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Hand holding cellphone telling her friend that shes okay. Behind the cell phone is a backpack, ballet slippers, and karate gi.

Balancing Parenting and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Normal” parenting life – you know, being a parent without rheumatoid arthritis – is tough enough regardless of how old your children are. The energy relegated to just worrying about them is staggering. Then when you add in the actual time and energy required to be a parent, some days you are ready to throw in the towel before your aching feet ever hit the floor in the morning. Balancing parenting and RA can feel so overwhelming. As a parent of 3 young children, I’ve barely accomplished much more than to merely keep my head above water.

How can we do better at balancing parenting and RA?

Limit extra activities

In part because of my rheumatoid arthritis, my husband and I try to limit our children’s “extra activities” to a reasonable amount. Shuffling kids from activity to activity is difficult under the best of circumstances. And sometimes, no matter how well you think you have it planned, you end up with a day like I had about a month ago that if I’m being honest, nearly killed me.

In ONE day, we had my son’s First Communion and my daughter’s first ballet recital. In addition to the First Communion party (at my house) the following day. Shuffling the kids – hair, makeup, costume, suit, tie, and all back and forth from event “practice” to pictures, and back again – had me dreaming of a very, very, long vacation.

Know this: even with limited activities, things always have a way of blowing up all at the same time. I can’t imagine what life would be like if we gave in and let the kids sign up for every single activity they wanted to do. Limit extra activities so that even when they blow up (which they will inevitably do) you can still sort of manage it.

Have a back-up plan

If you are the type of person who has back-up plans for your back-up plans, then this is your jam. Foster as many positive relationships as you can in your life so that, if needed, you can call in the troops. Ideally, you will have a very reliable someone (or, if you are lucky, several someones) who can swoop in and take over the reins on flare days (weeks or even months).

Often for me, flare days can sneak up when you least expect it. You know the feeling, pretty much as soon as you open your eyes, you just know that it will be a flare day. Have a back-up plan for the day so that the day will still be able to continue on (hopefully with minimal disruption) for your kiddos. I know it takes a great deal of effort to really foster great relationships with those around us but, if you are in need of help, you will be grateful that you did.

Learn to let a few things go

There was a book series that was popular years ago called Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. And I think the author was really onto something, especially for those of us with RA. Know this: even without RA, parenting and life will never be perfect. And that is okay.

For whatever reason, Pinterest or other social media outlets make it seem that we have to give the “picture perfect” childhood to our children. When really, all we really need to do is make sure our children grow up to be loving, responsible, and contributing members of society. I know, we all want the best for our kids, I get it. But sometimes you just need to channel your inner Elsa and just, “Let it goooooo!”

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • 2mra
    6 months ago

    You certainly are right Leanne. Having back-up plans for back-up plans is a must. Making friends to share the child care, etc. Then knowing when to relax whenever possible. Sometimes I’d sneak into the basement to play video games or to take a nap when my hubby was home from work, after supper.

    I was a parent in the ’80’s but gained RA after my first was born. As I mentioned before, I lost some of the joy of having Kids because of the pain and fatigue from RA plus the fatigue from Juvenile Diabetes. Don’t get me wrong, we all still remember the countless laughs and other good times we had, that I am sooo grateful for.

    I am also thankful for my Kids not caring about joining groups(unlike yours) or activities when they were young, even though I encouraged them to join. They seemed to just want to play with their friends in our home or their friends place. Our son did join chess club later, I taught him first and our daughter joined the wrestling club later.

    Also, whenever a new Kid showed up in class our son had to bring them home. Same as our daughter did with the new kids moving into our neighbourhood. I also babysat our friends 3 little ones ’til senior kindergarten each. Plus, I suggested a puppy, bunny and turtle (UGH!). Our place was a crazy house for many years, as yours is sometimes. 😀

    I pushed through the RA which I shouldn’t have sometimes but glad now that I did.

    Family Life isn’t gonna be perfect especially with RA, but planning ahead is a good idea. Enjoy the little ones all you can for far to soon they’ll be off and gone. SHH! Then you can really relax more. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing your life Leanne.

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    6 months ago

    I think it is important to laugh a lot, and laugh a great deal. I think what you describe is good practical advice for all parents, those with RA or not.

    Rick – Moderator

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