As a mom with two toddlers, finding time to take care of my psoriasis flares is an ongoing challenge. My days are jam-packed with getting two small children out the door, a 1 1/2-hour commute, a full day of work, another long drive home, dinner, baths, bedtime, and sometimes finishing up leftover work or squeezing in some writing. Time and energy are in short supply, especially when it comes to my own self-care. But I know that being healthy and happy helps me to be a better mom.
It’s only recently that I’ve had time and space to think about the different ways I’ve learned to balance motherhood with managing my psoriasis. For the past 3 1/2 years, I’ve been pregnant or nursing — including a few months when I did both! That meant my body was focused on growing and nourishing my two healthy, beautiful girls. Now that they’re (a little) less attached to my body, I can think more about options to prevent and treat my flares.
Like many families, our days follow a set routine. I find it’s best if I incorporate my own treatment plans into our daily schedule. With a little planning, I can balance taking care of my family and taking care of myself.
Eat well for yourself and for your kids
My husband and I want our children to grow up eating well. The easiest way to make sure that they learn how to make healthy choices about their food is to make those choices ourselves.
In my experience, the food I eat also impacts my skin’s health. For example, my skin flares when I eat junk food. I still crave it sometimes, but having small children has given me even more motivation to cut it out.
I used to be able to hide the good snacks on the top cabinet, but they can hear a wrapper or a crunch from five rooms away. It’s increasingly hard to explain why I can have chips but they can’t.
Embrace child-oriented exercise — literally
Exercise used to mean a 90-minute Bikram class or an hour-long Zumba class. Now it means afterwork dance parties and running around the house trying to leave in the morning. Toddlers also like to be picked up and swung around, which is basically like lifting 20–30 pound weights. Exercise is essential to controlling flares because it helps me alleviate the stress in my life that makes my psoriasis worse. That means doing a few sets of “toddler lifts” may actually improve my health.
Multitasking can include skin care
Being a mom with psoriasis has its challenges — but it also gives you a chance to learn new ways to multitask! To my husband’s delight, I have placed lotions and creams all over our house. This makes it easy to apply them whenever it’s convenient. For example, if my daughter is in the bathroom washing her hands for the hundredth time, I can simultaneously supervise her while moisturizing my skin.
Open up when you need help
After my younger daughter was born, I struggled with postpartum anxiety, which I believe contributed to my latest flare. It seemed like I had everything I needed to be happy — an amazing husband and two healthy, incredible daughters — but I felt strangely sad. For months, not a day went by when I didn’t cry uncontrollably.
I couldn’t even begin to explain what was wrong. I was scared to say out loud that something wasn’t right because it made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. When I finally opened up and talked about it, I felt an immediate sense of relief. It was a big step toward healing and feeling like myself again.
It’s nearly impossible to get help if you don’t ask for it. Actively managing your emotional health is an essential part of managing your psoriasis. If you’re struggling with difficult emotions, reach out and get the support you need.
Being a parent is tough enough. A chronic illness can make it even more challenging to do all the things you need to do to take care of your family. That’s why it’s so important to find time for self-care. Taking time for yourself to be well, physically and mentally, gives you the strength to be the best parent you can be. When you hit a rough patch, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent — it means you’re brave enough and smart enough to get support when you need it.
Joni Kazantzis is the creator and blogger for justagirlwithspots.com, an award-winning psoriasis blog dedicated to creating awareness, educating about the disease, and sharing personal stories of her 19+ year journey with psoriasis. Her mission is to create a sense of community and to share information that can help her readers cope with the day-to- day challenges of living with psoriasis. She believes that with as much information as possible, people with psoriasis can be empowered to live their best life and make the right treatment choices for their life.