Last Updated: December 9, 2021
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Tips for Parenting With MS
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that causes damage to the protective sheath covering the nerve fibers in your central nervous system. This can disrupt your brain’s ability to communicate with your body, leading to symptoms that can significantly impact your quality of life. And it affects women more often than men. Parenting is already a hard job, but parenting with MS raises the stakes considerably higher. You don’t always know what to expect, so your family’s not sure what each day will bring, either. Here are a few tips for moms with MS to make balancing your family, home life, and health a little bit easier.
1. Expect the unexpected.
Multiple sclerosis is known for being unpredictable. Symptoms can vary widely, from double vision, to slurred speech, to fatigue, to balance problems, to muscle spasticity, and more. And for people with relapsing-remitting MS, symptoms can come and go. You might have a period of remission, followed by a relapse, followed by another remission. Meanwhile, people with primary-progressive or secondary-progressive MS have a steadily progressing disease. It’s hard to tell how it’s going to go, so if you can, prepare yourself to be ready for whatever may come your way. Since parenting is also a series of unexpected events, you might already be primed to embrace this mindset.
2. Don’t hide your MS from your children.
It may be tempting to shield your children from the details surrounding your multiple sclerosis. But experts say you should take the opposite approach. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society emphasizes that honest and open communication with your children is vitally important. You don’t have to share every single detail, but you can explain that you have a chronic health condition that sometimes makes it harder for you to carry out certain tasks–and you can do so in a way that’s age-appropriate for your kids. Be sure to reassure them that they can’t “catch” MS from you. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, as well as many other organizations, provides guides for parents to coach them through these discussions with their children. Take advantage of these resources, which can help you navigate tricky conversations.
3. Ask for help from your family.
Once your children understand that you have MS, you can tell them you might need their help from time to time. If they understand how certain symptoms can hamper your ability to do normal activities, like cooking dinner or raking leaves or other household tasks, they can pick up some of the slack–and in many cases, they’ll be excited to pitch in and be given some responsibility. If you want to be a little more systematic, you could take a page from the families who create chore charts, where each child’s responsibilities are clearly listed. You could set up a similar chart for your family that includes an extra column for “If Mom Needs Me…”
10 tips for moms with MS
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