4 posts tagged “helpful tips”

Discussing your health condition with kids? 5 handy resources

Posted June 12th, 2018 by

With Father’s Day coming up this weekend, parenting is on our minds. Do you talk about your health with your kids, and how do you go about it? Read on to see where to get pointers as a parent living with cancer, a mental health condition or chronic illness.

5 sites or articles to bookmark

Every situation and child is different, but the following resources may come in handy before your heart-to-heart.

  • Wonders & Worries’ Illness Discussion Tips – “Honesty is your best asset,” explains Wonders & Worries, an organization that provides support to children whose parents are facing chronic or serious illnesses. Their detailed guide recommends providing “accurate information that is appropriate for your child’s developmental level related to the illness and its treatment.” For example, say the name of your disease when talking with your child (who’s likely to overhear it eventually) and keep kids (and their school) informed about your current medical status and what it’ll mean for your routine, such as: “Nana will pick you up from school this week.”
  • Michigan Health’s “What Kids of Different Ages Understand” – This article is specifically geared toward parents with cancer, but it has some tips that can be helpful for people with various health conditions. The “Children’s perspectives” section explains what children typically understand at different ages. Babies and toddlers may not comprehend a serious illness like cancer, but can pick up on worries or sadness and changes in routine. School-age children (5-11 years) may have heard untrue information (like “cancer is contagious”) or experience “magical thinking” (e.g. – “Mom’s cancer is because of something I did.”). Tweens and teens may be tempted to turn to “Dr. Google” and get misinformation if you don’t fill them in.
  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s “Talking with Children About Cancer” – This guide offers more information about sharing a cancer diagnosis with your kids. Some of the main takeaways? Take a bit of time to prepare yourself for the discussion but don’t wait too long or follow a script. It’s healthy to acknowledge your own feelings, like: “This is all new to me, too, and I feel worried and sad right now. But we will get through this together, and I will feel better sometime soon.” Also, don’t expect perfection. “There is no ‘perfect’ way to have this conversation. You may burst into tears before saying a word, or snap at your partner for telling your kids to ‘behave,’ or cringe when your son makes light of the whole conversation. Forgive quickly. This is a tough time for everyone.”
  • AACAP’s “Talking to Kids About Mental Illnesses” – The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry says that parents (with or without mental health conditions) can help prevent stigma and stereotypes by discussing these conditions. “When explaining to a child about how a mental illness affects a person, it may be helpful to make a comparison to a physical illness. For example, many people get sick with a cold or the flu, but only a few get really sick with something serious like pneumonia. People who have a cold are usually able to do their normal activities. However, if they get pneumonia, they will have to take medicine and may have to go to the hospital. Similarly, feelings of sadness, anxiety, worry, irritability, or sleep problems are common for most people. However, when these feelings get very strong, last for a long period of time, and begin to interfere with school, work, and relationships, it may be a sign of a mental illness that requires treatment.” PsychCentral and The Mighty also have helpful ideas for informing and supporting kids.
  • PBS Parents’ Kid-Friendly Medical Dictionary – This glossary covers only some health-related lingo (mostly related to illnesses kids might encounter themselves). But it gives a sense of how to explain complex terms to curious kids. “Kids think about their bodies in very visual, literal ways. Therefore, experts recommend parents answer medical questions using age-appropriate, simple, easy-to-visualize terms. Be brief and only tell your child what she needs to know, as too much information may overwhelm her. At the same time, respect your child’s intelligence and try not to dumb ideas down. It is useful to explain both what a condition or illness is and how it’s treated.” You can also look for children’s books that can help explain cancermental health conditions, the human body and more.

On PatientsLikeMe, nearly 17,000 members include “parenting” as an interest on their profile. Join the community today to connect with fellow moms and dads, and log in to explore thousands of forum posts about parenting and topics tagged with “parenting.”

Have you talked about your diagnosis or condition with your kid(s) (or grandkids)? Any pointers or resources to add? Make a comment below or in the forum discussion!

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13 spring cleaning + laundry hacks when you have a health condition

Posted April 5th, 2018 by

Pain, fatigue and other symptoms can make spring cleaning and household chores… stink! We’ve rounded up some tips, tricks and life hacks for cleaning and doing laundry when you have a health condition.

1. Make a plan. Write out your cleaning to-do list (or find a free printable one online) and tackle your top priorities first. Pace yourself, even if it means spreading your chores out over several days or weeks. Think of spring cleaning as spring/summer cleaning – no rush.

2. Set time limits. Chelle Iredale, a writer for The Mighty who’s living with fibromyalgia, knows her cleaning limits: “15 minutes is a good amount of time for me,” she says. “Do what you can in that amount of time, then take a break. Re-evaluate how you’re feeling after each chore so you don’t overdo it.” Try to squeeze in some quick scrubbing or dusting sessions during TV commercial breaks.

3. Become a “no shoe” household. So what, if a few guests grumble? This rule will cut down on dirt. “When it comes to your health, do what’s best for you – not the masses,” Chelle says.

4. Pick products that make cleaning easier. It might be time to retire that ol’ mop and broom, writes Justina Bonilla, another Mighty contributor. Time-saving products like cleaning wipes, disposable dusters and wet mops can work wonders. You can even buy dust mop slippers and microwave steam cleaners these days. Also, shop online for cleaning supplies so you can take stock of your current stash and remember what you need.

5. Make things fun and comfortable. Listen to music. Or a podcast. Or an audio book. Anything that entertains or motivates you will make your cleaning session a little better, Justina says. Also, try to stay as comfy as possible by doing some chores sitting down (such as cleaning the kitchen table or wiping floor boards) and using a padded surface (think: garden kneeling pad or thick yoga mat).

6. Give into the urge to purge. Spring feels like a new beginning, which can make it a little easier to part with old clothes and clutter. Go with it! Less stuff = less work. While you’re at it, ditch some of your baskets and bins where junk mail and unworn shoes pile up.

7. Ask for help. Know someone who loves to clean and declutter? Time to phone a friend! And next time your birthday or the holidays roll around, consider asking for gift cards for a cleaning service or a new gadget (think lightweight or robo-vacuum) that’ll make cleaning easier.

Bonus: 6 laundry shortcuts! The Mighty recently shared a list of 24 laundry hacks for people with chronic illness, and here are a few favorites:

  • Skip the hamper — leave the washing machine lid open and ask everyone in your household to put dirty clothes straight in the washer at the end of the day.
  • Invest in a “grabber” to pick up dirty clothes off the floor.
  • Set a stool or folding/camping chair near the washer/dryer to sit on and help prevent fatigue.
  • Rather than sorting by color, sort into two baskets: one for pants, and the other for tops, socks and underwear — which makes for easier sorting/folding later.
  • If you have closet space, quit folding and hang everything on a hanger.

Got any tried and true tips for tackling chores with a health condition? Join PatientsLikeMe today to connect with others and swap ideas like these!

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