5 Tips for Managing Bad Days as a Parent

There is a little bit of difficulty when tackling a topic such as managing bad days when you are a parent. Because in all reality, at the end of the day, it is one of those things that when you are a parent, you just do.

So, at the risk of sounding a bit trite, I’m still going to do my best to offer some insight and suggestions, especially for those parents with RA who are early into their diagnosis and just trying to hold their life together.

5 tips for managing bad days as a parent with RA

I was diagnosed when my children were still quite young (3 children under 5 at the time). With my oldest being 12 now, I officially have a few years of parenting with RA under my belt for a wide range of ages. Not to mention, we homeschool, so while some days I wish I could just chuck them at the big, yellow bus heading down the street and head back to bed, I don’t. Here are a few alternatives.

1. Stash away some 'bored boxes'

Never underestimate the value of new things or things that have been hidden away for a while for kids. I keep 2 bins hidden away in my basement that I save to rotate out on days when I’m especially struggling. I squirrel away little items throughout the year that they won’t miss at the time. These don’t have to be big or especially exciting, but the simple novelty of something different can buy you hours of entertained bliss.

Some of my favorite things are mostly quiet activities like new board games, puzzles, Lego sets, and coloring supplies. These are not only great alternatives to throwing electronics at them all day, but they often don’t require an abundance of energy or mental fortitude. Sometimes I even throw in some great chapter books that I can read aloud if I know I might be down for a few days.

2. Make a movie day something special

Sure, it is pretty easy to scroll on through Netflix and just let it roll. And really, there is nothing wrong with that. But let’s be honest, it only buys you 2 hours at most.

But, if you add a few easy, extra ideas, you could buy yourself quite a bit more. Have the kids design tickets or movie posters, make predictions about what they think might happen, or plan (easy) snacks and treats. The last ones do require some forethought, but like the 'bored boxes,' I hide prepackaged snacks (knowing without a doubt that bad days will come — it is just a matter of when) and let the kids set up a little concession stand and sell treats using Monopoly money.

3. Have a backup plan in place

There are sometimes just days when no matter how many tricks you have up your sleeve, you just KNOW it is going to be ugly and you have to hit the panic button. It is my hope that you are blessed to have someone in your life who, when the poop really hits the fan, you can call and beg for help. Even a few blissful hours of quiet can make a huge difference in your ability to fight your way till bedtime. If you have someone that you’ve been able to talk with about this scenario ahead of time, it will help.

4. Communicate with your children

One of the rare positives that have come out of raising children with RA is that I’ve noticed that my children have developed a deep sense of empathy for others. Once they were old enough to understand that sometimes Mom doesn't feel good, they’ve been more willing to be helpful on those days. Simple conversations, especially as they get older, can go a long way in helping them understand without burdening them with unnecessary worry in an age-appropriate way.

5. Don’t beat yourself up

Sometimes the best thing you can do on bad days as a parent with RA is consciously set that guilt aside. Life, and especially life with rheumatoid arthritis, isn’t perfect, and that is okay.

So your kids go over their allotted screen time on a bad day. The world isn’t going to end. Protect your mental health and remind yourself that tomorrow is another day, and just soldier on.

What tips do you have for parenting with RA?

I’m sure there are lots of tips out there that I haven’t thought of, so let me know in the comments below. What are your tips for managing bad days as a parent with RA?

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