Thursday, January 23, 2014
The First Trimester, Fatigue and Housework
I have a friend named Kim. She is in the first trimester of her pregnancy. In addition to being pregnant, she has other little ones underfoot.
Before our visit today, she warned me that her house was not up to her normal standards. As you may have guessed, Kim is somewhat of a perfectionist. Some people believe that the cleanliness of a home is a reflection of the woman who lives there. If it does not pass the white glove test according to them, whoever them is, we feel shamed, as though we don't measure up.
So as I entered her home, imagining the floors would be strewn with socks and dirty clothes, I found it to be virtually spotless as usual. But of course, it matters not what I think. It wasn't up to her near perfect standard.
As we talked in her kitchen, we were surrounded by her two adorable and extremely active toddlers. They were running back and forth one minute. Then they were riding by us in a little scooter waving as they went. Then they had some sort of swords they were using to fence one another, and then using the blades to slide through the Christmas tree branches. I surmised by it being late January that she didn't have the energy to put the tree up yet. Eventually, she cut up some cheese and crackers and we were joined by the little ones as they colored and snacked away. When I asked her how she felt, Kim told me how exhausted she was. Of course, the exhaustion was compounded by having to run behind two toddlers all day. She asked me for some words of wisdom, knowing I had been down this path before.
A flood of memories surged through my mind....and took me back....way, way back.
It was August of 1992 and I was pregnant with my third child. I had two other rambunctious tykes running helter skelter all around me. They were five and three years old. We were in the backyard and I was laying on my back with my feet up on a lawn chaise. As they played and screamed in high pitch tones I remember the feeling of utter exhaustion consuming me as I laid my back. My eyelids felt like potato sacks and I closed them. I came as close to sleep as I could because I had to keep an eye on them. I was depleted of all energy. "How am I going to make it through this?" I wondered.
And got through it I did. And I learned some lessons along the way. Here's some of my survival advice that I gave to Kim.
SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY
LOWER YOUR STANDARD
It's not often I give this advice to anyone. But when it comes to an immaculate home and the first trimester of pregnancy, lowering your white glove standard is crucial. A few dust bunnies never killed anybody. Carpets don't need to be vacuumed everyday. Instead of worrying about the dirt and clutter growing around you, concern yourself with the miraculous new life growing and forming within your womb! This first trimester takes it out of you.
If you are a perfectionist, this will be especially difficult because it means you will have to ignore and look past the dirt. I know how hard it is but this is a life lesson. What's most important is not a clean house, but a rested body and a quiet heart. Not you running around like a chicken trying to impress other people or live up to your mother in law's standards or even your own. There'll be plenty of time to clean
REDUCE THE LAUNDRY
One of the best ways of reducing laundry is to wear clothes more than once. I know some people may be aghast at such a thought. Granted, if your little toddler was outdoors making mudpies all afternoon, then his clothes undoubtedly need to be thrown in the laundry pile. But if on a typical day, he's coloring, playing with blocks, watching Sesame Street, his clothes are not dirty. He can certainly wear them again, and again. Your goal is not to be washing clothes for washing clothes sake. Only if they are genuinely soiled or smelly. Remember, your energy at this time is precious, conserve it!
SIMPLIFY DINNER - BREAK OUT THAT CROCK POT!
If you fancy yourself to be Betty Crocker or Julia Childs, that's fabulous. But save that ideal for another time. Think in terms of simple dinners. Chopping veggies up can be tedious work. Buy pre-cut vegetables when you can. Dust off that Crock pot and put it to good use. There are so many delicious recipes you can find online like on http://allrecipes.com/recipes/everyday-cooking/slow-cooker/ or purchase a slow cooker recipe cookbook. Just make sure the recipes are not complicated and read reviews to hear other's feedback.
Here's one of my favorites which I learned from a friend. In the morning, put a few chicken breasts in the slow cooker along with drained black beans, salsa, corn and some sour cream. Let it cook on low for the day and by dinner time you'll have a tasty meal. Serve over rice. Sorry I don't have exact measurements. I just kind of eyeball it.
So these are just a few ideas to make life easier for the exhausted first trimester mom. What other ideas do you have? Please leave your ideas in the comment section.
Meanwhile, get some rest!