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Q&A: I’m pregnant & have a toddler & I’m overwhelmed!


I’m going through your seven day Say Goodbye to Survival Mode Challenge and am really having a hard time implementing some things. I am almost 20 weeks pregnant and have a 2- year-old.

I honestly want to spend each day with some coffee and mindless TV while my boy plays. This pregnancy has worn me out way more than the first. I’m still getting laundry, cooking and cleaning done when I can put on Barney for a bit or when I’m not napping during his nap, but getting up early is so hard. I went to bed last night at 9 and still was solid asleep until 7am.

I have so many books I want to read, hats I want to knit for my friends moving to China, baked goods I want to make for families, biblical studies and better prayer time that needs to happen, etc. How do I implement both grace and discipline in my current situation? -Paige

{Hugs} Paige! You are in a hard season of life… I well remember those days when you’re trying to care for a toddler’s needs and you’re feeling exhausted from your pregnancy, too!

Here’s my encouragement to you:

1. Give Yourself Grace

There will be time for reading and knitting and baking and studying. Now is not that time. Right now, focus on getting as much sleep as you can, loving on your toddler, and taking care of yourself as you nurture a life inside of you.

When you are feeling discouraged that you aren’t getting much done, remind yourself that this is just a season. Before you know it, your children will be more independent and you’ll probably have more energy, too.

2. Don’t Play the Comparison Game

Whatever you do, don’t compare yourself and what you’re able to accomplish to other women. Each of us has our own strengths and weaknesses, our own struggles and difficulties.

It’s easy to feel guilty if we’re not doing as much as someone else. But the thing is: we can always find someone who is doing more than us in every single area. So no matter how much we do, we’ll always come up short when we play the comparison game.

Instead of comparing yourself to others, do the best you can do with the time and energy you have and then give yourself grace for all you aren’t doing.

3. Focus on Your Top 3 Priorities

I encourage you to sit down with your husband and discuss what your top three priorities should be for this season of life. Decide on these together and then write them out and stick them some place where you are reminded of them daily.

When opportunities arise or you have creative ideas, look at that list of three things and decide whether these opportunities/ideas are in line with your life. In most cases, I’m guessing they won’t be. And this will allow you to guiltlessly say “no” or set aside the idea for now. This doesn’t mean that you are failing; it means that you are being very intentional about how you spend your time.

If you find it helpful, you can keep a running list of all the projects and ideas that come to mind that you really want to accomplish — but add to this list and then stash it away for someday. That way, you have a record of the ideas, but you are clearly delineating that they are for someday, not now.

If the list ever starts to bog you down or make you feel guilty, give yourself permission to literally rip it up and throw it out. You might find this simple exercise is incredibly freeing to you!

4. Allow Lots of Breathing Room

I cannot encourage you enough to plan lots of margin and breathing room in your life right now. Write out a loose routine for each day, but be sure to plan at least a few hours of wiggle room in your day. This can be for you to take a nap, lie down and watch a movie with your toddler, to cuddle with your toddler and look at picture books, or to do something restful.

If you’re anything like me, by planning rest and relaxation as part of your routine, not only will it make your days much calmer, but it will also allow you to kick back and just “be” without the guilt that you really should be doing something else. If you’re tired, take that as a queue to rest and relax!

What advice and tips do the rest of you have for Paige? Share in the comments!

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  • Jennifer says:

    This sounds like my life too! I’m 21 weeks pregnant with a one year old. I am going to read this post and comments many times I’m sure.

  • Ellen says:

    I have three kids (6, 4, and 2) and am 30 weeks pregnant with Baby #4. I remember being in Paige’s shoes with earlier pregnancies and feeling very discouraged and defeated. What used to be so frustrating to me about pregnancy though I’ve come to embrace: it is is God’s way of helping us slow down in preparation for the newborn to come. Life with a newborn is all about creating a new norm, and without the forced slowdown of pregnancy, high-achievers like me would probably experience emotional whiplash when the baby comes. Life is all about seasons, and it’s okay to have a season of rest. With that freeing, grace-filled attitude, you’ll be surprised at how much you still manage to accomplish!

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks so much for saying this! It makes so much sense to me! I’m 32 weeks pregnant with my third who is due 6 days before my oldest’s birthday! I’m so exhausted, but I keep thinking if I just keep trying, I’ll somehow get everything done. But, that has yet to happen!

      • Becky says:

        I feel ya! I just had two babies 12 months apart. It was a really tough season for me (the second pregnancy and early infant days after my second was born) and it seemed very very long. And during that time I got absolutely nothing done and it drove me crazy, it felt like my life had been on hold for two years during back-to-back pregnancies, either with an infant or preparing for one. My second is almost 4 months old now and things are getting so much easier. It’s tough but you can do it, and my 1 year old LOVES his sister! It’s adorable.

  • Jo Lynn says:

    I too am in a season like Paige….I’m 21 weeks pregnant (and still having horrible morning sickness..that is starting to let up!…which explains my commenting abscense and return : ) and have my four year old with pretty extreme needs to care for. I can really relate to having so many things I want to do but just cant right now. Having a “Things for another season list” has been incredibly helpful! Also just picking a few things to focus on that I know have the most impact right now has really helped me narrow down my choices of what I take on on this season. In a way its been really good as I’m learning to really slow down and make taking care of myself a priority…and even though I don’t feel the best physically…I feel really content from just letting the pressures I put on myself go. One other thing Ive done that is really helpful is to slow my Internet usage way down…I know a lot of people can use the Internet and not be affected by it but I have to admit I definitely find myself less frazzled when I’m closing myself off from constantly peeking through the windows of others lives. This has really helped me to stop looking to the right and the left and concentrate on making the most of my own life and taken a lot of pressure off of myself. I feel I’m better able to evaluate how I’m spending my time and feel better about it when I cant see what others are doing and I’m my own barometer vs allowing others to be it for me…if that makes sense. I’m really looking forward to the book..I think I’ll find a lot to implement and love how you always remind us all to have grace for our various seasons and challenges!

