Well friends, this is it – I’m officially 8 months pregnant. The cute baby bump is long gone and has been replaced with a massive, watermelon-sized baby lump. Strangers start to ask “when are you due?” and seem maybe slightly surprised to find I still have almost two months to keep cooking. The waddle is in full swing. Maternity clothes that were once actually really cute and fit well are suddenly completely unable to cover everything – my undershirt or massive elastic waistband are constantly on display – and things are just no long comfortable. You know…except for sweats and baggy t-shirts. Forget tying shoes – now I’m at the “slip ons only” phase. I just want to nest, all day, every day…so long as “nesting” means literally building a cozy nest and sleeping in it.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love being pregnant; the third trimester is just a tricky one. But the good news is, we’re almost done! The bad news is, we do still have about 6 weeks to go in this less-than-ideal physical shape, and I have three other kids at home with me all day (5, 3, and 19 months). The biggest question remains: how does one survive being THIS pregnant, with the added bonus of having other kids at home to take care of? 

c7c1668517245ab42ed5d615319f6055First: Let Things Go. 

This one has always been a tough one for me, as I have a constant, nagging guilt that I’m not doing enough for my kids on a daily basis. Keeping up with them in public is incredibly physically draining – and I’m always hot, my back hurts by lunch time, and I’m usually ready to curl up for a nap shortly after noon – so trips to playgrounds, farms, and museums have dwindled considerably. Don’t even get me started on the cleanliness level of my house.

The point is, it’s easy at this point to fall into feeling guilty for not doing enough. It’s natural. But it really is so much less stressful if you just accept defeat and move on. Soon enough you’ll be back to your old self, able to keep up with the kids and more than happy to go on fun adventures. For now, just take these days as a sign from Mother Nature that you need to slow down and relax. When the new baby arrives, chaos will reign for a while – enjoy the quiet, lazy days while you can!

Second: What to Do?

Now that you’ve accepted your supermom cape needs to be hung up for just a bit longer, what do you do with your kids to keep them occupied? Some of my favorite third-trimester-survival activities include:

  • Play Dates. Play dates are a great way for your kids to burn off energy and socialize, while giving you a break from being their sole entertainer (and hey, it gives YOU a chance to socialize too!) If the idea of keeping up with kids on a playground at this point makes your blood run cold (hey, I’m with you), host a playdate in your own backyard, or take a trip to a nice, air conditioned, indoor place where your kids can’t get too far away, like a local bounce house.
  • Backyard Fun. You don’t have to schlep to a park or playground to enjoy these beautiful days – invest in making your backyard an awesome place to hang out. It comes in handy during these last super pregnant weeks! You don’t need a super fancy swing set or anything, but outdoor toys like sports equipment, sand and water tables, bubble machines, an inflatable pool – all make for hours of fun for kids. Have picnics outside regularly. Go for short walks around the neighborhood. Get some books about birds, bugs, or gardening, and encourage their interests (and further their education), by adding a bird feeder or bird bath to your yard so you can watch and learn about birds together. Get a butterfly kit and watch caterpillars transform. Garden together! There are plenty of things you can do to entertain your kids without having to exert tons of energy.
  • Indoor Activities. Never underestimate the power of crayons, markers, and some blank sheets of paper. Read. Play games; Candy Land and Uno are huge in our house now with our 3 and 5 year olds. Read some more. Work on puzzles. Build forts. Get some LEGOs and build. Crank music and have dance parties.
  • Get Ready for Baby. Get the kids involved and excited about their new sibling! Make onesies. Paint artwork for the nursery. Let them help you go through the teeny tiny baby clothes, use their assistance in picking out a baby blanket or stuffed animal for their new brother or sister. Two tips: Break out the swing/pack and play/baby gear early so they can have a chance to thoroughly play with it before the baby arrives. Otherwise, you WILL have to gently (and sometimes, not so gently) ask them to leave the swing so you can put the newborn down for a few freaking minutes. Second, don’t expect a ton of interest in the new baby unless your kids are 3 or older. Even at 3, it’s a bit of stretch for them to understand what’s going on – if they’re not super interested in doing anything to prepare, don’t worry and don’t push it. It’s totally normal!
  • TV. Yep, I said it. Sometimes you just need to put something on so you can sit down and relax too. It’s all about survival these days!

Third: Ask for and Accept Help

Asking for and accepting help is one of the hardest things for me to do. I don’t know why (maybe it’s a pride thing), but whenever someone asks if there’s something they can do for me, my knee-jerk reaction is always “No, thanks! I’ve got it!” Anyone else? But the reality is, at this point in your pregnancy, if someone asks you if you need help – TAKE IT. Let someone help with the kids. Let someone else clean the house if it’s really bothering you. Utilize Harris Teeter’s Express Lane and order your groceries online, and pick them up without ever having to walk through the store. Shop online. Use meal planning services if making dinner is becoming too much of a strain. Ask sales associates to walk purchases out to your car and load them so you don’t have to do heavy lifting. Let a stranger hold the door open for you. You’ll feel better in the end!

Fourth: Take Care of Yourself

Having kids is an all-consuming job, and it’s very easy to lose your own needs in the day-to-day craze of taking care of everyone. Be extra vigilant now to make taking care of yourself a priority. Don’t skip meals. Drink lots of fluids. If your body is telling you enough, listen to it! Make a point to still do things to feel like a human – take a shower or bath, put on makeup, throw normal clothes on from time to time. Take naps. Put your feet up. If there’s anything I’ve learned after being pregnant again (and again…and again), it’s that when the baby comes, things will be crazy. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first or your fifth; adjusting to a new little person in your life takes time. Your routine will be off kilter for a while. You’ll be sore, tired, and emotional. You won’t sleep well for a while. Enjoy and embrace the routine you have with your current kids, and carve out time to just RELAX. You won’t get the chance to again for a while!