Chronic illness affects almost half of the entire US population. So if you’re a mom with a chronic illness, from hypertension or diabetes to heart disease or arthritis, you’re definitely not alone. Living with a chronic illness can be different for everyone. Some people are hardly affected, as long as they manage their illness appropriately. Others can find that their chronic illness has a significant impact on their daily lives. If you have a chronic illness that can change what you’re capable of from day to day, it can make being a parent harder for you than most. However, it definitely doesn’t have to stop you from being a good parent or from spending quality time with your children.
You might not be able to have full control over your chronic illness, but there are usually treatment options you can seek. One of the most important things to do is to learn how to advocate for yourself medically. Of course, this isn’t always easy, especially when many medical professionals may not take you seriously. But if you can learn how to stand up for yourself and make yourself heard, and the best things to do when you’re ignored, you can make sure you get the best possible treatment and medical advice. If you struggle to advocate for yourself, it can also be helpful to have others to help you, whether they’re family, friends, or even professionals.
Find What Works for You
It can take time to find what works best for you in terms of both medical treatment and the limits and needs you set for yourself. Even once you’ve worked out a good routine, you can find that there is a time when you need to make a change because it’s not working as well for you anymore. Finding what works for you is essential if you want to be able to live your life as you want to, and be the parent you want to be. That could mean anything from using medical cannabis to help you deal with pain, using a wheelchair some days so you can move around, or watching what you eat to maintain your health. It might take some time and effort to develop a good routine and get to know yourself, but it’s worth it.
Allow Yourself to Rest
Rest is often one of the most important things when you have a chronic illness. If you don’t allow yourself to rest when you can, it can make it a lot more difficult to do what you want the rest of the time. It’s often tough to find the time to rest when you’re a busy mom. There’s always something to do, and you can feel guilty about stopping when you still have a to-do list to work through. But resting allows you to regain your energy and make sure you’re recharged for the most important things.
Know How to Prioritize
Being able to prioritize is essential when you’re a mom with a chronic condition. If you have limited amounts of energy or certain things you can’t do, you need to know what’s most important to you and your family. When you’re juggling lots of different tasks, some of them need to be kept in the air, but some of them can be dropped without the effect being devastating. Picking the kids up from school might be an essential task, but spending an hour cooking dinner might be one that you have to say “not today” about.
To be the best parent you can be, it’s always important to take care of yourself. If you don’t care for your own needs, physically, mentally, and emotionally, you will struggle to be there for your children. Every parent should have support, and that goes double for any parent dealing with a chronic illness. You should seek support from family, friends, or from a wider network, such as a support group. Speaking to professionals such as therapists is another good way to get the support that you need. This puts you in a better position to be there for your children in different ways.
Have Conversations with Your Children
Chronic illness can be frightening for both the parent and child. Children can be scared when they see their parents experiencing illness and might have a range of worries. It’s important for parents to speak to their children about their illness and reassure them. Let your children know that you do have an illness, but you are also receiving the care that you need and taking care of yourself. Keeping them in the dark might seem like kindness, but it could lead to confusion, frustration, fear, and even catastrophizing on the part of the child, who might imagine all sorts of things that aren’t happening.
Get Help with Caregiving
Support from others can be practical, as well as emotional. It’s always helpful for parents to have a network of people who can help with childcare, but it can be even more useful for parents dealing with chronic illness. When you have friends, relatives, and even neighbors who can help you out if your illness flairs up or you don’t have enough energy, you can ensure your children still have what they need. Other adults can also help to care for you if you need it, which helps to lift a burden from your children.
Let Children Help
Children can often feel helpless if their parent isn’t well. Although you might want to avoid getting your children to do things for you, you can allow them to help out when they want to feel more involved. They can do lots of things to feel like they’re helpful and are part of the family. It could be anything from making you a drawing to decorate your hospital room to fetching you a glass of water or picking out a gift for you.
Having a chronic illness doesn’t stop you from being a great parent. You can still be a super mom while managing your health.