  • Kristi says:

    Be encouraged that you are accomplishing a lot even if you don’t have the energy to do everything you’d like! Taking care of a two year old is a busy job! And taking care of yourself and the new little one is very important. Try to focus on the things you are doing rather than what is not getting done. I second Crystal’s suggestion to spend time cuddling with and reading to your toddler. It will give you some special time with him before baby arrives.

    • Pearl says:

      You are already accomplishing a lot… you’re growing another life!!! =) Getting that rest is so important. And so is spending time with your toddler. There is a season for everything… enjoy your season of “resting”.

  • Amanda says:

    During each of my pregnancies, I spent a lot of time on the couch taking naps. Some days my naps aligned with my kids’ naps, and sometimes it didn’t so they played and watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while I snoozed. It was really a conscious decision not to be guilty about the amount of down time I needed as a pregnant mom.

    Even now with 4 boys who are 7, 3, 2, and 4 month old, I have to make that same decision not to put guilt on myself every day. Grace upon grace upon grace instead of guilt upon guilt upon guilt. Both are never ending, so I choose grace.

  • Wendi says:

    I found myself pregnant with #4 with a 4, 3, and 1.5 year old at home. We were living in a foreign country as my husband was a doctor in the military. And then, this pregnancy, for some reason, kept me sick the entire forty weeks. I was terribly ill. Couldn’t do ANYTHING and had to care for all my kids. I made it. I have no idea how. But one day at a time, I got it done.

    Also, my advice … if you can financially afford it. Get a little help. A housekeeper even a day a month can help you keep up!

  • Jessica says:

    I can relate. My kids were 5 and 1 1/2 when I unexpectedly got pregnant with my third child. It was a tough pregnancy with many months of morning sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum that required Zofran. I could only eat rice for about 5 months, as anything else made me get sick.

    Look at it this way: you’re working every day, growing a baby. Stick with the basics on doing anything else. Brush your hair and teeth, get dressed, make something to eat, even if it’s a cheese sandwich. Go to your prenatal visits. Enjoy your time with your little boy before he becomes a big brother.

    Now that I have 3 kids, ages 7, 3 1/2, and 1… life is very, very busy. I still am sticking with the basics. My house is not sparkling clean, there are mega blocks all over my floor right now and the bathtub is in need of a good cleaning. But you know what else? We all have our bellies filled every day, wear clean clothes, the bills are paid on time. Good enough. Pick your battles and let the little things go for now.

  • milissa says:

    I want to encourage you to give yourself permission to nap/sleep/rest as much as you can. Sleep is not a luxury…it is something you must do to be at your best. Your body requires sleep! With a toddler and a new baby on the way, you are probably not able to sleep as much as your body needs…so if you can carve out some time and rest/nap…do it. And don’t feel guilty at all. The worst guilt in this world is the “unearned” variety. I’m not sure why our culture thrives on guilt trips, but you’re taking an unnecessary one.

    I agree with much of what everyone has said. Make a list of all the things you want to do/read, etc. When this season of your life slows down, you can read those books.

  • milissa says:

    Oh…one more thing. If you need help, ask for it. Be specific. It’s okay! Nobody is a superhero…everyone needs help from time to time. I’m all too happy to help my friends and loved ones when I can. But I can only do this if I know they need/want help and exactly what they need help with.

  • Jessica H says:

    I am in the same situation. Everyone kept asking me what my New Year’s resolutions were this year, but my reply has been to give myself grace. I know with pregnancy and a new baby later in the year that I will not be able to do as many things as I would enjoy doing. I don’t have the energy to keep up with my normal activities right now , but I just have to remind myself that this season will pass. One thing that I just started doing was increasing my intake of fruits and vegetables. This seems to give me more energy.

  • Carol says:

    We have all been there! I have 4 kids and worked a home day care for many years. 2 of mine are off at college and 2 are in high school. All of sudden I have my own time again! As you start your family journey (which you are doing now) remember it’s not about how many check marks you get on the lists, it’s about the people you help grow, what you teach them by example and how many lives you touch in a positive way. If you are so over stretched physically, emotionally and just plain drained you’ve got nothing for yourself and nothing for anyone else. Sleep while you can, the pile of “to do’s” never goes away, it’s always waiting when you have the energy and time.

  • Sarah says:

    I have felt that way during my second and third pregnancies also. One trick that was helpful is set the timer for 5 minutes and pick a spot or task to do. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish and its a bit of a mood booster. I used to tell myself you can muster up 5 minutes of productivity. Lol! Good luck to you. This season will pass. 🙂

  • Victoria says:

    I am in total agreement with the speak with your husband over your top 3 priorities. I know when I was going through a really rough time emotionally when my kids we little one of the best things I did was follow some advice I found in a bible study that said something similar. One area I was really struggling in was housework so I asked my husband to pick 3 areas he liked most like to see clean when he got home from his 12 hr shifts. To my surprise his choices were really little things. He wanted the couch free of toys so he could relax, the kitchen counter clean in the section where he made his tea, and in the morning he wanted to be able to find a clean scrubs for work in 5 minutes or less. And to my surprise after that he said, I could really care less I just want to see my kids happy because they have spent time with mama. I was able to get much more than that done most days but knowing I really only needed to do that to make one of the most important people in my life happy really took the pressure off.

