How to survive the holidays with children and chronic illness
The school is out for holidays leaving so many parents in a pickle regards how to survive the holidays with children at home and a chronic illness. As a single mum of five sons here is my advice for remaining happy and healthy.
- You never asked for your illness, you never volunteered for it or wanted it to be part of your life so why do you feel guilty? First and foremost you need to lose that guilt. No matter what you do as a parent your achievements will always be inadequate if tarnished with guilt.
- Your children love you regardless of your illness, do you love them any less when they are ill?
- Accept there is no secret cure to prevent flares, they are out of our control. We can try our best to prevent them but sometimes they just happen even when we are being textbook standard humans. So don't punish yourself and blame yourself if you have a flare smack bang in the middle of the summer holidays, you have no control over this at all.
- Don't think a new diet will help you survive the six weeks, it won't. Some claim to be able to cure their illness with diet. I am not questioning them in any way as we are all beautifully unique but if it was THAT simple to cure what I am suffering from diet alone then I would have achieved this. I eat a very healthy diet due to having to control Type two Diabetes with diet, I have some relief from symptoms with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, IBS, depression and Migraines through healthy eating but I am by no means cured in any way. I am happy for the people who do find benefit with the exclusion of sugar, gluten and other various things but you do create a misconception that everyone with this illness can cure it in the same way. Without boring you with the science trust me, there is no fast route to freedom from this illness. So back off clean eaters, aloe vera sap suckers, gluten free guys and Paleo people and stop waving your flag in my face. If you do fancy eating clean here is a great blog Hedi Hearts-Fall back in love with food with all the info and recipes you will need. It may work for you, just don't message me and tell me you are "cured" you may have reduced symptoms, have pain at a reduced level, be sleeping better and waking more refreshed, but I glaze over when people tell me they are cured.
- Check your communication levels with your gang. No matter how old your children are from toddler to adult they should be made aware of how you feel and that sometimes you need rest periods. You are a team and should work together. Explain it at their level and try and be as honest and open as you can. They may feel like the outsider in the relationship between you and your illness. My youngest massages my feet for me when I am in pain, it is his way at age 9 to show he loves me and understands. Let your children close enough to care. Maybe now is a good time to come out of the Fibro closet? Link
- Start your holiday positive, don't even allow one sneaky negative fail word into your day. You will not and can not fail, there is no prize at the end of the six weeks for being the best parent. Don't compare yourself to anyone else, don't compare yourself to the Mary Poppin Mums on Facebook. Every parent posts the Mary Poppins moments but only the funny ones post the Cruella moments also. Have a read of a great funny blog by a Northern lady Eeh Bah Mum this woman has me in stitches with her honesty. Even my favourite mummy blogger (Mummy, daddy ME) has real moments when it all gets too much and she needs her bottle of diet coke, girls in bed and couch snuggles with her Mr. You are a parent but you are also a person so don't be too hard on yourself and expect too much.
- A great survival tactic is being as happy as you can be. Happiness is contagious and your children will catch it also! Here are things that I incorporated into my life long ago when I needed to rid my mind of negativity and create more happiness and positive within my life. Link
- Scheduled medication for pain relief and scheduled rests are a useful part of pacing, a strategy of gaining control over chronic illness by living according to a plan rather than in response to symptoms. Having a chronic pain and fatigue illness requires you to balance every area of life. You need to throw away old routines and start to listen to your body. Link
- Plan ahead, download a calendar for the weeks of the summer holidays and plan ahead. If you know you are planning a trip to the park on Friday then schedule in two days with more sedentary activities that you can do whilst sitting. The bulk of parenting can be done sitting down so use this to your advantage. Children just want quality time with you. Wilkos has some great inexpensive crafting kits to make with your children. Colouring books, fabric pens, a simple pack of cards from the 99p shop can be so much fun and you can do this in your pyjamas with a blanket on the couch.
- Children work well with schedules so if they are pre-seniors make a mini fun timetable. Schedule in rest periods, watching their favourite TV programmes, trips to see Nanny. This also helps them see just how much you do together as they have a super fun-filled time. There are so many ideas you can do with a few pounds, such as make a toy hospital. Get bandages from tearing up an old bed sheet and plasters from the pound shop. Let them chalk all over the garden with pretty pictures, the rain will soon wash it all away.
- Make use of none resident parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles. Never be too proud to ask would they mind the children for you whilst you rest. DO NOT spend this valuable time on social networks or doing household chores. Go to bed and rest! Ask the children if they want a happy parent or a super clean house?
- Meal prep in advance. Double up on ingredients and freeze for another day. That frozen prepared meal may be the life saver when energy levels are low.
- Use your children to do the little jobs you have been wanted to do but never get around to such as sorting the family photos. Family photos will entertain a child for ages! As a child, I felt so special when my Mum let me clean the best glasses in the cabinet. Children LOVE important jobs.
- There is always an itinerary of things to do in your area in the local press. Check if the community has any summer activities close by.
- There is no harm in using the iPad babysitter for an hour while you have a rest just make sure all the settings are secure and you are not placing your child open to danger. Here is how to change the settings to secure on any phone, iPad, laptop. Link
- ALWAYS know your limitations. If you wake and feel dreadful then always ask for help you are not a robot and can not battle on through chronic pain as a parent it is always your duty to put the needs of your children first, asking for help is not a sign of weakness it is a sign of love for your children.
Hope this helps in some way, sorry if your thought it was going to be a link to a wonder drug, a swanky new shake to drink, a new elimination diet or a list of games to play. I know that chronic illness and pain can make us doubt our own worth, but don't allow it.
Do you really need me to tell you how to play with YOUR children? You know them, I don't. Chronic illness or not YOU will always be their best friend and the expert on them so it would be rude and daft of me to tell you how to care for the people you love.
The way I see it is sometimes we just allow pain to make us lose our confidence, it has happened to me also!