How to Parent around Your MS Symptoms
If you have multiple sclerosis (MS), you’re probably worrying about how MS can or will get in the way of doing stuff with your kids. You probably have some set ideas about what parents ought to be able to do with and for their children.
If you don’t have kids yet, you may be picturing the way your mom and dad did things with you. If you already have children, you’re probably busy comparing what things were like before you got MS with how you’re feeling now.
For example, if you experience MS fatigue, you know that when you hit that wall, there’s no way around it — all of a sudden, you’re simply out of gas. Unfortunately, your MS fatigue may peak just about the same time that the kids are coming home from school, dinner needs to be cooked, and the family is getting together for the evening.
If you’re coming home from a long day at work, you may not have much energy left for anyone or anything. Here are some ideas to help you make the most of your family time:
Make good use of power naps. If you can carve out 30 minutes to rest before the kids get home, do it. Or, if you can come in from work and rest for a little while before joining the family, do it. Kids will understand your need for rest time as long as you explain the plan and promise to do something with them afterwards.
If you don’t need or want to sleep during your rest time, you can invite your kids to read with you, tell you about their day, or play a quiet game.
Set your priorities. If quality time with your kids is high on your list, spend less time on the things that aren’t as important. Figure out what you want to do with each child — help with homework, read a bedtime story, or watch a program — and plan around it. You don’t need to spend a lot of time — you just need to make the time you have count.
Keep things simple. Dinner doesn’t need to be a banquet. Come up with some simple but nourishing menus, and do things the easiest way possible (for example, by using pre-cut salad ingredients or planning menus that provide plenty of leftovers).
Take a look at the book by Shelley Peterman Schwarz called Multiple Sclerosis: 300 Tips for Making Life Easier (Demos Health) for ideas on how to save your energy for the important stuff.
Ask for help. Ask family members to pitch in and help — and remind them how everyone will benefit in the long run is okay. For instance, consider these examples: “Sara, if you help me with the dishes tonight, we’ll have more time to spend on your science project.” Or, “Honey, would you make the kids’ lunches so I can sit and read with them for a while?”
Just remember that teamwork makes the chores go faster and you may even have some fun while you’re doing them.
Sometimes, MS fatigue has the last word. If you need to lie down, invite your kids to join you for a bedtime story or a nice chat and a cuddle.