I am sitting further and further away from my desk these days. My growing belly just won’t let me scoot the chair any closer. I’m nine months pregnant now, with my due date a short two weeks away, or so my doctor tells me. At this point, I’m pretty convinced that I’ll be pregnant for eternity… at least that’s what it feels like to me right now.
Being pregnant is hard work. Many women really enjoy the process, many women don’t, but regardless of where you sit on the Enjoyment Continuum, you could agree that growing a human is not for the faint of heart.
The swelling, stretch marks, sleepless nights, back pain, exhaustion, sickness and everything in between… it can all be so difficult to manage on a good day, let alone during a busy season like the holidays. Family, shopping, parties, decorating and travel can all add an enormous amount of stress on your already stressed-out body. What’s a woman to do?
Since I’m in the thick of it, I thought I would offer some tips and tricks to surviving pregnancy when life gets busy. Truth be told, I need to be taking my own advice – I tend to take on far too much when I should be resting and taking care of myself. I also enlisted the help of some battle-tested moms, and they offer their advice here, too.
This is so important. Joy from Joy in this Journey shares, “Take a really hard look at what you need to do, versus what you think you should do. The two are not the same, even though we often get them confused.”
It’s so easy to think we need to take on everything at once, and that everything just HAS to be done right this second. Make a to-do list like you normally would, but pare it down a little. What can wait? What is urgent? Where can you ask for help?
Kelly at Love Well says this:
“Think of it like an equation: the further along you are, the more you need to prioritize so you don’t waste your energy. This is life at its bare bones best: you have to decide what’s most important and then let the rest go.
That might mean your older children don’t get to participate in as many activities that season. It might mean you scale back at church. It might mean you hire a babysitter to come a few times a week so you can rest. Or, as was my case with my fourth baby, it might mean you hire house cleaners for the final trimester because you just can’t keep up.”
When you’re not tackling some of that pared-down to-do list, it’s time to sit, mama. Pour yourself a tall glass of water (when we’re busy, we always forget to stay hydrated), sit on the couch and put your feet up.
Even if it’s only for five-minute increments throughout the day, allowing yourself frequent breaks to rest will help you preserve energy, keep swelling down, and just generally keep you sane.
If you’re able, try to schedule in a good amount of rest 3-5 times a week. Not just quick minute breaks, but maybe an hour or so of uninterrupted rest. This is hard for me, being the mom of a high-needs little boy.
It’s also hard to do when you have multiple kids already, or you work full-time during the day. But, when I make the effort (which, just being real, sometimes involves plopping my kid in front of a Pixar movie), I feel so much better and my stress level decreases significantly.
3. Get outside.
One of the best and fastest ways to boost your energy level (and get some easy Vitamin D) is to spend sometime outside every day. Out of all the things that help me feel energized and focused, this is the best!
It doesn’t need to be long, but just a short walk around the block helps clear my mind, get blood flowing and refreshes my spirit. It’s also a great way to get your kids outside once a day! Bring them along your leisurely stroll – let them ride their bike, look for bugs, collect leaves, stomp in the snow – not only does spending time outside help your energy level, it’s a quick way for them to burn their built-up energy, too.
4. Just say no.
One of my favorite sayings on motherhood is, “You’re a mother, not a martyr.” My friend Megan from Fried Okra agrees. She says, “Say ‘maybe’ or ‘I’d be happy to, if I’m feeling up to it,’ to invitations and requests for your time or service in late pregnancy. Don’t be a martyr, and don’t be afraid to play the ‘I’m sorry, I’m just very pregnant’ card when you need to.”
The holidays come with a lot of invitations – parties for adults, kids’ parties, opportunities to volunteer in the classroom or around town – but getting an invitation that fits on the calendar doesn’t mean you need to accept it! Saying “no, thanks” to things is okay, whether you’re pregnant or not. Protect your time (especially those times of rest) and know your limitations.
Obviously, every pregnancy is different and every woman handles it differently. But, hopefully these quick tips will help you slow down and enjoy the busy seasons in your life as you await the arrival of your new little one.
What about you? Have you been pregnant through the holidays, or any other busy season? What would you recommend to expectant moms?