Living with Chronic Pain
6 Tips for Parenting With Chronic Pain
As the old adage goes, “Parenting is the hardest job you will ever love.” Being a parent is both rewarding and challenging. It can be especially challenging when one or both parents have chronic pain.
Six tips for parenting with chronic pain include the following:
- Take care of yourself first. Parents need to take care of themselves in order to provide the best care for their children. Although it may seem counterintuitive, prioritizing treatments and doctor appointments as well as taking time to rest and practice self-care can reduce pain and improve energy levels, which contributes to better parenting.
- Plan ahead and pace yourself. Engaging in too many demanding activities in one day can increase pain levels and may require recovery time to recuperate afterward. For example, if a child has a dance recital on a certain evening, it may be best to avoid scheduling a doctor’s appointment or plan on baking for the school’s bake sale on that day. Spreading out tasks and balancing activity with rest can help.
- Teach your children to help around the house. Kids are often more capable than adults realize. Children can help with age-appropriate activities, such as putting their dirty clothes in the hamper, pushing a grocery cart, picking up items from low grocery store shelves, or taking out the garbage. When children complete a chore, using positive reinforcement increases their self-esteem and independence.
- Avoid comparing yourself to other parents. Parents without chronic pain may be able to engage in more activities with their children than parents with chronic pain. This doesn’t mean their parenting is better. Most families deal with challenges that are not visible to others, and what is right for one family is not always right for another. Avoiding comparisons to other families can reduce feelings of inadequacy. When parents do their best to raise children to be contributing members of society, that is enough, regardless of what others are doing.
- Be flexible. No one is perfect, and no day is perfect. Rescheduling a family game night or giving children a little extra screen time so the parent with chronic pain can rest is not the end of the world. Being flexible and letting go of guilt is essential for parents with chronic pain.
- Ask for help when needed. Parenting with chronic pain cannot and should not be an independent effort. There is no shame in asking a relative or friend for help with chores or childcare. Some parents may be eligible for services such as a home health aide who can take care of things around the house so that the parent can spend more time with their children.
Additional resource: Creaky Joints