Parenting is hard, don’t let anyone tell you any different. As parents, we want to do our absolute best for our kids. We are plagued with doubt as to whether we are doing the right thing! It can feel like an uphill battle that you are never thanked for, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Bearing in mind how tough parenting is for someone who doesn’t have a chronic illness, imagine how hard and challenging it is for someone who does.
Chronic illness flares can happen anytime, anywhere occasionally without warning, which are physically and mentally draining. For me when a flare happens I’d like to say that it doesn’t stress me out or fill me with the worst mum guilt imaginable but I’d be lying! I try to minimise the stress and guilt by following these tips I’ve picked up over the years.
Our little person is in a perpetual fussy stage and will only each 3 – 4 different things at dinner time. He’s going to get a shock when we finally start trying out new dishes. In the past when he wasn’t so fussy or it was just my husband and me, I would go for no-fuss meals when in a flare. Anything that requires a lot of chopping, prepping or time standing is a no-no. Which meant we would end up going for the unhealthy options of ready meals, processed foods or takeaways.
Now that the summer holidays are ending, the plan is to start taking full advantage of our slow cooker. This might mean that we have to buy prepared vegetables or my husband may have to do it before he leaves for work, but it will mean that I can simply switch it on and leave it to do the work for me and if I have to make anything to go with it like rice or potatoes it shouldn’t be too much for me to cope with.
Break Chores Into Smaller Achievable Chunks
Sadly there are some household tasks that require doing when a flare is in progress. Laundry and dishes seem to pile up and multiple, like gremlins feed after midnight. If I am unable to leave it until David gets home from work. I’ll chop the chores up into smaller manageable sections. For example, if I’m putting a load of washing on. I’ll go through the laundry basket and place the clothes to be washed on the floor. Then have a rest, a short while later picking up the clothes, load them into the washing machine. If needed I’ll have another rest before putting in the detergent, fabric softener and switching the machine on.
Little Helping Hands
Kids often have this habit of following their parents around the house (mine does anyway). He’s always wanting to know what I’m doing and trying to get involved.
Making sure I’m in the room, that there is no sharp objects and that the water isn’t too hot. Our little person loves water, letting him play and clean some dishes as he does it is a win for both of us.
Tidying up toys is one thing we try to encourage all the time, more so when I’m flaring though. Physically I am unable to tidy up or put toys back in the bedroom, so it becomes A’s responsibility.
A Little Extra Screen Time Is Ok
As parents we are shamed and made to feel guilty for allowing our children to use tablets, play video games or watch tv. When struggling with fatigue and pain, taking time to recover is key! If that means a little extra time on the tablet or in front of the tv then that’s how it’s got to be.
We try to make sure that any apps, games and shows are age appropriate and have some form of learning aspect. Although there are times where the videos are complete and utter nonsense, but it keeps him entertained and when my pain and fatigue is bad him being occupied and content is the most important thing.
Listen To Your Body Always, Not Only During An Illness Flare
Ignoring my body and pushing myself too far when flaring is something that I have done time and time again. I know I shouldn’t as it prolongs the flare, but I begin to feel guilty that I’m not doing cool mummy things or getting stuff done in the house. So I would push myself until it is psychically impossible for me to get out of bed, making me feel even more guilt.
Teaching myself that I have to listen to my body and rest when it tells me to whilst trying to not feel guilty, has been a hard lesson to learn. There are times when resting I feel that I should be doing something productive but whenever this happens I tell myself that resting is self care for chronic illness and that I’m doing what is best for me and for my family.
Asking For Help Doesn’t Make you Bad At Parenting
Parenting as I said is hard work, with social media showing us a idolised version of what the perfect family life should be, we unnecessarily put this unwanted pressure on ourselves to be like the people we see online. We tend not to want to admit that we need help or ask for it. We feel that we will be judged or labelled bad parents. Simply this isn’t true. The saying it takes a village isn’t just a made up thing we tell ourselves its fact!
This tip isn’t only for those parenting with chronic illness but for all parents out there. There is no shame in asking for help. Even if its asking someone to pick something up at the shop for you as you won’t be able to get out the house that day. Or chatting with a friend to vent to or simply have a conversation that isn’t about Paw Patrol. Or asking a trusted friend or family member to look after your child for a few hours or overnight, doesn’t make you a bad parent.
I know that not everyone is in the position where they’ve got people close by to help out. If you do don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask. I’m sure they will be more than happy to help out. Plus they get to spend some time with your children, which will help your child develop strong bonds with whom ever they are spending time with.
Do you have any tips for helping parenting through a flare? Would you like to share with me and my readers leave them in the comments.