Last Updated on November 7, 2023 by melissanreynolds
The last 18 months has been a whirlwind. I’ve barely coped. When my period returned post-baby number four (when he was 13 months old), it came with a vengeance. I’d obviously had endometriosis for some time but it kicked into overdrive. For the past year my life has been consumed with trying to survive the brutal cycles and somehow raise four small children.
I had a hysterectomy and endometriosis excision surgery at the end of June 2023. And it changed my life.
Now I feel able to return to sharing how I manage, because I actually am managing! Not just trying to survive.
What are my top tips for managing small children and fibromyalgia?
1. Get on top of your symptoms
This isn’t easy but you can’t pour from an empty cup and parenting takes a load of energy.
- Make symptom management plans – do the things that help you!
- Prioritise sleep and rest
- Pick up a nurturing habit such as Yoga Nidra guided meditation, breathwork or other practice that gets you into the parasympathetic state regularly
- Research low dose Naltrexone
- Tackle those other conditions weighing you down
2. Create systems
I’m a big fan of systems. I’ve created many. Since we came home from the hospital with my first child, I’ve found comfort in routines (rhythms rather than strict schedules). Even the three of my children who are not on the autism spectrum do best when they know our routine. It’s easier to get four children through the tricky parts of the day (morning and evening) when there’s a rhythm and it’s repeated most days.
Keep on top of your to do list with a suitable planner. I have a Google calendar that I sync with my husband’s, a family wall calendar and a To Dos journal. You could also create a daily to do list – with a maximum of 3-5 things you’d to achieve and your daily negotiables.
Create cleaning systems.
Get your children to help, according to their age. I created a post about this here.
3. Keep sight of the main goals
Our main job is to love our children and give them the tools to become functioning adults. Give yourself grace in the process. Some days we might be lying on a bed surrounded by books and nursery rhymes. They’ll remember being with you, not that you were hardly able to move.
Say no ruthlessly. They don’t need All The Extracurriculars. I don’t put my preschoolers into activities – but that’s mostly because they don’t function as our social outings. When my first two children were small I was too unwell to schedule things and actually make it to them.
4. Take the help
We’ve all heard the phrase “it takes a village”. And it’s true. Though our villages are somewhat decimated these days. Take the help. Create the help where you can. For example, I have my smallest two children in kindergarten a couple more hours than I work so that I can get some chores done and do my Yoga Nidra guided meditation rest break. It makes all the difference.
If you can’t afford paid help and don’t have any local family members or friends willing to help. You could consider swapping with a friend, you take their child one morning and they take yours another.
I also believe, wholeheartedly, that whether you work or not, your partner should be doing their share after work. After 5pm (or whatever time they get home) it’s a team sport. If you’re a stay at home mum, their eight hours doesn’t make you a 24 hour unpaid worker.
BONUS – Bring Your Kids Onboard
Take the time to explain your condition to your children, in terms they can understand. Get them onboard as a team member. Give them a brief overview of what you experience, what can help and answer any questions they have.
Affiliate notice, please note that some of my links may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase using these links, I may make a commission at no extra cost to you.
Having children and fibromyalgia is an extreme sport
It’s true, it is the hardest job in the world. But it’s also the most rewarding. And we deserve to do what we can to make it easier. I hope these four tips have helped.