1 Take a hot shower every morning.
This will sound ridiculous to the childless and probably to the mums too, for different reasons. You will likely have to do it with the door open, possibly dodge missiles and awkward questions and potentially have to catch flying electrical goods before they zap you, but it sets you up for a good day. Even if your hair has to air dry /ends up only half-straightened/is scraped off your face into a bun, at least you and it are clean and refreshed.
2 Reinstate old tools
He may have been walking for more of his life than not, but if he’s suddenly he’s clicked that you can no longer catch him and runs off at every opportunity, I see no problem with hauling out the reins. The wee man has a little rucksack with a long strap – I’ve clicked it on to a strap from another similar bag and now I have, effectively, a dog leash for my child. In my defence, I’m having major pelvic issues with this pregnancy and can barely walk let alone sprint after him, and he’s developed a bad habit of running into the sea fully-clothed. This way I can venture out in public without suffering a heart attack/getting soaked to the thighs.
3 Don’t be afraid of the same-old
We used to have a new adventure every day. My mum used to warn me not to do too much, but I enjoyed these voyages of discovery in our new city as much as the wee man. Now though, I accept that I’ll probably have to pee a lot and must never be too far from the loo. I can never venture so far from the car that I’m stuck with a mid-tantrum child who doesn’t want to leave and who I can’t lift and carry back. I can’t cope with him AND the enormous bag with clothing for every surface and weather condition. So we go to the same places that I know he enjoys and whose facilities I can rely on – just for now.
4 Adopt a zero-tolerance policy to bad behaviour
He’s probably figured out that something really big is about to happen and mummy is not herself, so is pushing even harder at the boundaries. If he’s difficult now, how the hell will I cope with two? By making it crystal clear what is not acceptable. That means nipping everything in the bud, making him sit the full three minutes on the naughty step, taking the time to make him follow instructions and finding new ways to make my point. I’ve discovered that simply disengaging, ignoring him completely and putting him in his room with the stair-gate across while I clean up the mess from the kitchen bin he just “accidentally” dragged through and tipped onto the living room carpet, is very effective. A lot of his bad behaviour is simply for attention – if I withdraw that and only reinstate it when he’s apologised and is behaving well, it sends a clear message.
5 Find new fun, sitting-down games
My child has more energy than Ussain Bolt on Red Bull, so most of our activities involve wide open spaces and a ball. This weekend, though, I braved baking – and it was a huge success. I was really pleasantly surprised how well he listened and concentrated and managed. I just bought a cake mix from M&S, put all the extra ingredients in coloured bowls and supervised while he did most of it. He loved the independence and the space to just get on with it, he loved using the electric whisk and he seemed to take real pride in spooning the mixture evenly into the cases. There was some mess, of course, but nothing like what I expected. He even enjoyed the washing up. I gave him lots of praise and he lapped it up – all while I sat on my (expanding) ass. Guess what we’ll be doing every week now?
6 Don’t feel guilty for taking time off
It is a physical impossibility to live your life at the same pace when you’re so pregnant, so just embrace it. (or so I keep telling myself). If there’s a creche at your gym, don’t think twice about booking him in then buggering off to the coffee shop. Accept every offer of help, no matter how much you may suspect they’re just being nice and don’t really mean it. I am definitely a much better mum when I’ve had a break, even a wee short one, and especially an indulgent one where I’ve done nothing but read a few chapters of my book.
7 Be realistic about work
Hahaha. I’m still working on this one. A friend advised me, a few months ago when I was telling him about this amazing new project I’d been invited to get involved in, “remember you’re going to be, like, ill for six months”. I spluttered into my decaf latte and told him to stop being so sexist. But the b*stard had a point. I’ve got eight weeks to go and I already feel disabled – tired, emotional, yes ill a lot of the time. As the realisation has dawned on me that I am not, in fact, superwoman, I have turned down two new clients and brought forward my end date. I’m now super-excited about the fact I will have the whole of September to get my shit together for the baby coming, nest, relax, and sleep!
8 Eat and drink well
Aware that my running days were over pretty much in the first trimester, I had been trying to cut down on treats. The whole ‘eating for two’ thing is a myth, right? I comforted myself that the morning sickness was an insurance policy against too much weight gain. Ha. When you haven’t slept properly for weeks, your three year old is pushing every button and you aren’t even allowed a calming glass of wine, cake is the only answer. No, actually giant cookies work too. And slabs of chocolate. As for trying not to drink too much to cut down on the endless trips to the bathroom – well, that seemed to make sod all difference. I now have a pint of squash on hand at all times and have become completely addicted to San Pellegrino. It’s like when you’re hungover to hell and think, well, even if I bring this McDonalds right back up, at least I’ll have something to be sick with.
9 Take it easy on your husband
Men will never fully understand what it is to be pregnant, and thank God for that, or the world would surely implode. I’m doing my best to keep the psycho outbursts to a minimum and I try to be rational about the things that are bothering me. Rod has been wonderful with the wee man – this morning he got up, made breakfast and entertained him before taking him out swimming so I could have the morning off. The fact that he left Play Doh all over the table, the milk, butter and juice all out on the counter, the toys strewn everywhere and the plates on top of the dishwasher (which I had switched on last night) was not important. I cleared it all up with good humour and not once did I mutter “could he not tidy as he goes?” I didn’t even mention it to him when they got back. Honest.
10 If in doubt, laugh and say ‘f*ck it’
As overwhelming, tiring and goddamn frustrating as it is to be heavily pregnant and in charge of a three year old – there are worse things. Sometimes I struggle to believe that, but it’s true. So what if people keep hilariously remarking, “Are you sure you’re not having twins?”. So what if I’m endlessly tired cos I’m either settling the wee man who’s doing his newborn impression or relieving my bladder. So I’m gasping for a cocktail, dying to go shopping and making old lady noises every time I get off the couch. It’s not for much longer – and then that’s me done with having babies. So haha, f*ck it, let’s just enjoy the experience…