Parenting With Fibromyalgia

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Strategies to Help You Save Energy and Keep up With Your Kids

Kids are energetic, playful and demanding. It’s no secret that being a parent requires a monumental effort at times. When you add a chronic disease to the equation, the responsibility can be daunting.

For those who live with the pain, discomfort and crippling fatigue of fibromyalgia, parenting can also raise a lot of concerns. You may wonder how you can possibly make up for missing out on things, or whether you’re disappointing your kids with your limitations. You may be left feeling anxious and stressed, which is sure to trigger more symptoms.

The good news is that parenting can take a variety of different forms, and there’s no reason you can’t find a perfectly healthy and interactive technique to raise good, loving children. Don’t let your fibromyalgia overshadow your parental personality — take control by learning to adjust your routine based on your unique needs, and those of your children.

Tips to Make Life Easier for Everyone

When your body won’t let you parent the way you’d like to, you might need to bow out of some activities — but that’s not the end of the world. A bit of clever adjustment, honest admission, and open communication can go a long way. In the end, working with your kids is the easiest, most pleasant path to household bliss.

Give Your Kids Credit

Children are more resilient than you might imagine. Sure, it’s never fun to disappoint or to be disappointed, but slowing your pace or opting out of some activities will not irrevocably damage your kids.

Kids love their parents — it’s one of the heart-warming realities of the parent-child dynamic. Trust that they will forgive your shortcomings more easily than you might forgive yourself, because they love you and that’s enough.

However, if you think your children may be questioning your role or devotion, it may be time to have a little straightforward chat about your condition (and your limitations).

Talk Openly and Often

You’ll want to steer clear of technical terms and medical jargon, but it’s a good idea to regularly discuss your fibromyalgia with your kids. If you try to hide your discomfort, your kids will get suspicious (children are very observant), and you could spark some worry and uncertainty.

Instead of covering up and soldiering through your pain and fatigue, explain how your condition makes you feel in clear, concise language. Mention that every day can be a bit different, but you’re not getting worse or “sicker” (that could frighten them). Reassure your kids that you’re still there for them, but some days you can’t be quite as sprightly or hands-on as they might expect.

Recruit Their Help

If you can’t keep up with all the chores and household responsibilities, delegate. Get your kids to help out where they can: even young children can help with general tidying or sorting the laundry, and older kids can pitch in with dishes, sweeping, window washing, and a myriad other tasks that could make your life a whole lot easier.

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You might have more success if you offer a system of rewards for chores around the house. Or simply appeal to their compassion, letting them know in plain terms that your fibro is making it difficult to get everything done today, and you’d really appreciate their help.

Strategies to Prolong Your Energy

It’s important to keep self-care in the front of your mind when you live with fibromyalgia. Of course, that’s easier said than done when you’re raising children, but it’s really the only way to maintain your mobility and improve your vitality.

Regular Exercise

Even though your muscles may feel sore and stiff, exercise is still the best medicine for low energy and lack of motivation. Walking, swimming, biking – whatever you enjoy doing — find a way to fit it into your weekly routine, and commit to (gradually) increasing the time and effort you expend. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

There are even a few activities you can do together with your children that will keep you active, and keep them engaged:

  • Yoga. Perfect for people who need to respect their pain limitations, you can get an extra mat or two and invite your children to follow along with some simple poses as you stretch out your muscles.
  • Post-meal walks. Get in the habit of strolling around the block — or as far as you can go — with your family after dinner.
  • Playground time. Pushing your kid on the swing may not seem like much activity, but rhythmic, repetitive movements can loosen up tight muscles and get your heart rate up before you know it.

Have a Back-Up Plan

No matter how well you take care of yourself, there will be days when you can barely get out of bed, let alone run around the playground. Be sure to have some gentle, stationary activities lined up for those times.

Board games are excellent ways to interact with your kids without overextending yourself, or you may like the idea of a craft table where you can congregate creatively.

Stock some plastic containers with markers, crayons, molding clay and finger paints. Buy a big roll of simple craft paper or cheap white paper, and cut as needed. You might find you enjoy the artistic outlet just as much as your kids do!

Use Alone Time Wisely

Once the kids are in bed (or at school or a friend’s house), turn your focus to yourself. It’s not uncommon to lose sight of your own needs when you have children to think about, but never let those needs fall too far behind. Physically schedule relaxation time in your calendar, and be prepared to turn to that plan as soon as you have the time to yourself.

Get in the habit of using meditation, yoga and progressive muscle relaxation when you find you have a few extra minutes to spare. The more you practice relaxation techniques, the easier they’ll come to you, and the more you’ll be able to get out of a short meditative session. In the end, you need to balance rest and activity to keep up your energy, and keep up with your kids.

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