    • Jennifer says:

      I second asking your husband what he would like done each day. It is probably a lot less than what you expect of yourself! I know my husband actually prefers simple, basic meals and could eat the same things every week. We women seem to think we should be Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray all the time.

    • Kate Craig says:

      great advice!

  • Ashley P says:

    While I don’t know exactly how you feel, I do understand it. I only have one kid. but hubby and I both have full time jobs on opposing shifts. That means while I’m at work, he’s at home with the baby and while he’s at work, I’m at home with the baby and neither of us get much sleep.

    Don’t be ashamed to ask for help! I called my father (who’s retired) and asked if he wouldn’t mind helping out twice a week so my hubby can get a full 8 hours of sleep (I’ve learned to live on less. Hubby…not so much.) Not only was he willing to do it, he was ECSTATIC to do it. Turns out, he was bored sitting around the house all day with nothing to do. Hubby appreciates the break, and Dad appreciates being useful.

    See if you can get parents, friends, neighbors, or fellow church members to help out, even if it’s just so you can take an extra nap and a shower a couple of times a week.

    And I totally agree with Crystal. It’s just a season. You will not be pregnant forever. There will be plenty of time for all those other things later. The whole time I was pregnant, I was working 16 hour days because we were trying to save extra money for a down payment on a house. All the fun things I used to do like needlepoint and baking went completely undone. At first, I was disappointed in myself. But when we had a scare that my unborn son might have kidney issues, I realized that my priority at that time was not baking or sewing or cleaning. It was taking care of myself so I could help my son be as healthy as possible. Fortunately, his kidneys were fine. Now that he’s nearly 6 months old, I’m starting to do a few more of my old things, even if it’s not as much. I bake for an hour on the weekends while daddy watches him, and I do my Bible study on the morning train to work.

    If you’re taking care of yourself and your family, then you’re doing everything you need to, Mommy! Keep up the great work, and cherish these days with your little ones, because they don’t last forever. The house will always need cleaning. Your kids won’t always be kids.

  • Jennifer says:

    As a mother of a 3 year old and a 3 month old, I went through this challenge last year. It DOES get easier. Accept any and all offers of help from friends, family, trusted neighbors. Can someone take your toddler for an hour once in a while so you can get a rest? Can your husband take him out for a half day on the weekend so you can catch up on housework, freezer cooking (for when the new baby comes)? Don’t be afraid to ask for and accept help. We all need it sometimes. And congratulations on your growing family!

  • Jenn says:

    Oh mama! I have spent years in your shoes! Let yourself be free. There is no room for guilt in mommyhood. The things that are most important are the ones that you are already doing – loving your two little ones. If your body is desperate for rest, then rest. This is just a season ~

  • Kellie says:

    Im in the same boat im 27 weeks pregnant with a crazy energizer bunny 3 year old boy…. i cant seem to get it together.. Im always tired, working 40 hours going home cooking, cleaning, trying to find time to relax and read a book is so hard.

  • Sarah says:

    Paige! I am in the same season. I have such an ambitious heart! I want to grow a business, work full-time (until my business takes off), be an incredible mommy to our 1-year old, READ, make delicious meals for my husband, keep a clean and simple (clutter-free) home, and still take time to get prepared for our new baby as I am 30 weeks pregnant! At the end of the day, what I need is SLEEP. I have had to prioritize as Crystal noted in her post. My relationships with the Lord, my husband and my daughter come first. My health and well-being come second. Keeping a clean home and preparing healthy meals for my family comes third. There are things I have to do each day, like go to my full-time job. I am so blessed to have a husband who helps with cleaning and preparing meals. But at the end of the day, I plan an hour or two a day to do what I want to do outside of the above priorities and if I don’t get to that hour or two, then I don’t. At least I know when I lay my head down that I have spent quality time with my husband and daughter, have at minimum prayed, and have done something (even just one thing) to keep my home from looking like a tornado went through. My house is far from being as clean and tidy as I want it to be, but my relationships are taken care of and my family is healthy and during this season, that is enough.

  • a terrible husband... says:

    Love Crystal’s advice. We were in the same position as the reader 3 years ago (we now have a 2.5 yo girl and a 4.5 yo boy).

    What helped us is recognizing that there will always be more you want to do than you can do, so we work hard to not worry about what’s NOT done, list a few things we CAN do and then celebrate for what we do and can do. At the end of the day if we felt frustrated we would say something out loud that we accomplished, even if it was just “rested.”

    Embrace the imperfections of the day. We will never be perfect. And that’s OK. We’re not meant to be. Our imperfections make us who we are – and we are awesome and worthy of love just the way we are.

    It’s a busy time and will get busier.

    Crystal’s advice to give yourself grace is so important, too!

  • Julie says:

    I love Crystal and admire what she does, so this comment is by no means against her or her message. But at this point in life, it is time for you to “Say Hello to Survival Mode”

    I was in your situation a year ago; My son was barely a year old, and I was pregnant with my daughter. There were so many things I wanted to do (catch up from baby one, get ready for baby two, start new projects, etc, etc,). It was both frustrating to not do what I wanted, and exhausting to just think about it.

