How to be a good parent when you’re sick with Lyme disease
By Kristina Manscill
My heart goes out to all the parents out there who must try to heal from Lyme disease, while also raising children.
It can be a depressing journey to try and have the patience and stamina required in parenting, when you can hardly get out of bed and take care of yourself.
In my own battle during the last few years, I’ve learned a few things that have helped me to fight discouragement and feel hope.
1.) Give yourself some credit
First and foremost, you absolutely must practice more self-love and compassion. Your fight is anything but small. In order to have more patience with your children, you must first offer yourself some patience. When you feel guilt or shame enter your mind, quickly dismiss it with something positive. This is crucial for your healing.
When I was finally diagnosed with Lyme–after years of health problems–I found that I had more compassion for myself. For a long time, I had been comparing myself to others and wondering why I couldn’t “pull myself together.”
I associated my self-worth with my health and ability to keep up with the daily demands of life. Once I met others going through similar challenges, I realized I was fighting a hard battle and doing my very best.
2.) Learn to say no
This was huge for me. I used to be the person that would always volunteer for things and give my energy to everyone, only to crash the next day. You have a disease to heal from. It’s okay to make your family and your health #1 priority and say no to everything else for a season. This will enable you to heal more quickly, so that you can be of service to others in the future.
Don’t compare yourself to others and all the things they do. Your health is not the same as theirs. Once I finally became okay with saying no to all the extra things, a great peace came into my life. I could just focus on my health and my kids. Simplify, simplify, simplify!
3.) Fill your bucket every single day
When you have kids, it can be easy to get overwhelmed with the demands of parenting and forget about yourself and the things you need to do to heal, but you can’t give from an empty bucket. When I finally made my Lyme disease treatment my #1 priority, I became a better parent. I started having more energy for my family.
Make sure you are taking your supplements and doing everything possible to get better every single day. You are not just doing it for yourself, you are doing it for your kids. If the things you need to do to get better feel overwhelming to you, start simple. Take baby steps until you feel like you can add more.
4.) Train your thoughts
This is probably the number one factor in lifting my discouragement as a parent with Lyme disease. As part of my healing and recovery, I became a guardian of my thoughts.
Anytime a negative thought entered my mind, I would replace it with something positive. “I’m so tired” turned into “I’m going to find some energy today.” “I feel so sick” turned into “I am healing. My body knows how to heal from this.”
And on the worst of days, I would say “It’s just a bad day, not a bad life. I have so many things to be grateful for.” Your thoughts may seem like such a simple thing, but they have HUGE impact on how you feel and how quickly you recover and heal.
5.) Remember that kids are resilient
Kids are so forgiving and they also adapt well. Remember that even when you are sick, YOU are their parent and YOU are what they need.
I used to think that my kids would be better off with someone who had the health and energy to keep up with them. One day I realized that a lot of love and parenting can happen, even from the couch.
On my sickest days, I may not be able to run outside with them, but I can offer a lot of love and snuggles. I may not be volunteering in their classroom this week, but I have a listening ear.
One of the greatest blessings that has come from limited health, is taking the time to be still and really observe my kids. I’ve noticed things about them and have been able to be there in ways that never would have happened when I was busy running from thing to thing. Being required to “Be still” though illness can also be a huge blessing in disguise in such a busy world.
Instead of focusing on all the things you can’t do, focus on what you can. You have talents and abilities and gifts that your children are blessed by. And a distinct love that only you can offer them.
Kristina Manscill is a mother of four and founder of mothersniche.com where she inspires to find the joy in motherhood. She is passionate about families spending more time together through fun traditions and wholesome activities and is an advocate for Lyme disease awareness.