I am a parent of three children, and all three have Crohn’s disease. My oldest was diagnosed in 2010 and my younger two were both diagnosed at the same time, in 2013. As a parent of one child, let alone three children with IBD, I found life overwhelming, stressful, and mentally and physically draining. Personally, I have found self-care to be a critical piece in coping with the initial diagnosis and the on-going treatment and care of my children. I will be the first to admit I struggle with self-care at times, but at least I have a list:

  1. Take time for yourself, by planning something fun daily. I love massages, pedicures, reading a book, journaling, meeting up with friends or family. The sky's the limit—the key word is FUN!

  2. Exercise daily or in some cases twice a day. When my stress is high, exercising 1-2 times a day helped me clear my mind and reboot my neurochemistry. And we all know that daily exercise is best for us just to stay healthy.

  3. Eat Healthy. I found the best thing to do was to plan my meals ahead. This became very tough at times, because each of my kids have different trigger foods! We would literally have a Crohn's buffet! However, making sure I have good nutrition, and am taking vitamins and minerals helps to combat stress. 

  4. Seek therapy for yourself and learn to use Mindfulness Meditation. I wish I would have done this first! I thought I was handling everything like a champion, but it snuck up on me. Seeing your own child very ill and finding out it is a chronic illness is very traumatic. Seeking therapy can help you better maneuver the IBD journey. I personally strongly suggest learning and utilizing mindfulness meditation. I have found this to be extremely helpful, especially when one of my kids is having IBD issues.

  5. Join a support or advocacy group with other parents of children with IBD. Trust me this is totally out of the norm for me. However, it ended up being an important step. I began by being a part of our local Children's Mercy IBD Patient Family Advisory Council (PFAC) and now I’m part of ICN. Friends try to understand and help, but other parents of children with IBD truly understand what you are going through. Being a part of a group of parents advocating for Improved Care takes a bad situation and allows you to feel like you are helping not just your own child but other children with IBD as well. Being a part of the ICN network as well as my local PFAC has helped me. If you don’t have local options, consider joining an online community like Smart Patients to connect with other parents and caregivers.

  6. Focus on your Family. I found myself focusing on the disease, when I should have been focusing on family things. Truly, take time to enjoy the healthy times, and find things to do together during the not-so-healthy times. Also, spending quality time with my husband was very important. We were dealing with IBD in different ways and it was important to open up those lines of communication. Try to keep things as “normal” as possible.

What's on your self-care list? Post a comment.


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