Parenthood With Diabetes
Diabetes is a challenging illness with so many complications that affect the entire body. Managing diabetes on your own can be overwhelming. What if you also have a family to take care of in addition to your health?
Parenting when you have diabetes
Diabetes management can be very challenging when caring for your spouse and children simultaneously. I am a wife and mother of 3 young children (1 with special needs). Keeping up with my responsibilities of managing my household can be exhausting and highly demanding.
It isn't easy...
Despite this, there are ways to make parenting with diabetes go a little more smoothly.
Teach your kids about your diabetes
Communication is essential! Ensure your children know about diabetes, the symptoms, and how to recognize them. Create a plan for what to do in case of medical emergencies and teach them the emergency phone numbers.
Never be afraid to let your children know when you have rough days. We can interact with our children much better if we communicate openly with them.1
Make household routines simple and achievable
Creating a routine for your household can help everyone get through the day peacefully. Both you and your children will know the expectations so that you don't feel overwhelmed.
Delegate household chores
Some people with diabetes find that extreme physical activities increase their blood sugar levels. People with diabetes can also experience a blood sugar low if they don't eat or properly hydrate.
If that happens, you must take care of yourself right away! Let your children handle specific tasks within their ability and leave the more demanding tasks for when you feel better. Spend this time recharging until you can complete your tasks for the day.
Plan ahead to limit stress
Stress raises blood sugar levels, so don't overwork yourself. Plan ahead! Create daily to-do lists—schedule specific days for cleaning and errands. Take advantage of weekly meal preparation to make meal preparation easier.
Clearly define behavioral expectations
Set clear expectations with your children regarding the behavior you wish to see and the appropriate consequences your children will experience if they choose not to follow the rules.
Anticipate "sick" days
There is no time off for parenting or for managing a chronic illness. Chronic illness means sick days are inevitable, and when they do occur, you'll want to make the day as comfortable as possible.
Create a sick day basket filled with toys, books, board games, and arts and crafts the kids can do themselves or watch movies. Older children can prepare their own meals and watch the younger ones while you rest.
Ask for help
For support, Dr. Claire McCarthy from Harvard Health Publishing suggests reaching out to your community for help. A family member or friend can provide support, or you can discuss it with your pediatrician to get a referral for a social worker or mental health provider or seek support from your faith community or other organizations, such as diabetes support groups.2
Learn how to delegate complex tasks to your older children, spouse, family member, or friend. If you live alone and can afford it, hire someone to run errands or assist with house cleaning. Take advantage of playdates or swap babysitting on days when you have doctor's appointments.
Take some time for yourself
In addition to eating, resting, and taking your medicine, spend a little bit of time each day doing what you love. Whatever fills your cup, be it exercise, reading, praying, or crafting, do it!
Being a parent with diabetes can be challenging. However, a solid plan and communication can keep your blood sugar levels optimal and your sanity intact.
To me, parenthood is one of the most rewarding endeavors in life, so please do not let diabetes stop you from experiencing the joys of it.
How often do you or someone else examine your feet?