Dealing with chronic pain is a challenge in and of itself; add that on top of parenting, and it can make day-to-day life a lot more complicated than it has to be. But just like any other illness, there are many ways you can live with chronic pain while minimizing its effects on your life, which is especially important when you are a parent.
That said, here are some of the best tips and advice on how to make parenting easier all while dealing with chronic pain:
1. Be more proactive in your treatments
If your current treatment plan isn’t working as well as it should—or is not working at all—it doesn’t mean that you have no other choice but to deal with the pain. Always communicate with your primary care provider about the pain you’re feeling, no matter how insignificant it seems. There might be other methods that can ease your pain more effectively, and you might be keeping yourself from them by not being as communicative as you should.
For example, if you have adult scoliosis and your current treatment doesn’t seem to be working, talk to your doctor about it. There are other treatments that you can look into, such as Schroth method scoliosis treatment, among others. Furthermore, other medications might better relieve your pain and help you live more normally than what you are currently taking. All you have to do is work with your health care providers.
2. Help your children understand
Children deserve to know why their parents can’t play outside with them for longer than a few minutes or why they can’t go on piggyback rides as other children do. It’s best to tell them about your condition as soon as they can understand so that they can rationalize why you can’t do things they see other parents do for their kids.
In doing so, tell them in a way that they can easily understand. Keep it as simple as possible and be honest. For example, you can tell them what your condition is called and what it means. Reassure them that you aren’t going to die (which is an inherent fear in many children), but your condition can sometimes make it difficult for you to do certain things. Let them ask questions, and then answer them as honestly as you can without making them worry.
3. Let your children help
Children love helping out their parents because it makes them feel important. Simple things like picking up an item for you from the floor or fetching you a glass of water can make them feel like a great help. Just make sure that your children don’t become your caregiver; they can help with simple tasks, but they shouldn’t feel like you depend on them for help.
4. Find other ways to spend quality time together
Playing sports or going on bike rides with your child might be out of the question when you have chronic pain. You can give it a try, but if it hurts too much, let them know why you can’t do it. But instead of leaving it at that, suggest other things you can do. Perhaps you can read a book together, go camping in the backyard, or take a short walk with the dog instead. It doesn’t matter if it’s not as “active”—as long as you’re having fun together and you’re spending time with your child, it should be good enough.
5. Make a Plan
A big part of chronic pain management is planning. For instance, if your child has a baseball game on the weekend, rest up in the days beforehand so you can be more active on that day. Alternatively, you can also pre-medicate with a fast-acting pill but do so sparingly to avoid the risk of addiction.
It also helps to schedule “active” days with your children to help you manage pain better. For example, you can set activities every Saturday and prepare for them ahead of time by taking them easy. If you have a partner, it is also a great idea to take turns doing housework so that you can get enough rest before a pre-planned active day—or whatever works for the current setup in your family.
With chronic pain, it’s essential to focus on what you can do instead of what you cannot do, especially when it comes to your kids. Parenting with chronic pain is not easy, but day-to-day life can become much more manageable with the right mindset, strategy, and preparation.