Chronic illness sufferers will never escape the need to meticulously plan their lives and schedule activities, that is just the reality of dealing with physical ailments that require the quarantine of energy for mandatory activities. But is it enough to just survive, survive the day, the week, the month? Don’t you want to thrive not just survive?
For many chronic illness sufferers it takes so much energy to function, to be all the things you have to be, whether that’s being a parent, a partner, a friend, a worker, a volunteer, run your own business or a combination of all these and more. Once you have done the essentials things you have to do there is usually little energy for much else. Sometimes the difficulty in managing day to day activities when you’re in pain or a bout of chronic illness can be impossible and as a result relationships’ can suffer, your job, your ability to do things with your children and you can be left feeling like you are merely existing, going through the motions and try to keep one foot in front of the other. You spend all your energy just trying to survive.
Everyone deserves the chance to thrive and not just survive and not just live in a state of ‘existence’ regardless of whether you suffer from a chronic illness or pain. You may not be able to affect your illness or condition, but there are lots of things you can do to improve the quality of your life and get the most out of it by employing some simple changes.
We’ve got some simple suggestions for you that can nudge you a step closer to thriving and break the feelings of helplessness and sometimes despair. You deserve to thrive not just survive!
Tips for thriving
A messy or cluttered house can have a huge impact on your stress levels and how you cope with bouts of un-wellness. Try and work through getting organised when you are well enough and do what you can to make your home as easy to maintain as possible. Plan ahead and tackle one big job a month, whether that’s cleaning out the laundry, sorting out the kids toys or organising the pantry.
We’ve done some super simple things around the home such as putting everything in tubs in the linen press, single sheets in one tub, quilt covers in other and found some cute chalkboard labels on the front. Makes like easier for keeping items together and for finding what you need. We’ve also done the same in the laundry and kitchen, even organised the kids play area into cube shelving, loose items in fabric drawers and everything else group by type of activity and stack for the kids to access themselves. Do what works for your home and what will alleviate the stress and reduce the amount of tidying up you need to do and by having a simple system your kids can follow then they can take some responsibility to having a place for all their items.
Stay tuned, we have a guest blogger who is an expert in organisation and de-cluttering your life and will be sharing her tips very soon!
Schedule your ‘must do’ activities and PACE YOURSELF!!
Use a calendar, a white board or a diary and schedule the things you must do at home. Consider the tasks that must be done like vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, washing etc and schedule a task each day, spread out the more physically demanding jobs so you’re not doing them all in one day. It is tempting to put aside a day to do your housework but as we all know that can be too much and can set you back or send you into a relapse. Most of us are terrible at pacing ourselves but it is critical for your ongoing wellness to learn to pace yourself and be disciplined enough to do it.
Pace yourself and schedule your physically demanding tasks over the week, even giving yourself a day in between them to do gentler tasks like folding laundry while watching TV or doing paperwork. Once you get yourself into a routine you will be amazed how much easier it gets and how much less physically demanding it is for you.
Plan ahead with meal prep
Meal time and school lunches can be stressful and exhausting for any parent, we’ve seen some great tips out there for school lunch prep that you can whip up on a Sunday and let the kids chose their selection each day. Check out https://www.theseasonedmom.com/meal-prep-lunches/ for some great ideas. As for dinner time prep, take some time out to plan ahead your meals for the week, get organised and set up a clear shopping list. Not only will you find you’re eating healthier but you’ll save money and time too. The other really important factor here is eating well and eating the right diet for your illness. Knowing your body and what you need to feel your best is so important to your wellbeing, the better you eat the better you will feel.
Also get the kids involved in cooking, aside from teaching them valuable skills it’s a chance to bond over food preparation and this gives you a helping hand too.
Have a go to list of activities to do with your kids
Have a list of activities ready to go so on your bad days you don’t have to think too much about how to keep the kids entertained. Check out our pre-prepared list here.
Another tip is to get a tub with go to activities your kids can choose from, go to a cheap shop and grab a plastic tub, put some craft activities in it that aren’t too taxing and consider it your ‘bad day treasure chest’ that the kids choose from. We love the range of super affordable activity sets you can get from Kmart here in Australia but check out your local cheap store as they usually have a great range of cheap craft sets.
For kids who love to build and get creative keep a tub of your recycling, empty boxes, tubs, cans and plastic bottles that they can access to build robots, houses or anything their imagination desires. All you need a big supply of sticky tape!
Don’t be so hard on yourself
It’s ok to not get everything done, it’s ok if you can’t do what everyone else does and it certainly is ok to not keep up with Joneses. Try being gentler on yourself and not holding yourself to the same expectations you did before illness. You will drive yourself mad, it will chip away at your self-worth and add to your feelings of frustration.
As a dear friend of mine has often said ‘Done is better than perfect’ and I try to always remember that, it’s better to get something done than to wait until it’s perfect or try and achieve perfect results.
Carve out time for your passion
What is it that you love doing? What are you passionate about and what nourishes your soul? Find what you love and what helps recharge your batteries and carve out a small amount of time each week to do it. Do you love taking photos, pottering in the garden, craft or knitting, tinkering on your car, building things around the home? Find it and book in time for yourself as a priority. By feeding your soul you will feel happier and more balanced and your kids will see an important lesson in action, that self-care and following your heart is good for you. You may feel like that is an indulgence but it is not, the better you feel, the happier you are then the better parent you can be, remember you’re no good to anyone if you fall in a heap and can’t cope yourself, so taking care of you is good for everyone.
Got more ideas on what helps? We always love to hear from our fellow parents so if you have a good suggestion then let us know and we will add it to our list to share in the chronic illness community, head over to our Contact us page to send us an email.