Parenting is an extremely tough job for anyone. When you throw a chronic illness into the mix, it’s even more challenging. When you become a parent, you not only have to take care of your needs; you have to take care of your child’s needs too. Therefore, you need to be creative, strong, courageous and vigilant in your efforts to care for yourself while successfully balancing life and family. The good news is that you can do it. In this article, we’ll discuss a few proven strategies to help you work through your symptoms while being present for your kids. They are as follows:
- Ask for help when you need it. Asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness. Being able to recognize when you are not able to do something on your own is a sign of tremendous strength and insight. Do you have friends that have kids the same age(s) as yours? Perhaps swapping childcare or playdates would work. Do you have relatives in the area? Perhaps they are willing to chip in and help. How about a church or another type of support system? In many cities, there are “mom day out” programs that enable you to enjoy some alone time while someone else cares for your kids. The key is to find a childcare arrangement that works for you. One that provides you with a little down time to do the things that you need to do.
- Have a toolbox of alternative activities available. Depending on the age of your children, it’s a great idea to have several optional “easy-for-you” activities. After all, there will likely be days when you simply aren’t able to get everything done. For instance, let’s say that you wake up one morning and had planned to take the kids for a short hike but quickly realize that you’re in the middle of a flare-up and are no longer going to be able to make the trek. Instead of feeling guilty, switch things around. Maybe a picnic at home or in the backyard would be nice. Perhaps you could do a nature walk around the block. The point is, have some go-to activities always ready to jump into if needed. After all, you’re not giving something up. Instead, you’re going with the flow and making the most of the situation – and that’s to be commended.
- Be open with your child about your condition. In an age-appropriate manner, let your child know that sometimes Mommy doesn’t feel great. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Simple is always best. This is a wonderful way to teach your children empathy. They WILL encounter children throughout their lives that have invisible illnesses, and understanding more about yours will encourage them to be empathetic when they meet other people with chronic illnesses.
- Let go of the guilt. Do the best you can with what you’ve got. Don’t compare yourself to the other moms and what they do. Remember what you see of another mother’s parenting is what they want you to see. Instead, strive to be the best mom that you can be. Concentrate on those things you can do and not on those things you can’t do. Love yourself and your child unconditionally and live the best life you can live.
- Have a sense of humor. This is definitely easier said than done, but it’s a huge benefit to you if you can take a step back and remember the humor in your everyday activities. Parenting has a plethora of comedic material always at the ready. Enjoy what you can – draw laughter from the irony of some situations and know that you will get through – possibly even with a smile on your face!
Starting each day with a flexible attitude and recognizing that each day will surely not go as you planned are going to be key to getting through the parenting years. After all, it’s those days that don’t go accordingly that challenge us to think outside the box and try innovative ways to make the most of the situation. Just remember that you may have to put off writing that best-selling novel for a day, the laundry may pile up, and the house may not be vacuumed, but it’s all okay. Know your limitations, respect them and be ready to go with a “Plan B” whenever necessary. You’ve got this!