How to find downtime as a parent with autoimmune disease

38173995 - young beautiful woman relaxing in bath with foamParents need downtime. This is especially true if you have an autoimmune disease, although, as you know, this is easier said than done. Finding downtime can get a bit tricky as a parent but it’s not impossible. If you’re strategic, you can find that elusive “me” time, without feeling guilty about it.

Let yourself off the hook

Let’s address the guilt first. Many parents — yes, even those without an autoimmune disease — struggle with feeling guilty about taking downtime. They might think to themselves, “I’ll take a moment once all my work is done.” The problem is, as a parent, the work is never really done. You have to make downtime one of your priorities. But, learning to let yourself off the hook if everything isn’t perfect is an especially important self-care skill for parents with autoimmune disease.

It helps to remember that having time to yourself can actually make you a better parent. Not only does it give you a reprieve, but it can help reduce the flares that come with your autoimmune disease. You will not only feel more refreshed to take on the world as a parent, but your condition will be more manageable. So, your first mission is to let yourself off the hook and make “me” time one of your top priorities.

Get a good look at your schedule

The next thing you need to do is evaluate your schedule. While you can’t always predict when your autoimmune disease will flare up, you can create a general plan of action for the week. Make your schedule as flexible as you can and space things out; don’t cram too much into each day. This will give you more flexibility if you do have a difficult day. When you’re creating your schedule, don’t just think about appointments. If you have younger kids, schedule nap time, playtime, etc. Schedule quiet moments for yourself, even if that’s during nap time. If you need help getting your “me” time in, talk with a loved one and don’t ever be hesitant to ask for help. There’s no shame in it! Be honest with your loved ones about what you need. When you are suffering from an autoimmune disease flare up (and even when you’re not) downtime is important to be able to relax and re-energize.

It’s okay to stay indoors

Getting downtime doesn’t mean you have to make big plans. You may not always feel up to leaving the house. Think about downtime as anything that helps you feel more refreshed and at peace, because that’s what your mind and body need to recoup and help keep the flares at bay. Downtime can be as simple as asking someone to hang out with the kids while you lock yourself in your bedroom to read a book, rest, or listen to soothing music. Or maybe, it means going in the bathroom and enjoying a warm bath. If your house isn’t very sound proof, when you have a sitter, you may want to escape to another room and put on some noise canceling headphones. They can help you find a few minutes of calm.

Be honest about your needs with autoimmune disease

If you have kids that are old enough to understand, let them know how you feel and what your needs are. Be straight-forward with them about needing some alone time to get a reprieve, and how it’s especially important for helping to reduce stress and flares. Explain to them how it can help you feel better. You may find your kids to be understanding of the situation and they may want to help. Use this same honesty with others in your life so they understand what your needs are.

It’s okay (and necessary) to find some downtime as a parent, and of course, this is especially true when dealing with an autoimmune disease. Give yourself a break and allow yourself a few quiet minutes every day to refresh and unwind.


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