Parenting is one of the most challenging yet rewarding jobs on the best of days. Between responsibilities inside the home and out, children certainly require more than it seems any one human could have time for. Throwing the difficulties of a chronic illness into the mix can make even the more simple day-to-day tasks feel tough. We have a few tips for making parenting just a little bit easier regardless of your health circumstances.
Have a Backup Plan
Just like with children, parents will have good days and bad days. On the good days, you feel like Superman while running errands, getting work done and ensuring that toddlers aren’t perpetually trying to eat indigestible items on the floor. And then there are the not-so-great days. Perhaps your child woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Maybe you did. Depending on the symptoms of your chronic illness, you may not have gotten any sleep at all. On days like that, it’s important to have a fallback plan. This is the one you can pull out of your back pocket when things get rough. The specifics will depend on your own circumstances and your child’s temperament, but it can include outdoor exploration, a visit with the grandparents or even simply dropping your plans and spending the day inside.
Teach Responsibility Early On
Handing off chores and tasks to little kids can be a bit of a double-edged sword. However, it’s an excellent learning experience. Try to keep your expectations low about the results, especially in the beginning. If you’re patient, kids are often able to build up their self-confidence and take on more than you might think.
Rely On Routines
Kids really thrive on structure. When everything is so new to them, it provides a safe place where they know the expectations and can feel good about the future. It doesn’t only apply to kids, either. Making sure children are aware of schedules, limitations and responsibilities on both your part and theirs will contribute to smoother sailing for the family as a whole. Some parents use a chore wheel, others prefer to set each child up with the same tasks from week to week. Perhaps you use an allowance system, or maybe you prefer a non-monetized version. There are many ways to build an effective routine, as long as you take into account your family’s unique situation.
Remember that you’re not the only one struggling each day with keeping your family fed, clothed and not covered in who-knows-what. While your own struggles with a chronic illness certainly add depth to your family’s inner workings, you really aren’t that different from the one next door in the long run.