    Do a little bit, and let the rest go. This is your time to be served rather than to serve. (In the old religious traditions, women were exempt from so many obligations precisely because they needed to focus on their babies). You can make and mail hats to China when you feel up to it. Others can do the baking for a while. Watch PBS with your son, read to him when you feel guilty about too much television. Rest often. Do not feel guilty.

    Survive – Then try the Seven Day Challenge in a year or two!

    • Jo says:

      I LOVE this comment! I think it’s very important that we recognize that there are seasons when we intentionally choose to scale way back and just focus on the basics.

    • Diane says:

      Thank you for this. I’m in survival mode with infant twins and a preschooler. I printed mom daily planners with chore check lists but it’s basically a joke. Every day I nurse babies, change diapers, and do laundry (including cloth diapers). I’m not going to wash the phones, baseboards or fridge this year. I could do that before I had two babies to care for but these babies are much more precious than a clean house. I wish I could sleep more but I’m hoping in a few months that will improve, too. My day is very busy but I have little to show for it, just fed and changed babies pretty much but I am trying to be OK with that.

      • Katie says:

        Diane, I am so proud of you! You sound like superwoman to me! I have just one newborn and she is my only child and many days I don’t get much more done than a load of laundry, possibly some dishes, and many hours of nursing and cuddling baby!

        Crystal, thanks for reminding us mommies to give ourselves grace and remember this is only a season in life.

    • Paige says:

      Thanks for your advice! (from the gal who posted the question!)

      For the record, I have done 3 of the 6 hats and have baked almost daily. I guess I still fit those things in because I love them! My little guy sometimes helps me with the baking (disaster) or watches me knit the hats with curious eyes and asks to wear them.

      Knowing me, it will still probably all get done. But I’m not feeling as guilty about watching Hoarders WHILE knitting! 🙂 And I’m designing a wedding invitation for a friend, but I do it while on the phone with my best friend and while drinking coffee. Small victories!

  • alex says:

    I have a 16 month old and am 16 weeks pregnant. I think for me I’ve learned I just have to prioritize. My husband works full time and is in school so he can’t help as much as I would like. I work part time on night shift. We don’t use daycare so sometimes I come home after working all night (12 hour shift) and have to care for my son until he goes down for his nap at noon. Making dinner is a must. Caring for my son is a must. Otherwise I clean and do laundry as I can. I find if I spend at least an hour in the day of concentrated play time with my son I feel much less guilt about the rest. I try to focus on what’s really going to matter 10 years from now.

  • Tara says:

    Hugs Paige! It gets better…the time will come for all the things you want to study and make and experience. Don’t feel guilty one bit! Crystal’s advice is perfect. Also, we played a lot of doctor when I was pregnant with our second. I could be “sick” while my son checked my temp, and wrapped bandages on my wrist. I even had him get me a cold damp washcloth for my forehead. That always bought me at least 15 minutes to put my feet up. Prayers for peace coming your way.

  • LisaS says:

    I’m 12 years down the road from where you are and wish I had all these wonderful people telling me what you’re being told. Set a few priorities for things that simply must get done, hire a little help if you can, enjoy your child, and REST. Nothing is more important.

  • Lauren says:

    So thankful that God chooses to use women like you and I in our weaknesses and all to accomplish His perfect plans. My husband deployed a week after the birth of our second child. Having a 2 year old and a newborn was an adventure. I learned a lot, grew a lot, was humbled in many ways and at the end of it all survived to tell about it. HA. I love this blog post and agree with so much of it. Remember this is a “season” in your life. It is a beautiful season and I think often in all the craziness we need to just stop and thank God for His patience and grace to get through each moment. A friend of mine once told me this, “sometimes the most spiritual thing a mom can do is take a nap.” 🙂 I would also just encourage you to not be afraid to ask for help at times when you need it. We are meant to live our lives along side others. I know in my own life sometimes it’s hard to ask a friend for help or to watch the kids so I can go grocery shopping or whatever. But take others up on their acts of kindness when they offer. You’re doing a great job! Many blessings to you and your family.

  • Maureen says:

    I agree with all of the other experienced moms on setting simple priorities and not feeling an ounce of guilt. You are growing a new life and have a child to take care of.
    My only other thought would be to ask your ob/gyn to do some blood work and make sure your iron levels are at a healthy level. Iron deficiency anemia can be exhausting. Also make sure you are eating a healthy diet and not going too long between meals. You want to maintain a steady blood sugar level for your good and for the baby.
    God Bless! I am very excited for you!

  • Julie says:

    A common cause of fatigue in pregnancy is iron deficiency. Speak to your doctor to determine if your fatigue could be the result of low iron. If your iron levels are normal, call in reinforcements, lie down for a nap, and rest easy knowing you ARE doing what is best for you and your family.

    • Heather says:

      I was thinking of that also. It’s not uncommon. Some people have to take more than the regular prenatal. Talk to your doctor.

  • Jenny says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I’m 24 weeks pregnant and felt horribly guilty for starting my 18mo in daycare a couple days a week so I could rest. She loves it though, and I start getting caught up on sleep, so I guess it works out alright.

  • Rachel Smith says:

    Oh how I wish this article had existed when I was in this situation!! Just reading it makes me tear up. Giving oneself permission to just “be” is so counterculture–especially as moms. The needless guilt can be overwhelming. Thank you Crystal for showing this mom and all of your readers that there is a better way!

  • Amanda says:

    I have a 7 month old and 2 year old. I remember this feeling so well. Remember time is fleeting with little ones. Enjoy the cuddles and movies now. It will be harder when new baby comes. My baby has been really high needs and I still feel stuck in this cycle. I keep praying and remembering it can’t last forever. (Right?!?!?!?)

