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Beating pregnancy fatigue while raising a toddler tips

Written By | Aug 3, 2013

Silver Spring, Md, August 3, 2013 – At some point your sweet bundle of joy becomes a more independent person, one who sleeps through the night, has tons of energy during the day and actively demands your attention with play or reading.  What better time to get pregnant?

Many mothers plan their families in a manner which results in pregnancy while they have a toddler.  While evey family’s reasons for having children when they do is different, what seemed like a good idea at the time, may have you questioning your sanity when the first trimester fatigue sets in and you cannot stay awake, let alone keep up with the bundle full of energy that is soon to be an older sibling.

Here are some tips to help you make it through.

Sleep when your toddler sleeps

This may sound familiar. It is the same advice you were given when your baby was born, and it may sound just as crazy.

By the time you have a toddler, the amount of time he spends asleep is much less than that of a newborn. He sleeps at night, and maybe he still takes a nap midday. Of course, you are going to sleep at night. And that nap?

Well, if you are not at work, then chances are you have been using that time to clean, read, or just have a few peaceful moments to yourself.

The bottom line is that as a toddler’s time sleeping diminishes, that time becomes even more important to parents for household tasks or some rare time to themselves.

Take advantage of your toddler’s naps and sleep when he sleeps. Photo by spader via Flickr.

However, your health and your new baby’s health is more important than getting the dusting done, catching up on your favorite TV show, or finishing the beach read that everyone has been raving about.

So, once your little one hits the sack you should too. Remember, it is only for a few weeks. That energy drain is your body trying to grow a baby and a placenta. Once the placenta is established, you should feel more energized and be able to get back to a more normal routine.

Avoid sugary foods

While this can also go under the category of general advice, it can also help fight fatigue. Since you should be avoiding caffeine, especially in large doses, you may be missing that extra energy boost and think that giving into a little chocolate craving might both satisfy your sweet tooth and give you a little extra pep in your step.

The problem is that while sugar may give you a small boost, it will drain you fast afterwards. Instead, reach for a protein packed snack, such as almonds, hummus, or Greek yogurt. Foods high in protein have been shown to give you a natural energy boost that lasts longer than that of sugar and does not result in the same crash.

Play with your toddler

Getting exercise is a common prescription for finding energy reserves, and toddlers notoriously have tons of energy. The best way to manage this is to get outside and find ways to let the little one burn off some of his reserves that gets you some exercise as well.

Maybe play a game of soccer in the backyard, or go for a walk at a park.  If you have a little one that likes to dance, try putting on some up-beat music and have an in-house dance party.

Playing with your child is a great way to get exercise and help your little one burn off energy. Photo by Richard Leeming.

Finding ways that get both of you moving helps with managing the fatigue in two ways.

First, it gets your blood pumping  and gives you the pick-me-up that exercise offers, and second, it provides an opportunity to tire out your toddler so nap time might last a little longer, giving you a few extra minutes of sleep as well.

Ask for help

This is usually the hardest part for most moms. Having a young child can be tough, and sometimes you feel like you do not want to be an imposition on those around you, but the truth is your friends and family will understand the challenges of being pregnant and having a toddler at home.

Do not be afraid to ask for small favors.

See if you can schedule a playdate with the sole purpose of dropping off your child for a couple of hours so you can catch-up on some sleep.  Ask for simple dinner recipes that you can prepare quickly without much effort. Take advantage of offers to babysit so you can do laundry or clean the bathroom without a toddler underfoot.

If all else fails, splurge a little and hire a cleaning service for the few weeks that you are too tired to move.

While you may find yourself questioning whether you were really this tired in your last pregnancy, remember, you have an extra demand on your energy reserves and time now. Having a toddler while pregnant can be challenging, but with a little forethought and help you can make it through.

Brighid Moret also writes children’s picture book reviews at Big Reads For Little Hands. Read more about parenting issues in Parenting the First Time Through at The Communities at The Washington Times.

Brighid Moret

Brighid is a freelance writer, mother and reader. She holds an MA in Writing from Johns Hopkins University. Find her on Twitter @BrighidMoret, or follow @BigReadsLittleH for the latest children's book reviews.