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A Tricky Parenting Secret

Do you want to know a tricky wee parenting secret? After three years of being a mama with a chronic illness, it’s just dawned on me…A Tricky Parenting Secret

It doesn’t take as much as you think to make a nice day for your kids.

Take a day recently as an example, I’m exhausted and my pain levels have been creeping up thanks to the baby waking up to six times a night. We went to church (with a baby and a three year old, it’s not so peaceful anymore) got frustrated with Nu not being quiet. We’re not crazy, we know he can’t sit quietly for just over an hour. But not yelling would be great.

Back at home, he was frustrating us, we were feeling cabin fever but also the weight of the incomplete housework (sorry our bathroom gets cleaned fortnightly now eek). Baby wasn’t playing ball with the napping. I was so tired I felt sick.

But we decided to go out. I wanted to be tired and sore out, instead of tired and sore at home. So we bundled into the car, drove half an hour, of which the baby slept 25 minutes (he’s a chronic catnapper) and visited a nice beach with a park. Parking was difficult, we got a 30 minute park, unbundled and faced the cold but beautiful scene. Nu happily rode his scooter up and down the beach, baby watched. On the way home we stopped for chocolate sundaes at a special chocolate cafe.

Nu was difficult to keep occupied as we waited for our order. He was loud on the drive home.

But at the end of the day, as I remembered how frustrating it was to wrangle Nu and the overtired baby and my own issues. While admitting I had a nice time. Nu remembered a great day. He had fun. He remembered the scooter, the birds, the swing, the chocolate sundaes. And our photos look so great.

All it took was a park and a treat. And I managed to give that to him (granted, with Husband’s help) despite pain levels of 5/10 and fatigue levels up the whop.

It is a timely reminder as I worry about my lack of energy and time. As I worry that I don’t have enough to split between two kids. But I do. I continually find reserves I didn’t know I had, for their sakes. And my little efforts to keep Nu occupied pay off.

On days where we’re housebound by baby and pain levels, Nu is just as happy to bake (he loves to stir!) and colour, an ride his digger (as long as I’m watching!) and snuggle while watching a movie.

So now my definition of a successful day is when I ask Nu, “did you have a nice day?” And he responds with an emphatic yes!

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Nu loved his chocolate sundae!
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Coping with a Toddler (Fibro or not!)

This post has been a long time coming. I haven’t felt like I was coping these past few months. But we’re here, so that’s winning.

Toddlers seem to have an abundance of energy that I could only dream of. If only Nu would lend me some, maybe it would be easier.

21 tips for coping with a toddler fibromyalgia or not

The big thing for me (on the days I’m not working) is to get him active in the morning, when I’m most able and he’s not so tired either. This way the afternoon can be a more relaxed affair.

I am slowly learning that I’ll never feel like I’m coping if I’m putting too much of my energy elsewhere (like work), so my balance needs to be kept in check.

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Drawing & stickers

Here’s a few tips I’ve gleaned in dealing with a toddler:

  1. Accept help – my husband takes a turn in the morning when he’s not at work, I never get back to sleep, but it’s a break. If grandparents want a visit, give them the toddler and run away!
  2. Enjoy them – this may be the sweetest age, Nu says things like “want some mama hug”.
  3. Play dough, stickers, colouring in to keep them occupied for 10 minutes.
  4. Outside – even checking the mail and watering the garden can seem exciting.
  5. Park – even if you need to drive there, the park is a great and free way to burn off toddler energy.
  6. Routine – my son is a routine boy and we have a loose but similar routine for each night, this helped when bedtime got foggy at the sleep regression.
  7. Setting -first thing, before I get him up, I set up some of his toys seductively. This may buy 10 minutes of independent play! I also swap toys around regularly.
  8. Rest when the toddler rests (if you’re home with them) – on the days I’m home I will do Yoga Nidra before anything else when he naps.
  9. Library, zoo, beach, local attractions – there are options for all energy ranges. Nu loves animals, so we’ve been to the zoo a few times.
  10. Read – when you’re super exhausted and sore, lie or sit down (surrounded by cushions if need be) and read all of their books.
  11. Movies – my guy won’t sit through anything longer than a minute, but if this diversion works for your kids then lie down immediately!
  12. Play dates – another energetic creature can occupy yours! Mamas can chat. Win-win.
  13. Pick your battles. Save your energy for the ones that count.
  14. Consistency, set boundaries and always stick to them.
  15. Don’t forget yourself, keep experimenting and keep practicing your wellness techniques. 