  • Susan says:

    I know pregnancy and carng for a toddler can be exhausting, but my first thought after reading this post is for the author to get a medical opinion for her fatigue. If she’s sleeping 10 hours a night and is still feeling exhausted, then there could very well be a medical reason.

    Make it a priority to drink plenty of water, eat a healthy diet with good portions of vegetables, and get regular exercise. Unless you’re in an area where the weather is really horrid, take that toddler, bundle up, and get outside for some fresh air. Pregnant or not, these things do wonders for increasing energy levels. It also wards off depression, which could also be a issue for the author.

    • Paige says:

      Hi! (I’m the author of the post) I DO suffer from depression/anxiety and am medicated for it. I have always suffered from it worse when I get less sleep. Post Pardem Depression for me was awful because of sleep deprivation!

      The problem with getting enough fruits/veggies/etc in this pregnancy is the horrible nausea and fatigue that hit as soon as I saw that I was pregnant! My midwife has not been concerned about my energy levels. Since asking this question (I emailed Crystal a couple of weeks ago) I have been averaging 6 hours because of restless leg syndrome. I’m worse off now than when I posted in the first place! I break down a lot. Poor husband. 🙂

      I recently started adding more iron to my diet just in case that is an issue.

  • Pamela says:

    Tears in my eyes just reading this post and all the encouraging comments. I’m 17 weeks pregnant, with 2 & 4 year old boys. My grandma died last week and my grandpa has been really sick.
    My house is a wreck. A potato exploded in the microwave 2 weeks ago and I finally cleaned it this morning. Thanks for letting me vent.
    Thanks to everyone for reminding us in this situation to slow down and let unimportant things slide. I’m going to play with my boys.

  • Jen says:

    All of these suggestions are great. I am also saying “hello” to survival mode for the next few weeks. I’m pregnant with baby #4. Until I can get through this all day morning sickness and exhaustion, it’s all about survival around here and I’m okay with that. We’re eating simple meals, since pretty much everything makes me gag, and my kids are watching more tv than normal, I’m trying to keep up with dishes and laundry but other cleaning can wait.

    I do plan on reading Crystal’s new book, but with no guilt. I’ll have it for later when I’m ready to get out of survival mode. When you’re pregnant and have other small children sometimes it’s all about just surviving from day to day and that’s totally fine.
    Don’t compare yourself to others! Do what you need to do for your body and your growing little one.

  • MaryEllen says:

    For some people, simplifying means saying no to outside commitments, but for others of us, simplifying means we use paper plates instead of creating dirty dishes. Just do the bare minimum you need to survive, and don’t feel guilty! Enjoy each simple moment, and realize that you ARE accomplishing much even though it might not feel like it. Taking care of yourself and your little ones is the most important job!

  • Marcella says:

    As a mother of 6, I thought this was right on. Especially the reminder that it’s a season. There will be other seasons, God willing. Practice counting the gifts of the current season and one may be surprised at all the amazingness you’ll find! And I like to think of tiny things I can do to feel accomplished during my week. It may not be an amazing care package I send out but at least a card or letter with encouraging words in it. Sometimes a text message to let someone know they are being thought of. It helps me feel like I am getting a little more done than just the dishwashing and laundry! 🙂

  • Mary says:

    Stick to the basics! Laundry, dishes, cleaning, and feeding people! Everything else is a bonus. Oh, I forgot prayer . . . not optional in my world, though I don’t do Bible study or tons of reading . . . just time with God every day. I have 5 kids – 9, 6, 4, 2, and 7 months. We homeschool, so I do have that on top of my basics, but the older kids help me, so it works out. Crystal’s right . . . this is not the season for extras.

    Coffee time matters too – even if that means mindless TV for a short while. You have to recharge.

    As far as giving yourself grace – you are growing a human being. It takes tons of energy! Not only that, you are teaching a person how to be civil, which also takes tons of energy. Those two things really are the most important things for you to do . . . much more important than laundry!

    Discipline is hard during this season, but I try to remember that those necessary tasks don’t take much time . . . dishes take 5-10 minutes after every meal. Meal prep can be short too – 5 min for breakfast and lunch and 30 min for dinner. When your husband can take your son for a while (weekends?) use a bit of time to prep things for dinner — cooked ground beef turns into spaghetti or tacos in 15 minutes. The crockpot can be set in the morning (I always have a bit more energy then). Laundry is done in short bursts (except folding . . . I let my hubby do that when I’m pregnant!). Cleaning can be done in bursts too. Wipe counters after dinner. Sweep after breakfast. Remembering it’s a short task motivates me to just do it instead of complaining (to myself ususally).

    Congratulations on the new addition!

  • Melinda says:

    I am 19 years away from this season, but I do have grandchildren. Prayer, simplify and ask for help!! Be it grandma, neighbor, old ladies at church would love to be asked to help. I know I would love to be asked!! Wish I was close by. I remember how hard it was. Congratulations!!

  • Katie L says:

    Setting a timer is the best way for me to use limited time well. I get lost in what I’m doing, whether it’s laundry or mindless internet-ing. Once I have a few priorities for the day in mind, it helps me to set a defined amount of time (usually 15 minutes per task) to do things. Including a time to put my feet up or craft.

