Are you one of the 133 million Americans who currently suffer from a chronic illness (a disease that lasts longer than three months)? If so, you know how debilitating these diseases can be.
If you are chronically ill and are also a parent, it’s easy to look at your situation and feel frustrated and even hopeless. Parenting with a chronic illness isn’t easy, but it is possible for you to maintain your health and look after your family by making some healthy lifestyle changes.
Read on to learn about ten healthy lifestyle tips that will help you manage your symptoms, work toward remission, and care for your children, all at the same time.
1. Be Open with Your Children
First, it’s important to be open with your children about your condition — don’t keep them in the dark and pretend that everything is fine. It’s not fair to you or them.
Of course, the extent to which you can share information about your illness will vary depending on their age. A toddler isn’t going to understand what a chronic illness is. But, you can explain to them that sometimes you don’t feel well and need to lie down and rest.
2. Write Things Down
Cognitive difficulties or “brain fog” are common complaints among people with chronic illnesses. One way to circumvent this and make sure you don’t forget anything important (a child’s soccer game, an appointment at their school, etc.) is to write everything down.
Keep a notebook and pen near your nightstand, or use the notes app on your phone to keep a record of all of your and your child’s appointments.
3. Avoid Prolonged Negativity
A long-term negative attitude is incredibly draining, not just for you, but for everyone else in your family.
It’s okay to feel upset or frustrated, of course. In fact, denying these feelings can bring about additional negative consequences. But, try not to dwell on them for too long. Seek to strike a balance and look for things to smile about — it can be as simple as noticing a butterfly flying be your window or laughing at something your child said.
4. Use Natural Supplements When You Can
If you don’t like the effects of stronger painkillers or other medications, consider looking for natural supplements that offer the same benefits. Many nutritional supplements for arthritis (such as turmeric and glucosamine) are beneficial for people suffering from chronic pain or chronic fatigue.
5. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
Remember that there’s nothing wrong with asking for help and support. Enlist your partner, a friend, or family member to help you with chores, picking your children up from school, or preparing meals.
Try to create a network of people you can turn to on days when your symptoms are particularly bad. When you’re feeling better, be sure to thank them for their help, too!
6. Find a Good Child Care Program
Sometimes, you need a break. This is true for all parents, but especially those with chronic illnesses.
Look for local child care programs designed to help give parents with chronic illness some relief. These programs may also offer counseling or other services to provide you and your family with additional help.
7. Seek Social Support
It’s easy to feel alone when you’re suffering from a chronic illness. Luckily, in today’s digital age, there are lots of ways to connect with other parents who are struggling with the same or similar issues.
Search for online support groups where you can get parenting advice and tips on managing your symptoms. You can also find lots of blogs and YouTube channels dedicated to providing support and information — follow them so that you always have a place to turn.
8. Put Your Health First
Finally, remember to put your health first. It’s hard to do as a parent — after all, you’re conditioned to believe that your children’s needs are more important.
Remember, though, that if you let your health go, you’re not going to be able to give your kids the support they need. Take time for yourself first so that you can put your best foot forward for them.
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