Five years ago, I became a mommy for the first time. Her sister arrived 20 months later.
For more than 42 months, I was pregnant or nursing. I even had an overlap of both for about 3 months. My body didn’t just belong to me, which added a few extra challenges when trying to manage psoriasis.
Here’s how I find time to take care of myself and my two girls while coping with a condition like psoriasis.
My psoriasis cleared completely during both of my pregnancies. Then, with both girls, I flared pretty hard 3 to 6 weeks postpartum.
My psoriasis appeared in my normal spots — legs, back, arms, chest, scalp — but this time also on my nipples, thanks to the stress of constant nursing. Oh, the joys of motherhood!
I used coconut oil, which was approved by my pediatrician, to control my symptoms on those sensitive spots. I had concerns about using anything stronger and waited until after we were done nursing to finally go back to the dermatologist.
I knew that life would change drastically when I became a mom. Weirdly, there are many similarities between living with psoriasis and being a parent.
You’re learning on the fly a lot. You’re always googling something to make sure it’s normal. There’s a lot of frustration when something doesn’t work or someone doesn’t listen. There’s an overwhelming sense of pride when you finally figure something out. And there’s a very strong need for patience.
One challenge I face as a parent is finding time to take care of myself. Time and energy are hard to come by after getting two small children ready and out the door, a 3-hour commute, a full day of work, playtime, dinner, baths, bedtime, and trying to squeeze in some writing.
Ultimately, prioritizing my health and happiness makes me a better mom. I also want to be a model for my girls by showing them how important it is to eat well, stay active, and take care of your mental health.
My girls got their own kitchen tools for Christmas and love peeling and cutting their own fruits and vegetables to eat. When they get choices for dinner or role-play in preparing their meals, they’re more likely to eat what we’re serving. They’re starting to understand that what you choose to put into your body can play a role in how you’re feeling.
Although I’m not a morning person, I have taken up 5 a.m. fitness classes to ensure I get my workout in before the crazy day hits. I love having an hour to spend on myself getting stronger.
Everyone is usually still sleeping when I get home, so I can get into the shower immediately and wash the sweat off my skin before it starts getting irritated.
I’ve had periods during motherhood when I’ve never felt stronger or more capable. I’ve also had harder, darker times when I felt like I was failing miserably and couldn’t keep up with everything going on around me.
It’s important for me to talk about these latter times and find ways to take care of my mental well-being. Otherwise, that stress builds and leads to flares.
When it comes to taking care of my psoriasis, my girls help me stick to my routine. They are pros at putting on lotion and know the importance of keeping their skin moisturized.
Now that they’re older, I’ve also gone back on a biologic that I self-inject at home once every 2 weeks. The girls thrive in our routine, so my shot goes on the calendar.
We talk about when the shot is happening just like anything else that is going on during that week. They know it’s to help my psoriasis, and they are happy to help me take it. They sanitize the injection spot with a wipe, count me down to push the button that releases the medication, and put on a princess Band-Aid to make it all better.
Another symptom of psoriasis is fatigue. Even though I’m on a biologic, I still have days when I feel utterly rundown. On those days, we spend more time doing quieter activities and not cooking anything too complicated.
It’s rare for me to completely sit back and do nothing, but my husband takes over to keep things going around the house. It’s challenging because you never know exactly when those days will hit, but it’s important to give in to them because it’s your body telling you that you need a break.
As incredible as it is, being a parent also can be hard. Adding a chronic illness can make it even more challenging to take care of your family and take care of yourself. It’s all about balance and going with the flow on this wild, special ride.
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.