Sunday, March 2, 2014

Spoonie Mom (and Dad!) Survival Guide: Toddler Edition

Raising a toddler is a full time job.  For those of us with a chronic illness, it can be exhausting.  If you're also balancing a full or part time job on top of your parenting duties, it can become overwhelming!  Here are some tips and resources to help you cope.

Make a “Painy (or Rainy) Day” list of fun, relaxing activities you can do at home with your child:

how to get the kids to give you a back massage :)
Free back massage!
  • Read or color together 
  • Play “Simon Says”, “I Spy”, or board games
  • Party! “movie and popcorn”, pajama, tea, ect.!
  • Get a free massage! Give your kids some toy cars, and tell them your back is a race track! works every time ; )
  • "Zoodles Kid Mode" for iPhone, Droid, Mac or PC is a great all-in-one tablet/phone environment for children. They can play educational games, draw, listen to story books, and more; all without being able to access your phone, make purchases, or otherwise "mess up" your phone/tablet.
  • photo credit:
  • More ideas: 40 Ways to Entertain Your Kids While Lying Down!

Make your child feel important and special by letting them help you with age-appropriate work. If they can walk, they can help:

Kids Love to Help!
  • Picking up/organizing toys, books and clothes
  • Using baby wipes or spray bottles filled with water to clean surfaces
  • They can help hand you clean dishes: fill a sink with soapy water and give them a sponge and some plastic dishes. Have them hand you dishes from the dish washer; no more bending over!
  • Laundry: Have them get a step stool and stand in front of the washer. As you sort, hand them what you want to wash, and they can throw it in; my son LOVES this. Less moving for me! Later, have them stand in front of the dryer; hand them the wet clothes and have them "throw" it into the dryer". They can even fold. My 3 year old can fold towels, and even match socks!
  • As your child grows, they will be able to help more. 
  • Be sure to reward them well, with hugs, kisses, thank yous, and special treats!

Explain your condition to your child using simple language

  • Discuss how some things are “invisible”, like pain. Even though you can’t see it, you can feel it. (Other examples: wind, cold, heat) 
  • If you are unable to fulfill a promise due to your condition; apologize, and explain that your condition makes it hard for you to be active.  Make sure they understand that its not their fault.

Safety Tips

Use Mr. Yuck Stickers!
  • Always keep all medications out of reach from your children. My 3 year old son managed to open a "child proof" bottle of Vitamin D "gummi bears". These things are dangerous! They look and taste like candy. Keep them out of sight and reach!
  • Be sure to discuss WHY medication is dangerous, and tell your child to tell you immediately if they see any medication lying around.  

Join a play group

You will not be able to make all of the events and play dates, but you WILL make wonderful friends, gain support and resources.  Joining a group helps stress, and may motivate you to get out of the house.  In addition to having fun, moms groups will give you the opportunity to connect with other adults going through the same things you are.  I have made several wonderful friends on "" and Facebook groups.  You will have resources and help when you need it, from other moms you trust!

Let Go.  <Best funny let it go parody ever.

This tip was in my original "newborn" survival guide, but its true at every age.  Toddlers are messy, disorganized, tornado-like beings.  Your house will be a mess.  You will forget to pay bills, you will run out of milk.  Breathe. Put it in perspective, and Let Go of control! 

A wise woman once told me "I only really gained control when I realized I had none in the first place."

  • Learn diaphramatic breathing
  • Practice mindfulness meditation
  • When you feel overwhelmed, sit down, close your eyes, and breathe.  Chances are, things won't feel so urgent when you get up.

Want to Tweet this? Just copy and paste!: 
Spoonie Parenting Survival Guide: Toddlers! #spoonie #mecfs #chronicpain #fibromyalgia  @parentswithpain

Thanks for reading! 
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Joyful and pain-free days to all! ~PFM

Tags: Fibromyalgia, Spoonie, Lupus, MCTD, UCTD, mother, mom, baby, infant, newborn, survival, anti-inflammatory, flare, PPD, postpartum depression. 


  1. I used a lot of these strategies with my two-year-old son when I was on bedrest for 4 months with my twins. I worried so much about what he was missing out on, when really we were bonding and spending a lot of quality time together.

    1. Gina, thank you so much for commenting! I'm so glad to hear it resonated with you.. makes me feel better about the advice I gave. You're right on about the 'missing out' feelings.. I had the same experience. But my son is doing wonderfully now! I believe having chronic pain creates a special bond between child and parent; they know how much you truly love/need them. Btw, I'm writing a childrens book on CP, ill let u know when its out!

  2. Hi, Elizabeth and thank you so much for this information! The Fibromyalgia community really needs this information. It seems like most information is geared toward the middle aged patient, without regard to the younger patients who are raising young children. I was diagnosed with FM at 17 and had no idea that my symptoms would worsen after giving birth. I was told that I may even feel better while I was pregnant, but I became disabled within 3 years. I struggled through the toddler years but I agree that you form a closer bond with your child by helping them cope and especially by letting them help you.

  3. Great post! Thanks you so much for the share. Keep up the Excellent work, we look forward to reading more from you in the future!
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