Being a mama is hard enough on it’s own (especially to a three year old – if you have one, you know what I mean), but being a mama with a chronic illness can sometimes feel impossible. Don’t get me wrong, I love Aeneas more than anything in this world. I also want more children (four to be exact). Yet, I recognize that I have days where doing everything that Aeneas wants to do is not possible. I get immense mommy guilt those days.
I’ve come to the conclusion, that to be the best mama, I have to sometimes let go of all the things I *think* I need to be, and just be present. No, the dishes won’t always be done immediately. The living room floor won’t always be free of toys. Sometimes, all I will be able to do is sit on the couch and read books with Aeneas.
THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS. You don’t have to be the perfect mama you see in movies and tv shows. It’s taken me awhile to realize that the most important thing, for me, is to be present when I’m with Aeneas. That’s what he’ll remember. Not a clean house, or floor, but those moments. Those moments where he felt safe, happy, and most importantly LOVED.
Here are some things that make my life a little easier on days when I just can’t do much because of my RA.
- Prep meals on Sundays. This way, throughout the week, all I have to do is quickly cook the meal. (Especially when using my Instant Pot! The Instant Pot is a pressure cooker/slow cooker all in one! It makes creating a healthy meal so much easier (and quicker!) than usual. It’s one of my go-to pieces in my kitchen, and I highly recommend getting one like this (Amazon affiliate link):
Some of my favorite recipes using it are:
The Perfect Rice Every Time – Instant Pot
No-Rice Cauliflower Rice – IP Foodie
Hard Boiled Eggs – The Prairie Homestead
Sirloin Tips in Gravy – Pressure Cooking Today
- Going to bed EARLY. I try to be in bed by 8:30pm at the latest. The more sleep I get, the better I feel, and the more I’m able to do.
- Making sure I get in exercise. This doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym. I try to get in at least 9,000 steps per day. I’m working on adding some cardio (via those awesome Shawn T workouts) 3 times a week too. I feel better, and sleep better, when I’ve had some physical activity throughout the day. On days when I’m home with Aeneas, this is done by walking to our small town’s downtown area, and then going to the stores that he loves to look in (i.e. the Toy store, Candy store, Book Store, and of course, Starbucks for me).
- Drinking a TON of water (or iced tea). I shoot for at least 120oz of water or iced tea a day. I know, I pee all. the. time. However, I feel so much better when I drink that much water.
- Taking a nap, or resting. If I’m starting to feel like I’ve been overdoing it, I try to take a nap when Aeneas does (he’s starting to give up naps though, and I feel like crying), or resting on the couch while Aeneas plays with his legos, or a sundry of other toys he has. It’s not always possible, and when I’m not able to, I definitely pay for it in the days to come, but resting, even for 20-30 min a day, helps me keep those serious flares away.
Not all of these things are possible all the time, nor easy to do. I’m in pain more often then I like letting on, and that’s the struggle those of us with chronic illnesses have. Although it may look like we’re doing great, under the surface we may be struggling just to keep going. Just remember, you need to take care of yourself before you can really take care of anyone else. It’s ok to take a break, rest, and let your little one know that even though you can’t carry them on your shoulders all over the house, you still love them, and can play with them while sitting on the couch. YOU ARE A GOOD MAMA.