Navigating Pregnancy with a Toddler: Confessions of a Mediocre Parent

I’m sure many people can relate to the ridiculously high standards you set yourself as a parent with your first born child. From the moment you find out you are pregnant you start developing what I now retrospectively look back on as ‘notions’. These ‘notions’ are the things you are certain you will never do when you have your own baby. They are the sugar coated goals you aspire to, as the perfect parent. You have a strict set of ideas about how you will do things, what your choices as a parent will be and are very definite with yourself that you will never do ‘this’ and never do ‘that’. Ah yes, this all sounds very familiar to me, I was that soldier. I was filled with these said ‘notions’. I was sure I’d stick to my guns and everything would play out just as I had planned. Oh how wrong I was. I have to say I admire naive, pregnant for the first time me, so oblivious to the reality of the journey ahead. Then of course to top it all off, 10 months in I decided to do something to make things that much easier on myself, I only went and got pregnant. Genius.

So here we go, 12 Things Being Pregnant With a Toddler Has Taught Me:

  1. Feeling sick for 14 weeks leads to mediocre parenting coupled with no will to live. When said sickness and nausea finally ends, feeling guilty for being a shitty parent for a further 6 weeks is likely.
  2. Sometimes the easy option is the only option: ‘Oh you don’t want the homemade organic meal I prepared for you?’…’Grand, here have a bit of cheese’.
  3. 20 minutes of television in the morning did not cause my toddler to spontaneously combust. I have now accepted this fact and made peace with it.
  4. It’s ok to accept the help of family and not always have your shit together. When they say they don’t mind, I’m pretty sure they mean it.
  5. Bringing your child for a walk on a lead like a dog becomes a necessity, despite how weirdly hilarious it feels. My inability to walk, not to mention run made this a must.
  6. Teaching your toddler to mimic the dog whilst climbing the stairs is genius, despite the dog like scratching and spontaneous barking that goes with it. When you live in a 3 story house with 4 sets of stairs you come to realise carrying your 2 stone toddler when 9 months pregnant probably isn’t the best idea. Sure who doesn’t love the odd dog like mannerism anyway.
  7. The sympathy train left the station back when No.1 was born, and my other half is so wrapped up in how tired he is with our terrific toddler, I’m pretty sure he forgets I’m growing human life most of the time.
  8. Tears. There have been lots of them. Mostly mine. Being hormonal matched with chronic tiredness does make you act a little crazy….though you will never openly admit this despite the fact you frequently find yourself thinking how unhinged you sound. Toddlers don’t have time for Mommy’s deep rooted emotional episodes, in fact they sniff this type of weakness out and tend to go toddler 2.0 on these days to see if they can break you.
  9. Lowering your standards is probably advisable. Laundry, dishwasher, tidying away toys. As a self confessed clean freak, this took me some time to get used to. Now don’t get me wrong, things still get tidied and put away every evening, I just have to fight the daily urge to continuously walk around after my toddler like a personal one woman clean up crew, persistently clearing the trail of destruction he leaves behind.
  10. Teaching your toddler to love cleaning and tidying is the best thing imaginable. In the last few weeks, Luke has come to love playing with the pan and brush more than his cars. He hoovers along side me, cleans up spills with a cloth and frankly is weirdly enthusiastic about checking the floor for dirt and putting said dirt in the bin. Did you know tidying up toys is also the highlight of playtime? These skills have been nurtured through my inability to bend, my flare up of pregnancy related self-pity, with a touch of a genetic predisposition to get shit done. Yesterday at his grandparents I found him out on the lawn sweeping up leaves with a pan and brush…..let’s just say that kept him busy for a while.
  11. Your toddler’s nap time will become your nap time. I fondly recall in pregnancy number one, hitting the couch every time I let out a little yawn. Obviously with a toddler in tow, you dare not turn your back not to mention close an eye in their waking hours. Sneaky nap times in the afternoon will become your much longed for golden hour in the late stages of pregnancy. You will long for these naps and should feel in no way guilty about this. Adult naps are the business.
  12. The intermittent guilt about your terrible eating habits will haunt you. Feeding your toddler obviously becomes the priority which often leads to you forgetting to eat at all or eating absolute rubbish. The weird thing being I love eating, it’s definitely up there with my favourite things to do. But pregnancy makes me behave like a small child left unsupervised in a sweet shop. Regarding skittles as 5 of your 5 a day, drinking milk as an alternative to eating (sure if it works for babies?) and falling asleep before actually making or eating dinner have become shamefully common occurrences. Then hitting the pregnacare and iron tablets hard in the hope that they counteract some of the irresponsible carnage you have inflicted upon your body that day. The worst thing is waking up the next morning and actually believing you will do better.
All in all as I reflect back on this pregnancy I recognise the stark differences between pregnancy number one and pregnancy number two. Has there been a steep learning curve and a harsh collision with reality? Absolutely. That said, I also recognise that good enough really is good enough, and for my own sanity I have happily come to terms with this. At the end of every day I have a little face smiling back at me that reminds me my mediocrity is just fine.

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