Ask a Storytime Ninja: Pregnant and Storytiming
Here’s the latest Ask a Ninja question. As always, please comment if you have anything to add.
I’d love more information about being pregnant and doing storytime including adaptations, odd situations and more.
Jennie (@kidsilkhaze) says: The nice thing about pregnancy, is the physical limitations come on gradually, so you can learn what you can and can’t do with enough time to plan around it. My big modification was just bending my knees and raising my arms instead of actually jumping. Towards the end, I made sure everything was in easy reach, because getting in and out of my chair could be a production.
The other nice thing is that many of the adults in a storytime have recently been pregnant themselves, or deal with pregnant people, so they’re very understanding. (Relatedly, they’re also the most polite. My storytime moms were the LAST people to ask me if I was expecting. Even though I was 7.5 months along and looked like I had a beach ball under my shirt. They never patted my belly or asked horrible questions.)
Before I get into my advice, congratulations! I hope you have a happy, healthy pregnancy. OK, here we go!
1) Do what you think you can handle. People will understand, most of them being moms themselves. I had to change our opening routine entirely as for years it had been very high-energy with lots of movement and I had to change it to something much more slow-paced. It was an adjustment for the kids, but a needed one. And even after I had the baby and came back to work after maternity leave, I appreciated the slower pace since I was still exhausted from sleep deprivation. If you are having a bad time with morning sickness (I once threw up moments before opening the doors for storytime!), ask your doctor about prescription or other remedies. Remember that it gets harder to breath as you get further along so you will have to be conscious of that when reading. I also had some vision difficulties while pregnant so I had to wear my glasses more
2) Prepare a scaled-back SRP. Again, you do what you have to do. My due date with my daughter was June 12th and our SRP was scheduled to start June 9th of that year. I was also the only children’s librarian. Luckily with pregnancy, you know you will need some kind of leave, so you can plan further ahead. My paraprofessional staff really stepped up and ran a decent SRP for me. We didn’t shatter any registration records or anything but there was a SRP. It was a smaller town than yours, so most people knew I would be off and there weren’t a lot of questions. But even in a big town, your regulars will know that you are on maternity leave. Remember your due date is just an educated guess! Most first time babies arrive within the week after the due date, but plenty come earlier too. You also may wind up on bed rest, so my advice is to plan far ahead and make sure multiple people know how everything is supposed to go. You may wish to scale back on programming plans for the rest of your pregnancy as well.
3) It’s best to decide now how much information you want to give out and practice making polite responses to questions that are intrusive. While pregnant, I was asked everything from were you planning children? were you on birth control? what preschool are you planning to send her to? Is your husband disappointed that the baby is not a boy? Are you planning to breast feed? After I was back from maternity leave the questions were still there: Have you given up on breastfeeding yet? etc.
4) I advise everyone to not make a firm decision about being a stay at home mom at first. You just don’t know how you’ll feel about it for sure. I know several moms who quit their jobs and then discovered that being a stay at home mom wasn’t the lifestyle for them. It can be grueling being home all day with a baby and can be an isolating choice. On the other hand, I know lots of happy SAHMs too. You can always resign later if that’s your choice. Being a full-time working mom is the right choice for me and my family, even though it’s not always easy.
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