6 Tips For Parenting With A Chronic Illness

A Spoonie is a person with a chronic, debilitating, oftentimes invisible illness. There are hundreds of conditions that fall under the Spoonie umbrella, and there are millions (if not billions) of Spoonies all over the world. (read the spoon theory to understand why we call ourselves spoonies).

Whether you’ve been a Spoonie since before you had kids or you’ve recently found yourself trying to explain to them why you can’t do all of the things you used to, things have probably come up that aren’t covered in the regular parenting blogs. If they haven’t yet, they probably will! Here’s a few random tips that might be useful on your own journey parenting without spoons.invisible illness parenting

Tip 1: Indoor Sports.

I’ve been lucky, either my kids just aren’t the active, athletic, into sports kind of kids or they’ve learned to adapt because me being a Spoonie is all they’ve ever known, but either way the end result is I haven’t yet had to utilize my list of indoor sports in my area. Martial arts, gymnastics, basketball, hockey (I’m in Texas, if you want frozen water it has to be inside), fencing, indoor soccer, there are any number of available options. A lot of Spoonies, myself included, have sensitivities to heat and sun, and outdoor sports mean day- and often weekend-long tournaments where you’re schlepping equipment from field to field for hours on end. With indoor sports, you’re most likely air conditioned and any schlepping will be minimal.

Tip 2: Scope out the parks.

Don’t be afraid to use google maps to scan the parks in your area to find the ones that best meet your particular needs. The sky views will show you where the parking is and if there are any handicap spaces, and you may also be able to estimate how much walking you’ll have to do. I like to try to scope out where the bathrooms are in relation to the playground so that I’m not caught off guard. I also look for plenty of shaded areas near where my kids will play so that I can sit and watch them.

parenting with a chronic illness

Tip 3: Be honest with your kids.

Don’t cover for your illness/disability. I think one of the best decisions I made as a Spoonie parent was choosing age-appropriate honesty when it comes to my health issues. In our situation, it works. I never go into gory details about things or tell them what they shouldn’t hear, but if they ask me why we can’t do something right this minute, I’d rather they know it’s because Mommy doesn’t feel good than have them think it’s because Mommy doesn’t want to.

Tip 4: Stop comparing yourself to other parents!

Period, end of story, just don’t do it. Read the parenting blogs all you want (especially mine, please and thank you), but don’t for a second get caught up in The Parenting Wars that are constantly waging on the internet. It’s not worth the spoons. I can guarantee you that whatever blog you’re reading (yes, even mine) doesn’t come anywhere even close to showing you what really goes on in their day-to-day life. I tend to get a little more gory in the details than most, but if I was completely honest with everyone you’d all run away screaming and have nightmares. Everything isn’t all sunshine and roses, I just like to focus on the positive and funny stuff because that’s the type of energy I like to send out. Anyway, my point is that we as Spoonie parents are in a whole different league, let alone ball game, so don’t let yourself feel inadequate based on someone else’s standards. You tackle more every day than most “normie” parents ever do and you’re amazing at it and don’t you ever forget it!

do not compare to other parents

Tip 5: You’re allowed to make yourself a priority.

No really, you are! Parents (mothers especially) are constantly pressured to put everything before themselves. Kids, spouse, job, home, friends, there’s this pressure from outside influences (remember those Parenting Wars you’re forbidden from fighting?) to give and give and give of yourself. But, you cannot pour from an empty cup! The same thing goes for spoons! Make sure you are taking the time to take care of yourself. Do what you need for you to stay as healthy and active as possible.

Tip 6: It’s okay to ask for help.

It takes a village to raise a child and the children of Spoonies especially so! I know not everyone has family close at hand, but it is very important to create for yourself a network of trusted friends and advisers who can and will help you when you need it most. Make sure to nurture the relationship because it goes both ways, and don’t take advantage of someone’s generosity with their time and effort.


Now I know this doesn’t even come close to scratching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the challenges of Spoonie parenting, but I hope there’s something worthwhile. If you’ve got a question or a parenting tip to share, feel free to comment below or send me a message and I can post it for you anonymously! Much love and hugs and spoons to all!

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