, but with other questions actively coming in that I was answering and no one else who had asked about it, the topic didn’t make it onto my priority list.
With my last pregnancy, I was so tired and I felt like I didn’t do anything but rest. I would look at things that needed to be done but not feel able to summon the energy to do more than look at them, not even enough energy to want to do them! It wasn’t a great feeling that things weren’t running the way I wanted them to. But the real issue wasn’t how the house was running, but how I felt about the house running!
We have to give ourselves some mental acceptance that at the early stage of pregnancy, you are supposed to be resting lots ! Your body is making a huge adjustment from non-pregnant to pregnant, and is expending a lot of energy on this process. As long as your children are safe, it’s okay for the house to run at your absolute minimum standard. It will only be for a short time, even though when you’re looking at the mess and it feels chaotic, it doesn’t feel like a short time.
But the reality remains that even if you accept that it’s the time to do less, there still remain other children needing to be taken care of, and a house to run at that minimum standard, so it’s not like we can pull the blankets over your head and stay in bed oblivious to everything else for three months until you’re feeling more energetic. What I’ve written about the postpartum stage is relevant here – lower your expectations as much as you can, do the minimum, and accept as much help as you can.
Sometimes you can find a teenager that is available to help out which will drastically be of help – my dd14 and dd15 were helping someone in the early stage of pregnancy who has particularly challenging pregnancies almost every day this summer with her children and doing light housework. The grandmother was happy to pay for it since she saw the house falling apart and the pressure it was putting on the couple. If you have this possibility, use them to do whatever you need the most help with. The woman they were helping really needed help with housework but was embarrassed to ask them or for them to see her mess. I told my girls to just start doing whatever they saw that needed to be done, and gave them a script to convince the woman to accept their help that went something like this: “We enjoy cleaning – we do it all the time at home and we’re happy to do it now.”
If you can’t find a teenager or other paid help, or it’s not in the budget, then look for other areas to simplify. Can you buy paper plates so there’s a minimum of dishes to wash? What about making the easiest meals possible? Cold cereal or oatmeal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, cottage cheese and hardboiled eggs with vegetable sticks for dinner? Ask your husband to keep the laundry running by putting a load in the washer before he leaves in the morning and another before he goes to sleep at night (two loads is what I need to do to keep things running smoothly but you probably don’t need that), and sticking each wet load into the dryer at that time. Have him bring the dry laundry to where you can sit with the kids to sort it, maybe on the couch.
Accept that it’s okay to be an adequate mother. I think a big part of what we beat ourselves up with is that we have these high standards and we feel inadequate about when we don’t meet them. You don’t have to be doing tons of crafts, baking, or exciting outings to be a wonderful mother. Take the time to be present with your kids when you are interacting with them, and they will feel loved and secure, even if you’re not up and about like usual.