If this is baby number one, then put your feet up mama, grab a cuppa and your favourite book/flick on Netflix. But if this isn’t your first ride on the pregnancy train, then you might want to keep reading.
Pregnancy is hard, we all know this. Pregnancy while parenting is harder – and pregnancy with a demanding toddler might just be the hardest. You’re sick, you’re tired, you’re sore and you’re emotional – and you have a toddler clawing at you to pick them up/feed them/entertain them/chase after them – and while they may seem cute one minute, it could all turn into full-on tantrum at any moment.
During your second (or subsequent) pregnancy you no longer have time for all the R&R you had last time, no longer have time for eating right (but rather survive on toddler scraps) and napping is a thing of the past. So here are 20 activities you can do with/set up for your toddler that let you get a little bit of downtime, even if just a few precious moments of peace.
1. Find a fully-fenced playground where you’re toddler can’t make a run for it.
2. Take a bus/train/ferry ride – you’d be surprised how mesmerising it is for them to sit and look out the window.
3. Indoor play centres – also good because your toddler can’t make a break for it.
4. Head to your local library – there’s usually loads to keep them occupied (and comfy cushions for you to lie on) and a few new books to add to your nighttime reading won’t hurt either!
5. Cooking – choose simple recipes (the fewer ingredients and steps the better) that they can help make and then eat.
6. Bubbles – always handy to have on hand for distractions and bringing a toddler back form the brink of tantrum.
7. Playdough – another handy activity to have on hand. Or better yet – cloud dough: mix oil and flour and ta-da you have cloud dough.
8. Sandpit – whether you get one for the house (although think of the extra sand that will bring in the house) or find a park with one and take your toys there. There’s something about toddlers and sand.
9. Painting/drawing – not all toddlers will be into this for more than a few minutes, so stick with painting with water which is way less mess or good old fashioned crayons and paper to save yourself the clean up.
10. Or get some thick chalk and let them go crazy on the pavement outside and then just hose it off when you’re done (or better yet let mother nature clean up for you next time it rains).
11. Reading books – if you struggle to get your little one to sit and read, try making a fort out of pillows or put a sheet over the dining table and pillows underneath, something to entice them to join you. Also a good tip: it’s a good time to start thinking about reading books about babies to get them excited about their new sibling.
12. A train set or racetrack that you can set up in your living room so they can play while you lay on the couch with a cuppa.
13. If you have a backyard then the opportunities are endless, get them to help water the garden, get a little splash pool for them to play in, hide their toys amongst the grass/plants and get them to do a scavenger hunt (you can also do this one indoors too), digging in the dirt, kicking a ball – even playing fetch so you don’t have to stand up.
14. You’ll be amazed at how a toddler can entertain themselves with a bucket filled with water and some cups. Better yet, add some detergent (bubbles yay) and get all their cars (or trains or whatever they love) and set up a car wash where they can wash them and a towel to dry them.
15. Magnets on the fridge to entertain them while you cook dinner (or rather lie on the floor waiting for the delivery guy).
16. Dress ups – even if you don’t have a dedicated dress up box they’ll love trying your clothes on.
17. Toddlers love feeling helpful and independent so get them to help with chores, cleaning with baby wipes, helping sort washing and putting it in everyone’s rooms, sweeping or vacuuming (you can even buy kids vacuums that actually work – genius!).
18. Been doing any online shopping? Make sure you keep the boxes – they can be perfect for making forts, for colouring in and decorating and generally just entertaining your toddler for hours.
19. Don’t underestimate the power of the kitchen cupboards especially the tupperwear drawer and saucepans – get your toddler to match the container with the lid or fit them inside of each other or simply let them bang a wooden spoon on a saucepan and watch their face light up.
20. And finally, some days you just need a little help from good old technology. So don’t feel bad if you’re toddler is getting a little extra screen time than usual, as long as they are getting plenty of other stimulation and play time a little extra Peppa Pig won’t hurt them and will save your sanity.