Managing Being a Parent with MS

By Emily Gordon

Being a parent with or without a chronic illness is challenging. When you add in the constant worrying about staying healthy for your family, it can be even more challenging. As a new mother to a little girl, I find myself wondering how to keep everything in order. Laundry piles up, bottles need to be washed, dinner needs to be made, and sometimes I feel as though there is just not enough time in the day to get it all done.

I am not an expert on time management, but I have found a couple things that tend to keep me organized, less stressed and keep me on track with running my family’s household.

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Work Smarter, Not Harder.

A picture quote by Michael Altshuler illustrating how you can work smarter that reads ‘[The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.]’

The term “Time Management” is an oxymoron, if you really think about it. The truth is, time cannot be managed. Time marches on its own schedule and the clock continues to tick.  Time is out of our control, but we are in control of what to do with our time. If you need to cross things off your to-do list, it’s important to prioritize tasks and divide your time between different activities. The key to greater productivity and performance is to work smarter and not harder. But the question is, how do we work smarter and not harder?

Prioritize. If you find you’ve bitten off more than you can chew with your to-do list, it’s important to prioritize your tasks based off urgency and importance. Focus on the urgent tasks first and set aside the non urgent tasks to do later. Delegate and divide your tasks!

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Tailgate Pizza Crackers

It is hard to believe it is September and the start of football season.  This fun recipe is perfect to share with family and friends while watching the game.  There are only 4 ingredients required in this recipe and can be enjoyed as a snack or a simple lunch:

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Tick Tock.. Tick Tock..

Time stops for no one. We often do not realize how fast the clock is ticking. But soon days turn to months and months to years and valuable time is long gone by. It is important that we use time wisely and set our priorities right. Here are some tips on how to accomplish your work and use time in the most effective way:

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I’ll do it tomorrow, maybe  

Scrabble tiles spelling out Why Not Now as a tip to combat procrastination

Whoever said procrastination is the thief of time was not joking. It takes much longer to delay a task than it does to buckle down and complete it. But why do we procrastinate if we know that it is probably a bad idea?

Being productive is not only a matter of planning our day. Being productive means setting that plan into motion. Too often, I have waited to complete a task and chosen to tell myself tomorrow will be a better time to start. Even in writing this blog, I experienced procrastination. I told myself, “Tomorrow I’ll have a better idea, tomorrow I’ll be more inspired,” because tomorrow always seems to be a better time until it isn’t.

Most of us consider procrastination to be a problem that stems from lack of planning, poor time management, or even laziness, but procrastination is much more than that. Although there are many contributing factors, such as lack of motivation, research shows that we tend to delay or postpone doing tasks that we perceive as unpleasant.

Joseph Ferrari, professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago, identified three basic types of procrastinators, each with different motives:

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DIY: Do-It-Yourself Fundraisers are Integral to Supporting MSAA Programs

DIY Do-It-Yourself Fundraiser icon for MSAA occasions, including a sneaker, bicycle, swimmer, and video game controller icons as ideas for fundraising

As summer is winding down, we reflect on the fun we had with family and friends relaxing and trying to stay cool – backyard barbeques, trips to the beach, ice cream cones, and time spent poolside. But for individuals living with MS, staying cool during the summer can be a challenge. That is why the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America provides free cooling vests and accessories to qualified individuals with MS, throughout the summer and all year long. 

As you can imagine, symptom-management products such as cooling vests come at a significant cost. MSAA relies on a community of supporters stepping up to make a difference. Our DIY fundraising platform makes it easy for anyone to set up an MSAA donation page for their fundraising event or campaign. 

In fact, setting up his fundraising page was the easiest thing Richard Core did all summer, who raised $6,000 for MSAA with his Richard’s Ride Across America. 

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Caramel Apple Bites

This fun dessert is perfect for the Fall.  They’re so easy to make and are loved in my household. I like being outside during the cooler Autumn weather and love to share these yummy little treats with friends and family in my neighborhood.  You could really get creative and add your favorite toppings as well, such as drizzled chocolate, sprinkles or even put on top of a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients

  • 2 Green Apples
  • Lemon juice to keep apples from turning brown
  • 1 pkg Mini Pretzel Twists
  • 1 pkg Rolo candy
  • Toothpicks
  • Baking sheet

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. On a baking sheet, lay out pretzels in a single layer and place a Rolo candy on each pretzel.
  3. Place in the oven for about 3 minutes, or until the candy is soft but not melted.
  4. Chop the apple in small chunks. Squeeze a little lemon juice on them if you would like to help keep them from turning brown.
  5. Place one apple on the end of a toothpick and push into one of the Rolo Pretzels. Repeat until all the Rolo pretzels have apples.

Enjoy!!!