    Some TV time is not going to ruin your children. We’re coming down from a cross-country move when our baby was 6 weeks old. Between the exhaustion of having a newborn, moving, finding a new place, and unpacking, we are JUST NOW getting back to a good routine. My baby is seven months old. That’s how long it’s taken me to be able to wake up to an alarm clock again, and keep everyone fed and give my children attention and keep the house picked up (NOT sparkly clean) and do any one other thing. This isn’t to discourage you, but to encourage you. You are in a special, special time right now, and it seems long, but it isn’t really very long at all. Hang in there!

  • Carrie says:

    I have no advice to add but just wanted to say THANK YOU to Crystal and all you other ladies who chimed in with such grace-filled, practical advice. I’m 27 weeks pregnant with a 21 month old, and am exhausted and overwhelmed and so guilt-laden for being stuck in this cycle of not keeping up with anything, too-much-tv-watching, and constant crankiness with my husband because I am so tired and discouraged. I also find myself panicking because I imagine myself trying to care for two little ones while feeling exactly as I do now … I feel like I’m doomed to fail! I need to remember that things will get better but for now it’s ok to rest, let some things go, and focus on enjoying my crazy, active, loving toddler and anticipating meeting my second son in a few months. 🙂

  • Jennifer says:

    I LOVE your advice here! It’s so crucial for women to hear this message. We can’t hear it enough! I wrote a blog series on the same subject of comparing ourselves to others. I humbly invite you to join me:

  • Karen says:

    Having a toddler and being pregnant is HUGE! You all give yourselves some grace. Your body is doing an incredible job creating another being, even when you are resting. Your toddler is energetic and busy. If you are tired, then rest. IF you are hungry feed yourself. If the toddler isn’t tired put him/her in a safe room to play, go in the room close the door and sleep right up against it so they can’t get out, or at least lie down right up against the door.

    No comparisons with anyone else are allowed. You are you and that is different from being so and so on or your best friend.

  • Kate Craig says:

    Man I would have loved to read this 9 months ago! The comments are great. My encouragement is that I’m on the other side! I have a 2 year old and a 5 week old. And I’m actually getting around to those projects that sat around while I was pregnant, because now I have the energy to do them! There are still times I feel overwhelmed by doing the newborn thing, but it’s so so so much better than pregnancy sickness and exhaustion.

  • Sharla @ Slacker Saver says:

    Ah, this sounds like me just a couple months ago! Several weeks ago I finally got back to just needing a normal amount of sleep, which I’m loving…for the next month or two before I start NOT sleeping anymore.

    One thing that has really helped me lately is setting (realistic!) weekly and daily goals, which takes about five minutes each morning. There are a number of things that are on my to-do list that, when I look at my day, just get taken off without anything being done. Once I have a manageable list, written down AND in my head, it’s much easier to use time well. Also, when I have a plan for when I’ll do things, I’m able to stop and play with my 2-year-old without rushing to the next task.

  • Sharla @ Slacker Saver says:

    One more thing: at Christmas, my sister and I asked some cousins with children in high school what they wish they had done differently when their kids were younger. A pretty universal answer was, “my house didn’t need to be that clean.” Not to undervalue a clean house, but babies grow up!

  • Sarah says:

    I can relate to this article. I had a two year old and a newborn when I was diagnosed with Cohn’s disease ( inflammatory bowel disease). I was in excruciating pain and ended up in the hospital, where I was diagnosed. When I came home I was left to care for my kids all day with joint pain, inability to eat hardly anything and I was in the bathroom a lot. The doctors put me on medication ( didn’t work) and told me I had an incurable disease. So I also became depressed. It took me one and half years to get into remission. Reading money saving mom has helped me figure out a routine and my household runs a lot smoother now. I still can’t do it all and im tired by the afternoon but I’ve learned to have grace and count my blessings.

  • Anitra says:

    I am 17 weeks pregnant and there right now! I made a conscious decision NOT to read the “Goodbye to Survival Mode” book or posts right now – I am pregnant, I have a toddler and a kindergartener. From experience, I know that I am not going to “catch up” to regular life again until we get into a rhythm with the new baby – which is probably 9 months to a year away!

    So, there’s a lot of saying no, and a lot of putting aside things I’d like to do until later. Right now, I’m just grateful to be getting over “morning” sickness and able to cook some meals from scratch again. My husband reminds me that a few months of too much TV and fast food won’t kill my children, as long as it doesn’t become a long-term habit.

  • Jill says:

    Oh goodness, this is so familiar! I have 4 yr old twins, a 2 1/2 yr old and a 7 mth old (all boys and all full of energy!) Other than my normal household chores, church, twins in preschool 2 half days per week, and I work from home 8 hrs a week, I dont make any additional regular commitments outside my home. Time gets filled quickly enough with an occasional play date, my husband taking the day off last minute and us packing up to go to the zoo or something, a random event at church, or making a meal for a family in need. Preg wipes me out too, so I really pare it down when preg! I have found it helpful to listen to Christian radio as I go abt my day (ESP in the morning when I’m up before the family) starting off with John MacArthur or another good preacher is a great way to get your day off on the right foot. I’m a huge reader and have just been able to start reading a bit more now that baby is sleeping better and I can stay up a little later at night since overnight feeds have mostly stopped. Most important-don’t worry abt what anyone else is doing, and as crystal said ” this is a season”!

