Managing Chronic Migraines as a Parent – Tips for Moms and Dads

September 29th, 2019

Being a parent is a fantastic and rewarding experience, but it can also be incredibly hard sometimes, especially for migraine sufferers. From constantly worrying about the well-being of others, to not having a single moment alone to yourself, it’s no wonder many parents are seriously sleep-deprived.

The relationship between lack of sleep and migraines has been well documented. Researchers conducting animal studies have found that sleep deprivation triggers changes in the nervous system that allows for migraines to occur. For individuals who already get the occasional migraine, the lack of sleep and the constant stress that comes from parenting can be a recipe for disaster.

5 Tips for Successful Parenting with Migraines

Always be prepared

Though we usually think of being prepared for migraines as having the right medications on hand or avoiding sure-fire triggers, preparing yourself for the inevitable can take many different forms. For instance, having a few frozen lunches or dinners that your kids like waiting to be thawed in case of an emergency will save you the stress of figuring out what to cook right in the middle of a migraine attack.

Also, find a migraine buddy; someone that you trust to take care of your kids (your spouse, a family member, a friend, etc.) when a migraine has you locked in a dark room.  This can give you respite during a crisis.

It is important to share a “migraine-attack plan” with your migraine buddy in case they need to take your kids out for a while or pick them up from school. Important things to incorporate on your plan include your kids’ schedules (drop off and pick up times, after school activities, etc.), any allergies, and important phone numbers.

Talk to your kids about your condition

Children are extremely perceptive, and even if you try to hide it, they almost always know when something’s wrong with mom or dad. Regardless of how old your child is, it is important for them to understand, to the best of their abilities, what’s going on with mom or dad.

Talking candidly about your migraines will help ease any fears they might feel when they see you experiencing an attack and understand why sometimes you can’t play with them, cook dinner or help them with homework. That way, next time they see you laying with all the lights off they’ll know that mommy or daddy will be okay and let to have some much-needed quiet time.

Choose migraine-friendly family activities

Having quality time while you have a migraine might seem like an impossible task. But the good news is that you can devise a set of migraine-friendly activities to do with your kids when you are in pain. Having a list of quiet or gentle activities to do with your kids during a migraine attack will ease the mom or dad-guilt that comes with having to spend so much time locked away in a dark room and will give your children certainty that you are going to be okay.

For activities with younger kids, you can opt for quietly playing with Legos, slime or Play-Doh. For children of any age, a movie night is always a good option – prepare some popcorn, dim the lights and let your kids pick their favorite movie. Even if you have to lay next to them with your eyes closed, they’ll appreciate the time together.

Empower your kids to be independent early

Encouraging your kid to be self-efficient from a young age will not only make going through a migraine easier for yourself, but it will also prepare them to be an assertive, self-reliant adult when they grow up. These are some age-appropriate chores that will teach responsibility and self-reliance to children:

Ages 2-3

  • Pick up their toys
  • Put dirty clothes on the hamper
  • Make their bed
  • Put place-mats on the table

Ages 4-6

  • Feed pets
  • Water plants
  • Help fold laundry
  • Put away groceries

Ages 7-11

  • Make breakfast (with supervision)
  • Dust furniture
  • Take out trash
  • Clean their room

Ages 12+

  • Walk dog
  • Sweep/mop
  • Vacuum
  • Wash dishes
  • Mow lawn

 

Be kind to yourself

It’s normal to feel guilty about missing your daughter’s soccer game or not being able to make it to your son’s swimming lesson because you had a migraine. However, it is important to remind yourself that you are doing your best; having migraines is not your fault and having them does not make you a bad parent.

Be patient with yourself and your kids and try to make up for lost time when you are feeling better. Nobody’s perfect, so don’t dwell on what you said, did or didn’t do when you were in pain – instead, when you are back to feeling yourself go out and do something fun together, kids are more resilient than we think.

You got this!