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Unwind & De-stress

It is without a doubt that today’s fast-paced world can be stressful. Between balancing work, family and social obligations, it can be hard to set aside time for yourself. By learning how to relax, you can soothe your body and mind, heal from your daily dose of stress and devote some much-needed time for yourself. Luckily, when it comes to strategies to relax, the easier the better! Setting aside 10 minutes of your day is all you need to calm your mind and body.  Here are a few relaxation strategies that may be helpful.

Breathe. Breathing techniques are one of the simplest, yet most effective ways to relax immediately. And the best part… this strategy can be done anywhere!  All you need to do is take a deep breath in and slowly breath out and repeat steadily for 5 minutes. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing and feel the tension release from your body.

Connect with nature. Spending just a few minutes outside is all you need to disconnect when you feel stressed. Go for a short walk, or simply sit outside. You don’t necessarily even have to be outside either; listening to nature sounds or looking at scenic pictures can help you relax.

Write down your thoughts. Journaling offers an abundance of benefits – from reducing stress to sparking self-discovery. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, jotting down your thoughts can help release these emotions, while also recognizing how you feel.

Plug in music and zone out. It’s no secret that listening to our favorite song is an instant mood boost. I find music as an outlet; a way to take my mind elsewhere and de-compress. Listening to soothing music can help quiet the mind, but choose whatever may bring you joy and relaxation.

Take charge and control your stress by learning how to soothe your mind, body and soul. We can’t control environmental factors, but we can control how we react to them.

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Zone out

In today ‘s fast paced and ever changing world, we are so focused on securing our place in the rat race that we forget to focus on the most important thing which is ourselves. It is so vital that we set time apart for ourselves to engage in pursuits that add value to life. I am sharing some tested and tried strategies that have worked for me:

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Relax, you got this.

Relaxing is easier said than done sometimes. Whether it be work, school, parenting, pets, health concerns, or finances, sometimes daily tasks are simply overwhelming. Stress can be triggered by internal factors such as negative self-talk or external factors like major life events or daily hassles. Here are some helpful strategies to help us relax when we are feeling stressed and need to soothe our mind and body.

Change your negative self-talk to positive or neutral.

We are often our own worst critics. Negative self-talk is that critical inner dialogue that devalues us or puts us down and limits our potential. It may sound like “I can’t do anything right” or “my body is weak; I’m never going to get better.” Negative self-talk promotes feelings of helplessness and stress. These are cognitive distortions, persistent thoughts that aren’t grounded in facts or reality.

This harsh form of self-criticism can be managed. Practice recognizing these thoughts, acknowledge them when they arise, and take your power back. Try stopping those thoughts by saying “stop” to yourself, remind yourself that these thoughts are not facts, and replace them with a positive or neutral thought. For example, instead of telling yourself “I’m useless and it won’t get better,” try reframing your thoughts to say something positive like “I am having a difficult time right now, but I have dealt with similar challenges before, and I can handle this too.” Reframing those thoughts doesn’t mean lying or relying on false positivity. If you can’t think of a positive way to rephrase it, try something neutral like “It’s not going great, but I’ll handle it.” Identifying these thoughts and reframing them takes practice. The first step is becoming self-aware and understanding that there is a difference between your feelings and reality. If you have a difficult time recognizing these negative thoughts, ask yourself, would you be this negative and critical of a loved one if this was happening to them instead?

Massage Therapy

Massages are a great way of relaxing tense muscles, relieving pain, and reducing stress. It involves the manipulation of soft tissue, including muscles and tendons, to promote relaxation, pain relief, and improved circulation. Getting a massage with a professional massage therapist can be expensive, but luckily, self-massage can also give us some of the same benefits.

You may use your hands or tools to knead your skin and apply pressure to tense muscles. Rub massage oil or lotion on your hands and massage your shoulders, neck, head, and body. Focus on the areas where you feel tension and discomfort. You may use the palms of your hands to massage in circles and apply more pressure with your fingertips. Be mindful of the amount of pressure you are applying to avoid injuries. You may use specifically designed massage tools like electric neck and shoulder massagers and foam rollers, or you may use a tennis ball or other objects to help get those hard-to-reach areas in your back by placing them on the wall and using your back to roll the object.

Professional massage therapy can be effective for people affected by MS who are experiencing pain, but it may exacerbate symptoms for some individuals. MS can be unpredictable and affect individuals differently. It is important to consult with your healthcare provider before engaging in complementary therapy and seek a professional therapist who is trained and can accommodate your specific health needs, such as sensitivity to heat, bladder concerns, and mobility issues. You may visit the American Massage Therapy Association for assistance in locating a qualified massage therapist and information about your state’s licensing regulations.

Next time you are feeling overwhelmed, try these techniques to help soothe your body and mind. We might not have complete control over external factors, but we can control how we treat ourselves.

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