  • Clare C. says:

    This topic brought back so many memories… I remember the days when my oldest child was 2 and I was pregnant with twins. The last month of my pregnancy, my hubby, 2 year old and I moved in with my parents in order to be closer to the hospital. I was so exhausted that I could only manage to plan something every other day. I would run an errand one day and then couldn’t do anything the next day because I was so tired from that one errand. So, I was setting goals to accomplish, they were just very teeny, tiny goals. Give yourself freedom to scale way back.
    Also, something that kept me going during all of my pregnancies (something I heard/read somewhere) was that the very act of being pregnant is physically akin to mountain climbing. So, whenever my husband would ask me what had gone on during my day, I would just remind him that I had been mountain climbing. 🙂

  • Michelle says:

    I totally understand how this all goes. I have 5 children, ages 7,5,3,2, and 6 weeks. Don’t get down on yourself. There is only one time in your life when your kids are little and need you. Who cares about all the other stuff, when they grow up they are not going to say, WOW! My mom was really good at cleaning the fridge or she read a lot of books. They are going to remember the time that you spent with them. Even if it is laying on the couch watching TV together or reading book together. You can lay on the floor playing cars together. My kids do not care if I am even playing with them they just love it when I sit on the floor and watch them play.
    Dont’ wish this all away because you feel guilty about not getting things done, take this as a lesson that God is teaching us to be dependant on him to get us through each day. His mercies are renewed each morning! If we could do it all then we would have no need for him and need to be reminded to depend on Him for strength for everyday.

  • Sarah [email protected] Teacher's Wife says:

    I think Crystal’s advice is spot on. When I was in your shoes {my daughter is now 3 and my son is 1}, I literally had no energy until my second trimester. I couldn’t have completed anything on a to-do list it even if I had made one. I think this is certainly the season of your life to seek outside help if at all possible. See if friends can help watch your toddler for you and perhaps you can do a little freezer cooking to help you use for meals later. Or maybe you could hire someone to help you with cleaning every couple of weeks? This is certainly the time to listen to your body and no overdo it and to not be superwoman. And don’t feel guilty if your parenting style has to change a bit in order for you to make it through this challenging season! Your little boy will be just fine, even if it means he watches more Barney than you’d ideally like! Good luck and know it will all be worth it!

  • ancientmother says:

    Offering you heartfelt prayers you will have peace in your heart during this difficult season. I have experienced similar weaknesses, only to find out I was very anemic! After that diagnosis, I started taking a liquid iron supplement. The world was a better place only about a month later. Blessings to you!

  • Sophia R says:

    Oh, my word. I’m there also!! 18 month old, and just a hair over 20 weeks along. This pregnancy has been so much more exhausting than the last one. And we are moving in 6 weeks.

    But on the other hand, I have been feeling SO CREATIVE. I want to create, and plan and do. Some days I have enough energy for it, some days I don’t. But that combined with packing, buying a house, being pregnant, and keeping up with a toddler can lead to frustration.

    I haven’t read the comments yet, but I am looking forward to reading each one. And to all the other young mamas—(((hugs))) We’re going to make it. One day at a time.

  • Diana says:

    I’m right there too–2 year old and 20 weeks preggo! And if I’m lucky enough to have slept all night (which unfortunately doesn’t happen this time around…), when I do wake up it takes me a good 30-45 minutes to feel awake. At least my little guy sleeps in decently most of the time 🙂

    Anyway, I’ll tell you I just haven’t done a ton of the things I want to do–making food and meals for friends, having lots of company, crafting, blog writing, or organizing. I keep telling myself how much better I felt after my son was born–this feeling of dragging through every day is here for a reason (I’m growing a human!) and it’s not my “new normal” that I have to learn to overcome. Knowing that my reason for slowing down is genuinely physical and not just laziness or lack of discipline helps me a lot.

    Anyway, hang in there! We’re halfway done with this exciting 9 months! (And I didn’t read the other comments, so if I said exactly what everyone else said, sorry!)

  • laurie says:

    A note from the other end…
    I’m a 53 yr old mother of 4. my baby just turned 21. you will make it! evaluate your priorities with a Godly heart, and you’ll be amazed at how everything falls into place! God doesn’t care if our houses are worthy of Better Homes & Gardens. we have the prrivilege of nurturing His creations into maturity. celebrate the joy in each day! allow yourself rest – consider where your family will be if you wind up sick. taking care of yourself is a very important part of your job! teaching your children how to love is … I’m lost for the words. rewarding. circular. paramount. commanded. and more. make a list each day of bare essentials that must be done, including rest, one item. if you accomplish it, celebrate! if not, just move it to tomorrow’s list. love those babies and your spouse and yourself. noone has the right to expect more than that!

  • Kelly says:

    You can get Joyce Meyer’s devotionals which are very easy to read because they are short. They have a small bible portion already in them so you don’t have to look up the scripture. Joyce even talks about when she was in your situation and she discovered the best thing she could do was to be and enjoy the person God made HER to be. Women have been cruelly conditioned to compare themselves. It is all based on a system of lies. See if your church has a teen girl who would like some extra spending money to help you. It will give her experience in homemaking and being a mom.

  • Laurie M says:

    Your advice about writing down your top 3 priorities is great! I am implementing this right away. I get side tracked with projects and events that don’t line up with my current season of life all. the. time. I’ll be sharing this post. Lots of wisdom here 🙂

  • Linda says:

    I am 51 and a mother to 4 who are now ages 22-28. I remember feeling like you have mentioned. I believe the 2 greatest jobs in the world are being a godly wife to your husband and raising your children to know the Lord. Be kind to yourself; do not compare yourself to others, and keep your eyes on the Lord.