The last few are the result of a thread on my Facebook page, some amazing fibro mamas gave me some advice:

17. Educational games on a tablet – lie down and rest while they sit with you and play.
18. Have a bath together – get some toys or bath paints and let them play while you enjoy the warmth on your muscles.
19. Create a toddler-proof room that you can let them free and self-direct their play, sit back and enjoy their gorgeousness (do you do that? I’ve been known to stare at my boy and just grin lol)
20. Don’t always tidy up. The toys will be back out! Sometimes let the laundry and dishes be.
21. Take time out. Go for a coffee alone. Or a massage. Or a walk. Just go!PhotoGrid_1453879893082

Mostly I think having a toddler is a bit like a newborn, in that you might need to just put your head down and push through, however there are definitely more tools in the arsenal to keep them occupied now.

Have you got anything to add to the list?


definitive edition pregnancy and fibroThis post appears in my book Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia along with everything I have learnt and experienced over two pregnancies.

 

 

 

 

 

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2014, Some Resolutions & Thank You

2014 has been an amazing year of truly terrifying highs and some dips.

On paper, it sounds like a magical year – in practice, with the fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, it’s been tough.

The sort of tough that pays off.

I married the love of my life, met the joy of my life (my baby), made huge strides in my lifelong journey of self discovery, progressed in my career (amazingly) and made some (mostly mental) breakthroughs with my health.

There were some spectacularly hard moments, but man have I been happy.

As I look forward to 2015 and make a list of hopes and dreams I have been reflecting on everything in my life. I have been seeing the silver linings and taking the time to appreciate them.

My hope for 2015 is that I continue to grow, love and strive to succeed.
My goals are:
*to learn something
*to keep experimenting with my health
*to enjoy my husband and baby
*to arrange my business/work so that I maintain my work/life balance and have enough energy to be the mama I want to be

Pretty simple!

I also hope to keep writing this blog, I hope it helps people. My little dream is to produce an ebook of tips and encouragements for mamas journeying with fibro/chronic fatigue/related illness.

Thank you for reading. Thank you to everyone who shared comments. It’s so nice to connect with others who are in the fight.

Melissa x

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Tips to Cope With School Aged Kids When You Can’t Match Their Energy Levels

For two weeks before Christmas, I looked after two school aged kids, in addition to my baby. I found it very hard going. The amount of energy they needed just couldn’t be matched.

Having been on the go from 7-8 daily with at least one wake up with the baby in the night for two weeks, I am beyond exhausted.

How to Cope with school aged kids when you don't have the energy to match

I have formulated some tips for coping with school aged kids:

  • The park – find a fenced park, take a coffee, sit and watch them play themselves out.
  • If it’s too wet for the park, go to an indoor playground.
  • Morning activity, afternoon DVD. And while they watch, you sit and watch or just relax with the heat pack.
  • Have pre prepared activities. I found word finds and a science quiz at the Science Kids website.
  • Have them start a journal of what they have been up to. One of the kids really took to that idea and spent hours slaving over his book!
  • Utilise the points system. These kids earned points (and lost them) and the points equaled a minute on their tablet. There were some tears when one kid lost tablet time one afternoon and the other had his, but he learnt!
  • Which leads to the last point, be firm and consistent. They remember, even if our fogged brain can’t!
Oh, and try to enjoy them and find their good points!
If you’re only babysitting for a time, like me, know it will end soon. If they’re yours, know they’ll grow out of the difficult faze eventually.
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