Let’s face it, motherhood is hard work. Rewarding, magical, exhausting, sometimes disgusting, stressful, wonderful hard work. Add chronic pain on top of the many challenges of being a mum, and you’ve got more on your plate than the average parent.
Today we’ll be taking some pointers from Carole, a single mum and former nurse. She has lived with chronic back and knee pain since she was involved in a car accident when she was 18, which left her with whiplash. Carole recently shared her story online, and it’s full of pearls of wisdom for others with chronic pain – especially single parents and those who once relished a very active lifestyle.
Carole on Chronic Pain Management
Very early in her pain journey, Carole decided to avoid most medications. She explained:
“Being a nurse and seeing the side effects of Western medicine every day, I preferred to stick with natural remedies. Up to this day, I only take two paracetamol a day in the morning. Other regular medicine makes me feel dopey, high and not able to function properly.”
There are many different, natural approaches one could take to chronic pain management. Yoga, acupuncture, fish oil, increasing your vitamin D… what works for one individual with chronic pain, may not help another. That’s why it’s so important to explore different chronic pain management techniques yourself. Take your own path, and listen carefully to both your body and your health professionals.
Carole has “tried an endless list of chronic pain treatments and remedies throughout the years”. The techniques that have made the biggest positive difference to her pain include topical vitamin D patches aromatherapy and the Bowen technique.
She explained the topical patches further:
“I have been really impressed with To Better Days’ patches. I still have pain in the joint, but the pain when I’m moving has improved amazingly. Since wearing the patches daily, I’ve rarely had a really bad pain that forced me to come back in from a walk.”
5 Tips for Parenting with Chronic Pain
Over the long term, persistent pain can dramatically change your approach to parenting and force you to adapt your approach to bringing up youngsters. Carole noted:
“I had to stop pushing [my daughter in a buggy] pretty early on as she got older and heavier. This meant that at a very young age she had to start walking. The other parents would look at me funny, but being a single mum with chronic pain, I didn’t have a choice.”
A painful condition doesn’t have to negatively affect your ability to parent, but it may push you to innovate and do things a little differently. Inspired by Carole’s story, we wanted to share some of her helpful tips for parenting with chronic pain.
- Shop smart
When you become a parent, you’ll find yourself feverishly ordering all sorts of essential equipment for your youngster. It might feel like there isn’t enough time or money in the world to be adequately prepared! However, if you live with a chronic pain condition, it’s worth doing extra research before you buy key items such as buggies.
Carole explained that “the buggy that I used for [my daughter] had to be very lightweight”. Depending on your needs, you may find that shopping for lighter equipment, items with integrated storage or easy-to-assemble kit will make a big difference to your life as a parent.
- Buy a bumbag
Bumbags have recently had something of a fashion renaissance among Generation Z, but they’re also great for many parents with chronic pain. These helpful stashes allow you to go ‘bag free’. This is especially helpful for parents like Carole who, “can’t bear to stand for a long time and never carry a shoulder bag, as it will give her unbearable pain”.
- Use a pizza cutter
If you experience chronic pain in your wrists or shoulders, kitchen tasks can be very difficult. Pizza cutters are surprisingly versatile, and put less pressure on your body while you chop and cook. They’re especially good for making lunchbox sandwiches.
- Start slow cooking
Making fresh, nutritious meals every night of the weak is tough for any parent, let alone mums and dads who are managing chronic pain. Slow cookers are a godsend in this regard. Simply chuck everything into the pot and let it stew. Double or triple the recipe, then freeze extra portions so you always have quick, healthy meals on hand. Here’s a collection of slow cooker recipes to get you started.
- Get a robot hoover
Cleaning up after kids is a never-ending chore. If you live with a chronic pain condition, the chores are even more painful. Hoovering can be one of the most uncomfortable household tasks, but it doesn’t have to be. Robot hoovers might sound like something from the future, but they’re real, effective and not as expensive as you might expect. And the best bit? No more hoovering up after the kids ever again.
Parenting, Pain and Community
Parenting when you have chronic pain is no walk in the park (sometimes literally). When things feel tough, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Others, like Carole, know what you are going through.
The tips above are just a simple starting point for parents looking to improve their pain management. If you want to learn more, joining a community of parents with chronic pain is a great step to take. Online communities are full of bright ideas and mutual supportiveness, and can be found all over the web. Facebook boasts lots of groups like Parents with Chronic Pain, Chronic Moms and Mommies and Daddies with Chronic Pain, all of which are great opportunities to engage with a community who truly understands what you are going through.