Some links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, Hand to Hold will earn a commission if you make a purchase.
by Angela Davids of KeepEmCookin.com
When I was pregnant with my daughter, my OB placed me on bed rest due to several occurrences of preterm labor. It was the absolute longest six weeks of my life. Or so I thought.
For my son, I spent 15 weeks on bed rest, starting at 24 weeks because of a short cervix and contractions. This time around I had the added challenge of caring for my daughter, now two-and-a-half years old and not in preschool yet. How was I going to keep her busy and still find ways for us to spend time together?
There can be a lot of guilt that comes with bed rest, like relying on your partner to take on many more responsibilities or leaving your co-workers holding the bag for your tasks. Any mom can tell you that there is no worse guilt than Mommy Guilt. Not being able to lift your child is emotional torture, as is not being able to bathe them or tuck them in at night. It pained me to see a babysitter take my daughter to “our” park, and to not be able to support her potty-training that had been well underway. But, with 15 weeks on bed rest I learned to make the best of the situation and even to create some special memories along the way.
That experience and my friendship with author and fellow bed rest mom Jennifer Degl inspired us to write a book about how moms on bed rest can reassure their children and stay connected. It’s called Stuck In Bed: The pregnancy bed rest book for kids … and moms. Here I’ll be sharing a few ideas from the book, along with several others.
1. The countdown
Write the number of days until your due date on sticky notes or on a roll of toilet paper or paper towels. Let your child rip one off each day. You can also make a beaded necklace, with a certain number of beads added each day of your pregnancy.
2. Playdough? Oh, no.
Oh, yes! Spread out an old sheet under both of you. When you’re done, clean up what you’re able to and then leave what’s left in the sheet and fold it up. The Playdough crumbs will dry and your partner can easily shake them into the trash.
3. Feather battle
Each of you has a feather and is challenged to keep it in the air the longest by blowing on it. Did you know that being on bed rest can lower your lung capacity? This game can help to keep your lungs in shape. (Be sure to ask your doctor if it might be too strenuous.)
4. Afternoon at the theater
Young children love to use their imaginations and to be the center of attention. Encourage them to act out the role of a favorite character from a book or movie. If there’s a way you can work yourself into the “play” that’s even better. You can be the alligator from Peter Pan or Aurora from Sleeping Beauty. If you’re allowed to sit up for part of the day, you can “fly” a rocket from a recliner. You will be surprised how creative you can be when you have to.
5. Four o’clock dance party
If your child still naps, he or she will be well rested and probably have some energy to burn, especially if you both have both been home all day. You could put on some classical music to encourage ballet-style or interpretive dance. In the other direction, go all out with “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, “I Feel Good” by James Brown, or “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake. Pick anything that makes your child want to move.
6. Who loves you so much?
Ask your child to name all of the people who love him or her and ask them what they’d like to do together in the weeks ahead. Ask your child to draw a picture of them and you can write captions below.
7. Educational online games
I never planned to let my daughter on the computer at such a young age … until I was on bed rest. That’s reality! This became an interactive activity to do only with Mommy, both to limit screen time and to have an activity special to us. There are some wonderful games for preschoolers on the PBS Kids and Sesame Street websites. I’m not sure I can give full credit to those games, but my daughter was reading before she turned four. I think we can also attribute that to reading lots and lots (and lots) of books during that time!
8. Build a fort
Ask your child to gather up pillows, cushions and blankets and build a fort all around you. How many pillows did it take? What colors are they? How do they feel?
9. Board (bored!) games
They’re a classic for a reason. Look for games that involve shapes, colors and counting. Candyland is a great choice because it doesn’t require too many pieces. Same for Chutes and Ladders. There’s a battery-operated game called Let’s Go Fishin’ that is recommended for ages 4 and up and you can play it again and again together while you’re on your side. Again, these games are to play just with Mommy, to keep them special.
10. Breaking news
Use this time on bed rest for your child to connect with your partner and other family members by going on adventures. Your child wants out of the house as much as you do. When he or she gets home, they can tell you all about it!
Something to Remember
Let me leave you with a final thought about how resilient kids can be. I wanted to be as close to my daughter as I could and to try to maintain her daily routine as much as possible, so we put a mattress in the family room so that I could be with her most of the day. For almost four months we told her, “Mommy has to stay on the blue square. It helps the baby to grow.”
Then the night that I hit 37 weeks, my husband dragged that mattress out to the curb to go out with the trash! I never wanted to see it again. That mattress was the center of our lives. The next morning, my daughter came downstairs, and just for a moment she looked at the space where the mattress had been and made a curious expression. Then without hesitation she asked, “Mommy gets me milk now?” And life was back to normal.
Angela’s latest book, Stuck in Bed: The pregnancy and bed rest picture book for kids…and moms, co-authored with Jennifer Degl, is available on Amazon.
About Angela Davids
Angela Davids is the creator of KeepEmCookin.com, an educational website and online support group for women who are experiencing a high-risk pregnancy or who are at risk of delivering prematurely. She spent a total of 21 weeks on bedrest during her two pregnancies. She faced multiple complications, but ultimately delivered her daughter at 39 weeks and her son at 39 weeks and 3 days. Her favorite part of running KeepEmCookin.com is reading the many success stories she hears from members. She can say with confidence, “Anything is possible.”