By Teri E
As the summer approaches, it’s easy for busy moms to place their health needs second to work commitments and family activities. I recently learned that the average mom only gets 5.5 hours of free time each week – that’s equivalent to only 47 minutes per day! If you are like me, living with a chronic illness, or if you have any other health issue, it might be harder to “do it all.” It’s especially important for all women to take time for themselves and pay careful attention to their own health needs.
I’m a mom, a wife and a full-time school psychologist, but I also live with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system that damages or destroys the protective covering (known as myelin) surrounding the nerves, causing reduced communication between the brain and nerve pathways. Common symptoms include visual problems, overwhelming fatigue, difficulty with balance and coordination, and various levels of impaired mobility. Not every person living with MS feels the same symptoms or has the same experiences – the disease is unique to each individual.
Since being diagnosed with MS in 1999, I’ve learned when to ask for help while balancing work, family and MS symptoms. Down time is important for everyone, especially when you’re a busy mom living with an unpredictable disease like MS. I have learned to set goals for myself to keep on track. Right now my goal is to keep up with my growing son and make sure I’m there to tuck him in at night. When living with a chronic disease, finding the right treatment plan is an important step toward living your best life – and that plan is different for everyone. For a long time after my diagnosis, I was only on one treatment to help manage my MS, and it didn’t end up working for me. I worked closely with my doctor to determine the best treatment plan and I am now on once-daily oral AUBAGIO. Taking that proactive step for myself has helped me manage my MS and balance the other aspects of my busy life with more confidence!
Here are a few quick tips to balance a busy life with a chronic disease…
1. It’s OK to say “no” to certain things, in order to say “yes” to things that matter, like spending time with family
2. Your house doesn’t have to be perfect – it’s ok to ask for help when you need it
3. Make time for yourself – a short walk in the neighborhood or a cup of tea is all it takes to recharge
4. Trust in yourself and what your body is telling you – take it slow if you need to, but realize that you are stronger than you may think
5. Prioritize the things in your life that are important to you
6. Maintain open communication with loved ones, including children, about how you are feeling
7. Don’t be shy to share responsibilities and call on others for help – your family, friends and healthcare providers are there for support