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.

Planning meals ahead of time

 We have all heard the age-old term “meal prep.” I tend to take it a step further. I have noticed that planning out not only dinner, but also breakfast, lunch and snacks is extremely helpful. Make the coffee the night before, so all you must do is press the “on” button. Little things like this may seem like they won’t make a big difference but let me tell you, they certainly do.

Reminders…EVERYWHERE

I have had MS since I was 23. One of the biggest challenges my MS has given me is remembering things. Remembering when I last gave my daughter a bottle, when her diaper was last changed, or how many ounces I fed her was one of the most difficult things about being a new mom. To remedy this, I made lists and wrote down just about everything I did, so when my husband would ask me when she ate last, I wouldn’t have to pause and reply with a big “uhm.” 

Ask for help

This is a real struggle for me and most of us with MS. When you have a disease that can impact not only you, but your family as well, you never want to seem like a burden. I get it. I have been there. I can’t recall how many times my husband has said to me “why don’t you just ask for help?” and the answer is I simply don’t want to inconvenience him. Doing everyday tasks like folding laundry, cleaning and even something as simple as chopping an onion is a daunting task for someone with MS.

When my daughter was first born, I was set on doing just about everything for her, as any mother is. At this time, formula was extremely hard to come by and we had one container left. I was just coming off a small relapse due to being pregnant and not being on any disease-modifying treatment. My hands were not working, as much as I stubbornly would like to say they worked just fine, they didn’t. I was making a bottle and dropped our last container of formula all over the kitchen floor. It was a reality check, indeed! You’re not a burden. You just need a little help every now and then, and that is okay.

Take time for self-care

This rings true for everyone, especially someone fighting MS. New mom, or not, you need to take time to center yourself. A few things I prioritize for helping my disease are daily movement, and this could be just about anything. I personally love yoga and try to do it at least 4 times a week. I meditate when I wake up and eat healthy, non-inflammatory foods. Keeping your health top of mind is extremely important.

Getting an MS diagnosis is a life-altering thing. It is a daily struggle. It is tough but remember that you are tougher. Your MS does not define who you are. You will learn to adapt your life and conquer just about anything you set out to do, even if you need to write it down on a sticky note to remind yourself. You got this!

About Emily

Manager of Community Engagement at the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA). I am a longtime MS advocate, college football enthusiast, and a lover of 90’s sitcoms.

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