I’m 36 weeks pregnant and I’m just done. Done with it all, and yet there’s not much I can take off my plate. We still have to eat three times a day at least, laundry needs to be washed and folded, Rory needs a responsible adult to watch him and engage with him for 12+ hours a day, etc.
But still, there are some things I’ve figured out to help me cope with being over it that are worth a post. I think this advice is applicable to anyone who is in a really challenging season of life, not just their third trimester of pregnancy.
Lower your expectations and ask others to lower their expectations of you
There’s no sense in pretending you’ve got boundless energy when you don’t, so get everyone on the same page as you. Give yourself grace, and be honest with what you’re capable of doing, even if it’s half as much as usual. I didn’t do this when I was pregnant with Rory, and it’s a huge regret. I tried to power through every ache and pain, and I took on way more than I should have professionally and personally.
Currently, one of my biggest hurdles is keeping up with planning and cooking meals. I’ve relied on my partner to take on even more of the cooking duties, and when I’m the one in the kitchen I’ve had to majorly scale back what I cook. Sometimes our meals aren’t all that balanced, other times they don’t really hit the spot, but at the end of the day we got food on the plates and tummies fed. That has to be enough for now.
If you need to scale back in any area of your life, it’s okay. When your situation changes and you have more energy, you’ll be ready to go back to your usual routine or have the energy to create a new one.
Ask for help and make it easy for others to offer you help
The hardest part of this might just be identifying specific areas where you need help, or if you’re generally the person everyone counts on it might be asking for help at all. Get really clear with yourself about why you need help and try to let go of any guilt or judgement. Don’t compare yourself to others who appear to have it all together; appearances are deceiving. If something is tough for you, you deserve to ask for and receive support.
Have a list going on your phone or in a notebook of things that need to get done but that can be outsourced. For me, this has meant asking my mom to pick up a pair of maternity leggings when she told me she was out shopping already, or asking my friend to pick up eggs at Costco when she was already making a run. It may seem small, but both examples were a huge help and solved an immediate problem for me. Not having to run out to the store meant I had energy to do things like take my son to his swimming lessons.
When you’re in a really hard season of life, you have to find ways to work smarter, not harder. You’d be surprised how people respond to pleas for help–I’ve found that most people want to help if the requests are reasonable.
Set aside time for fun
Having fun is often the first sacrifice we make in a difficult time, but I think it’s worth preserving. Fun is a natural release valve for tension. If you never make time for fun, you’re always going to feel stressed. I can’t escape being physically uncomfortable and the worry that comes along with being this pregnant, but I can give myself a break to enjoy myself and forget about my cares for a couple of hours at a time.
During the last month I’ve gone to get a pedicure, had two massages, went to dinner with a friend, and had a fancy afternoon tea with another friend. If I hadn’t made the effort to set up these activities, I would have stayed at home feeling sorry for myself and mindlessly scrolling on the internet. It may take a mindset shift to prioritize your own fun and sense of enjoyment, but it’s worth it. It might sound like a lot of time to take off from my regular responsibilities, but all of these activities were one to two hours max once a week.
You have time for fun, I promise. If you have time to worry, switch things up a bit. Spend one hour you’d normally spend down a rabbit hole on the internet and call a friend for a chat while you make yourself a delicious chai latte or paint your nails.
Give yourself all the rewards
I started putting stickers in my calendar for doing mundane things like the dishes and laundry. I have a whole system of stickers, in fact, to denote how good of a job I’m doing on a day to day basis. I buy myself junk food when I’m grocery shopping. I hit the drive through after playdates. I bought a new red lipstick a few weeks ago after running a million annoying errands to get ready for Rory’s birthday party.
My normal self would have felt a lot of guilt and shame for so many indulgences, but I’m literally a different person right now. If you’re not sleeping normally, overworked, pregnant, undergoing treatment, grieving, or transitioning through a really tough phase you need to be extra gentle and kind to yourself. Now is not the time to be regimented, stingy, harsh, or judgmental. Go ahead, eat the cookie.
Of course, be responsible. Don’t plan a Vegas bender just for getting through a work week, but give yourself a reasonable reward for getting up when you just really want to lie down.
Release whatever or whoever weighs you down
If there is something or someone holding you back or weighing you down, let go. Wish them the best (internally/figuratively), and move on with your life. Unfollow, hide their status, and ignore cards, texts, or emails. Maneuver around whatever guilt trip is set up for you. You are wise and know what’s best for you, so trust your gut.
We all have relationships or habits that no longer serve us, and often we keep them around longer than we should. The definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again with the expectation of a different outcome. During a chaotic season is the perfect time to make a change, to release, and let go. I swear it’s going to be okay.