After the popularity of last month’s post, we caught up with Natalie Gardner a.k.a The Spoonie Mummy to chat a little more about how she copes with looking after three kids while living with arthritis.
She’s not shy to admit that juggling everything life throws at her can be hard, but she’s got a number of handy life hacks that help her cope with the daily routine.
Her tips are a must-read, so what are you waiting for...
Get outdoors and stay active
Do things that you know will help you out too! A gentle walk in the park serves as a healthy dose of low impact exercise and while you’re out you could get the kids doing a nature treasure hunt.
Playdough is good for the hands as is water play - use cold or warm water depending on what works best for you.
The garden is great. Create a safe space which is easily manageable for you to maintain. Then let the kids run free Fresh air and a variety of outdoor toys and activities - sandpit, garden toys, water painting or chalk drawing on the path/fence, obstacle courses, ball games, the list goes on.
My youngest used to love being outside and I just bought him one of those waterproof suits so he’s out there as soon as it stops raining.
Tiredness Is The Enemy
I find fatigue one of the hardest symptoms to deal with, both with arthritis in general and while parenting. Looking after little ones is exhausting itself but add a chronic illness on top of that, it is pretty tough.
‘Mum guilt’ on bad days makes you feel even worse! Your kids can ask you to go to the park but you just aren't well enough to take them - it breaks your heart to deny them something so 'normal'. The key is to not beat yourself up about it. Kids find fun in so many things so be sure to find a way to keep them entertained in the best way you can when you’re having a tough day.
Don’t Try To Be A Masterchef
Buying frozen veg is now seen to be just as healthy as buying fresh and they are already peeled and cut up for you!
An electric can opener is a lifesaver. I also have a perching stool which is useful when I am sat preparing food in the kitchen or washing the pots.
Ordering your shopping online is a must - especially before the kids go to school because it can give you a little time to get some much-needed exercise like a nice slow wander by yourself!
You. Are. A. Good. Parent
My parents, friends and blog followers are great and they see the sorts of things I do with my boys. I am a qualified nursery nurse and worked with children aged 0 - 6 for 9 years before having my kids.
People who don't know anyone with arthritis, or associate the condition with the elderly, often have no real idea of how we live and what we do to manage as normally as we possibly can each day.
People hear the word disabled and think that it means you either can't physically or wouldn't cope with, a child and that is just not the case.
Educate Children and Grandchildren about Arthritis
The way to raise awareness and acceptance is in the hands of the next generation and I think it is great for children to be made aware of these conditions and what they mean for someone who has them.
My boys have grown up with me having both arthritis (which I was diagnosed with at 15 months of age) as well as Crohn's Disease and an ileostomy. They aren't freaked out by anything, they like being involved in discussions about choices I have to make for my health when appropriate. I feel they are so much more empathetic because of it.
Find a support network
That doesn't mean people have to have a massive family or large group of friends either, but two or three people you know that you can really count on for play dates, school runs, emergency shop dash for teabags sort of thing!