Finding the Balance Between Parenting and Living with Migraine
Parenting, on its own, is one of the most difficult tasks imaginable. Migraine, on its own, is one of the most discomforting medical conditions possible. Having to combine parenting with migraine then seems almost like an impossible mission. ?
For most of us living with migraine, there is always a constant fear of when next the migraine attack will come. When the attack finally comes, it is a painful and debilitating experience that often leaves you unable to function well for days. The thought of even raising a family with this condition is something many migraine warriors are afraid to consider. ?
How can I possibly raise a baby with migraine?
How can I be sure the attacks will not hurt my children?
Will my baby not serve as a trigger for a migraine attack?
What if I am a terrible parent because of my migraine?
My migraine makes me sensitive to noise, is having a baby the smartest decision?
These questions reflect very real concerns but the answers don’t always have to be negative. Having migraine should not be the reason to deny the joys that accompany parenthood! There are certain steps that can be taken to make parenting easier for migraine warriors. Below, we have outlined seven of them in no particular order:
Be open about your migraine
Migraine warriors often try to keep their condition as secret as possible, especially from their kids. This may not be helpful in the long run as your children can be an invaluable ally for managing your condition. ?
You don’t have to go into the details, as that may end up confusing them. Have an open conversation and explain to them in simple, understandable, and relatable terms. For example, you can liken your migraine attack to the pain that they feel when they take ice cream too fast, or like a headache that won’t go away. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for, once they understand your condition, they will know how to behave when the attack starts.
Find reliable support
The importance of having someone to rely on during a migraine attack cannot be emphasized enough. This person can be another family member, a relative, a friend, or a fellow migraine warrior! Start building up your support networks early, so that when the migraine hits, you can quickly place a call, and the person can drop by to help out with the kids!
Engage in calming activities
During a migraine attack, there is usually heightened sensitivity to light, sound, and smell. It, therefore, becomes reasonable to avoid loud and vigorous activities with the children. Engaging your kids in calm and quiet activities like reading, board games, solving puzzles, drawing helps to reduce the noise levels in the environment as much as possible. Plus, these activities can also serve as a distraction while you grab your much-needed rest!
Know your migraine triggers
This probably goes without saying. Knowing what triggers your migraine is vital for every individual experiencing migraine attacks. It becomes all the more necessary when you have to parent. If you have successfully identified some triggers, you can take steps to remove or avoid them as much as possible. This would help to decrease the chances of a migraine attack happening at home when your children are around.
For example, if you suspect that certain foods trigger your attacks, make sure to exclude these items from your weekly grocery shopping. You can also try to identify your sensitivity by testing each food chemical individually, read more on this topic here!
Documenting your migraine experience is another way to streamline your parenting duties and migraine management effectively. For example, if you have an attack, record the time the pain started, the symptoms that preceded the attack, what you think triggered the attack. You should also document the time the attacks stopped, the steps you took to reduce the intensity of the attack. This will give you an idea of how the next attack may go and what you should do.
The good news is that the points outlined above can all be done in the Migraine Buddy app. It is what we do best and what Migraine Buddy has been clearly designed for – to provide a simple yet customizable mobile platform to record and track all aspects of your migraine. We imagine that if you’re reading this, you would already have Migraine Buddy downloaded, but in case you’re new here, you can download the app for free in both App Store and Google Play Store! ?
Doing all of this may seem tedious at the start especially if you have not had a habit of recording your attacks; but in the long run, this will help you set clearer expectations as a parent as well as a migraine warrior when you have more visibility over your migraine. Additionally, these records can also be very helpful in allowing your neurologist to understand what is working and not working for you!
Always be ready
Much like life, migraine likes to take us by surprise even if we have avoided our controllable triggers and taken our preventives. When that happens, we need to make sure that we are prepared to fight the attack with our best reliefs! Keep acute medications with you at all times—the last thing you want is to get a migraine attack while your kids are in the park, and you forgot to bring your medications. ?
If you are at home, ensure you have a room that is available for you to rest in, with blackout curtains to block out any bright lights, and ice packs ready in the refrigerator!
Teach your kids what to do if you have an attack
Similar to the first point mentioned above, it is good to be open about your condition with your children! This way, you can let them know how they can help you feel better when you have a migraine attack.
For instance, you can delegate responsibilities among them (if you have more than one child), one of them can get an ice pack or you, while another gets your medications from the emergency cabinet. If you have older children, they may even be able to help you out with some household chores to relieve your burden! This will not only make it easier for you but also make them feel relevant and important.
We have also put together 3 practical secrets that can make your parenting duties easier to manage along with a life of migraine. Check them out in our MBplus program below:
Migraines are, admittedly, very discomforting, but you do not have to go through the journey alone. Your children can be an essential ally and also a driving force to become a better parent. ?
The one important thing to always remember is that ‘it is not my fault’. We understand that there might be inevitable feelings of guilt, but you shouldn’t ever blame yourself for your migraine attacks. It may be a bad day, but bad days do not last forever, and we hope this little encouragement can help you feel hopeful for the future! ??