Having Older Children Help During Pregnancy – Where Do You Draw the Line?Diana Stone
As third trimester starts, the second trimester energy is starting to fade. I have bursts of “nesting,” but more and more I feel the exhaustion and the literal weight of carrying a baby around everywhere. I’m tired.
So right now, I try to ask for help when I can from people that are around. We all do this at some point, and for many of us it means having older children help during pregnancy.
One of these is my daughter Bella. At 3 1/2, she’s capable of doing so much that just piles up on me.
Let the dog out. Feed him in the morning. Put her bowls in the sink. Help me unload the dishwasher by handing up the safe stuff. Clean up her mess. Run to get me something in another room. (Obviously in this picture she’s “nopping” but only because she asked to do a small space.)
Most of these I’m comfortable with asking. She’s finding her own place in our routine, learning responsibility. I can see her start to figure out that its easier to pick up a mess before making a new one. That putting things back where they belong saves her an extra trip the next time.
What I have to balance carefully is the line between age-appropriate skills and the ones she can do for me when I’m tired or hurting. It’s so easy for me to ask her over and over to, “Grab Mama this, pick up that, will you do this?” Often she’s such a willing helper, so eager to please, that I find myself having her be a little grownup without meaning to.
Of course, a few weeks or months of this isn’t going to hurt anything. What I have to remind myself is that when the baby comes, it will require even more from me and my husband physically. There will be more times I’ll have to do something that might be easier to get Bella to do simply because it’s not her job. She needs room to be a big sister instead of a pretend Mama. I know how tempting it can be to have her do so much, but I also know how hard it is to get away from that pattern. I never want her to feel like she spent her childhood taking care of her siblings instead of having the freedom to be a little girl.
It’s a fine line. I love that at her age, she truly makes so much of my pregnancy easier. She can entertain or help herself. I’ll love watching her nurture and care for our little boy. I hope that I’m able to encourage her to still be 3 while remembering that myself.
Photo Credit: my own