  • Brittany says:

    LOVE LOVE this post and the precious community of woman who have taken the time to encourage one another. What a treasure to tread! I have a 1 year old and a 2 year old and I’m 36 weeks pregnant with our third little treasure. Been a sick pregnancy with lots of complications which have required me to rest. The Lord has taught me so much from it and I’m thankful buts it’s been very hard. Been blogging a little about it and it’s been a great blessing to get feedback from people who have felt the same way & also from godly ladies that have made it through these tough seasons and are on the other end of it now. I’m so grateful that the Lord cares more about my HEART during this season then how perfect my HOME is 🙂 be encouraged your not alone.

  • Katie says:

    It gets easier, and sooner than you think! I have just begun to crawl out of the exhaustion, and I can see the light! I have a newly 4 year old, a 2 year old, and my baby turned 1 a couple of weeks ago! So, yes…my life is still very busy and exhausting, but I find that I can get up early, have time for bible study, make dinner, exercise and work in my garden…all things that seemed like pipe dreams even just a few months ago! So, it definitely gets better, and sooner than you think! Being pregnant and having toddlers is the most exhausting!!! Grace, grace and more grace in this time, Friends!

  • JC says:

    You brought back so many memories… my kids are now 9 and 11, yet I felt your every word as if it was only yesterday. I can say this, it gets easier and your priorities will shift through the seasons. Treasure these childhood moments because it will be over before you realize. Hang on to every smile, bed time stories, giggles… All the little things that used to take my time away from the many other things I wish I could be doing, is clearly what I miss the most. I have more time now to do some of the things I want to do, but don’t get me wrong, the work of a mother is never done.

  • Teresa Albrecht says:

    Gosh – moms who have toddlers and are pregnant. Please make your first priority your own health. You are growing a new life! If you can sleep, sleep. Do not be concerned about the never-ending to-do list. You are already doing THE most important thing a mom could possibly ever do, guarding and safe-keeping that little one inside, and nurturing the ones who are already here. Nothing else compares in importance. That is the most Godly work. .

  • Olof says:

    As a mom of 3 very active boys ages 7, 5 and 3 with the 4th boy due Dec. 9th I have given up. I do what I can when I can but my house is a mess and my to do list is forever long. I have had to give it all over and trust that all this is meant to be. This fourth baby was not planned by my husband and I by a long shot. We thought our family complete. Being home for 5 more years was not the dream I had for myself. But what is is and I just have to trust that this child was supposed to happen to push me and my family in a certain direction. But I am tired and I can’t keep up so I do the best I can with pelvic pain and contractions.

  • Amy says:

    I’m a mother of 6 (10 and under) Mine are all about 2 years apart so I went through this exhaustion stage many times.

    I would encourage you to rely on God’s strength and not your own. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 focus on His word and priorities and life will not feel so exhausting. I would encourage you to download a free bible app that has devos. They can be sent to your phone and you can choose a theme right for you.

    My next encouragement is to get lots of sleep. I was never a napper but learned to nap and what a difference it made in my attitude and energy levels. I was able to be more productive and more patient with my kids.

    Exercise daily. You can take a walk around the neighborhood with your child or I liked to get videos or exercise on our elliptical and treadmill. Exercising actually gave me an energy boost. And yes, if my napper and I woke up at the same time, I would put on an educational video for them while I was on the exercise equipment. I tried to choose something that would either nourish their mind or soul.

    Eating right will also make a difference in you attitude and energy levels. If you find yourself struggling in this area, take an hour and prepare some healthy snacks on grab and go bags. Make some healthy energy bars. Be sure you’re eating enough protein for you and your baby.

    My last piece of advice is to make lists. I make a new one each night before bed and try to put the most important thing at the top. I knew I wouldn’t probably finish it all, but at least I wouldn’t forget something I wanted to accomplish. I often will send myself emails of things to add to my list at night or throughout the day if I am not home near my list. In addition, I use the Notes app on my phone. When I was pregnant, I would keep a list titled “things to do before baby arrives” and just keep adding to it. These things might include things for myself and my husband as well. Memory is definitely lacking during pregnancy, so I used whatever method I could to remember things.

    I hope this helps!

  • Cindylou says:

    Oh thank you so much for this article, I have a 2.5 month old (1 month adjusted) and a 4 yr old and I’m barely trying to get into a routine

  • Wendy Briscoe says:

    Great article!!!!! I enjoyed reading the comments too! Thank you all for your input. I am a mother to a 7 year old son, and am NOT expecting, but I think the tips, and pointers here could help anyone during a stressful season in life.

    Also, have a menu plan made out. That way dinner is figured out a week or even a day ahead. Is there something you need to thaw out for dinner for tomorrow night. Get it ready today. Do one or two laundry loads a day so you don’t feel overwhelmed with “so much to do-itis.”

    If you have older children ages 5 and older have them help with chores. Everything doesn’t have to fall on Mom’s shoulders. The little ones love helping Momma, so let them help!

    Congratulations on your new baby. Enjoy this season of life. I miss having a newborn in the house.

  • Ashley says:

    A little late jumping into comment on this but YES! I am in a weird cross season as my older 2 kids are almost 7 and 5.5 (so I’m seeing just how fast it goes and how independent they become quickly), but I also have a 21 month old and a baby due in 2 weeks.
    I can say from experience that my biggest regrets with my older 2 were allowing myself to stay in “survival mode” and not really appreciate the moments as they come. Most of the people I felt I needed a perfect house and fancy meals for when my first babies were little aren’t even in my life anymore.
    Lastly, if you can see you are overwhelmed take LOTS of pictures and especially videos. My older kids were 18 months apart and I literally can’t remember so much of my second child’s early life. Anything that sparks those memories is INVALUABLE to me now ❤️️

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