Rheumatoid Arthritis affects around 0.8% of the UK population. The majority of those affected will be female and most will be diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 50. Given these figures, it is no wonder that the question of how to parent with Rheumatoid Arthritis often comes up.
Here is my quick guide to Parenting with Rheumatoid Arthritis:
Talk to your children
It can be difficult finding the right words to explain to your children why you are no longer able to do the things you used to, but the alternative leaves children confused and worried. Don't make a big deal of it, but find some time to sit down with your child and discuss your diagnosis. Remember to use age appropriate terms and listen to your child's worries and fears. A great way to involve your children is to let them try out your aids - if you have a wheelchair let them sit in it, if you have wrist splints let them try them on. Above all, remind your children that although life has changed, your love for them never will. A visit to the library can be a good source of age appropriate books on disability.
Take advantage of the good days
With Rheumatoid Arthritis you will have good days and bad days. Unfortunately, predicting which day will be which is pretty impossible. Be spontaneous! On a good day, ditch your boring plans and visit the seaside or take a walk.
Forget the cleaning
How would you like your children to remember their childhood? As one filled with cleaning or one filled with play? Save your energy for the important things in life.
Introduce film night
If your children are a bit older then a film night can be a good way of getting a bit of rest. With all of the family sat around the TV, you can put your feet up without feeling guilty. Alternatively take them to the cinema and enjoy a quick 40 winks.
Enlist older children
If you have older children then enroll their help - a helping hand opening jars or turning keys will make life so much easier. Don't feel guilty about it, you'll be teaching them a valuable lesson about compassion and family responsibility.
Don't be afraid to buy arthritis aids
The thought of buying arthritis aids can be scary - somehow making your diagnosis more final. Don't let this put you off, there are some great aids out there which will massively improve your life. A pretty cane, a jar opener for the kitchen or a funky coloured wrist splint will do wonders for your confidence.
Finally, ask for help
Rheumatoid Arthritis is often called the "invisible disease". Often you don't look ill and unless your swelling is particularly bad you may struggle to impress upon friends and family just how difficult everyday tasks can be. It's hard to ask for help, but even something as small as asking a neighbour to help put the rubbish out can be a real achievement. Remember, you didn't ask for this disease.