Hey IBD mamas and moms-to-be—this article is for you! I wanted to share 5 of my "life hacks" for taking on motherhood while living with IBD.
As a mom of a 2-year-old and an almost 4-month-old, I'm in the thick of motherhood right now. While it's an amazing season of life, it definitely has its challenges. A toddler, a baby, and a chronic illness. Ah, I'm exhausted just reading that myself! While it's far from easy, I've found some ways to help embrace the ups and downs and everything in between.
Here are my 5 helpful tips for IBD moms:
1. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
By verbalizing your pain and communicating openly with family and friends, you open yourself up to a network of support. Don't try and be a martyr or a superhero. In the end, the only person you are hurting is yourself. A few hours to yourself will do wonders for your psyche, you'll feel rejuvenated and refreshed and you'll be a better mom because of it.
2. Stay on top of daily disease maintenance: your medication, your doctor appointments, blood tests, and annual scopes.
Moms have a reputation for putting themselves on the bottom of the totem pole. When it comes to chronic illness, a lapse in taking medication and managing your illness can set you up for a flare-up. No one wants to be hospitalized or deal with pain. Give yourself the best chance for having feel-good days and make your disease management a priority. If you feel symptoms presenting and you're concerned, alert your GI immediately. Be proactive, nip each flare in the bud as best you can.
3. Busy boxes for the win!
Once you have a toddler—or more than one child, these are lifesavers! Look up ideas on Pinterest and create boxes to keep your little one busy when your fatigue is overwhelming or when you're in a lot of pain. I went to Hobby Lobby, Michael's and Target and created fun boxes for Reid—filled with everything from puzzles to coloring books to sensory activities with noodles. I made a busy box for each day of the week. You can do so very economically!
4. Practice self-care as often as possible.
Yes, I know. Self-care. We hear it all the time. It's something that's constantly talked about, that seems unattainable. But try and do something each day for yourself, whether it's taking a shower, eating a meal sitting down, going for a walk outdoors with your little one and keeping your phone on silent, or reading a book before bed. Try and find the moments in your day when you can unplug and relax. Practice yoga and meditate during nap time instead of doing the dishes or laundry. You owe it to yourself!
5. Give yourself grace.
Motherhood is an incredible experience, but it's not easy. Add chronic illness to the mix and it becomes even more difficult. Don't beat yourself up on the days you aren't feeling well and need to stay indoors and lay low. Stop comparing yourself to the mom who seems to have it all together on social media. We all know we have hot mess moments—that's life. Focus on all the happiness and joy you bring to your little ones life. You are their world. You were given this role and this family because you were meant to have it and you were destined to live this life.
Bonus Tip! Wear your baby. Baby wearing will do wonders for your joints and your wellbeing. Not only does baby love being close to you, it helps give you a bit of a break whether you're out and about or at home.
I commend every woman for their efforts. You are remarkable. You are a warrior. You are a guiding light for your loved ones. And you deserve to be celebrated for all that you do, day in and day out.
A version of this article originally appeared on Lights Camera Crohn's.