Managing a chronic illness is already a difficult challenge in and of itself. On top of having the responsibilities of a working dad, then living life normally may seem impossible. However, that cannot be further from the truth. While it is tough to manage a chronic illness while providing for your family, there are a lot of ways to make things at least a little easier.
That said, here are some of the best strategies that working fathers can apply while living with a chronic illness:
Accept your illness
For many parents, one of the toughest parts of being diagnosed with a chronic illness is accepting their new reality, which they know would ultimately affect their family life. However, your illness likely won’t go away, and the sooner you accept your new reality, the sooner you can make adjustments to your home life.
Getting through the changes is, more often than not, a difficult part of living with a chronic illness. You may no longer be able to do the things that you used to do, be it playing in the yard with the kids for hours or going on long-haul family vacations. Sometimes, a chronic illness can also change your plans about growing your family.
However, these hurdles are not always impossible to overcome. Although accepting your new reality does not happen overnight, it does get better day by day if you have the right mindset.
Consider home health care
If you need temporary home care while recovering from a serious illness, consider hiring professional home health care services to address your needs as well as the needs of your family. A home health care nurse can drop by and assist you with whatever you may need while you recover or adjust to living life with a chronic illness either on a daily or weekly basis—depending on the level of care that you and your family require.
Let your employer know
Informing your employer about your chronic illness is entirely your own prerogative, but if your illness is something that can potentially affect your work life (e.g. chronic fatigue), it may be a good idea to let your employer know. In that way, they can make accommodations to let you continue working as comfortably as possible. For example, if you experience constant fatigue, you can ask your employer to let you work from home a few days out of the week or perhaps transfer you to a position that is less demanding.
Maintaining an income is extremely important for all working parents with chronic illnesses, especially for sole providers of the family. If you are the only one working, negotiate accommodations with your employer as soon as possible as the need to keep your income is greater than when your spouse is working as well.
Enlist the help of others
The more people you have to help you, the less the burden of a chronic illness (on top of fatherly duties) will be. Work with your spouse or partner—if you have one—to juggle all the household duties as well as your illness management needs. Be sure to communicate openly so that they know exactly what you need, and are thus better able to help you when you need it.
The same goes for your children. If they are old enough, give them age-appropriate tasks around the house to lighten the load on yourself and your spouse. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to ask for help from other family members, friends, colleagues, and other people around you—most dads refrain from doing this in order to not hurt their pride, but doing so can only do more harm than good.
Pay more attention to your health
Whether it’s a mild or severe one, any type of chronic illness should not be taken lightly. The time to get healthy was yesterday, but it’s not too late to start living a healthier lifestyle for your sake as well as your family’s.
Working dads often think that they have no time to eat healthy or exercise, but there is always a way to be healthier than you are now. For example, if you have no time to hit the gym after work, then try walking around the block during your lunch breaks. Or if your schedule leaves little to no time to prepare healthy meals, meal-prep during the weekend and choose the simplest healthy recipes. The bottom line is that there are always strategies to improve your health, no matter how busy you may be.
Working dads often have a ton of responsibilities to take care of, so much so that a chronic illness may seem like the straw on the camel’s back. But as you can see, there are a lot of ways to make life easier—no matter how busy you are and despite living with a chronic illness.