Summers are tricky. On the one hand, you’ve been looking forward to more time with your children. On the other hand, you have migraine, and the thought of all that time with kids during migraine attacks is daunting. These conflicting feelings can be a lot, but know that you are not alone. So many parents with migraine struggle with the joys and burdens of parenthood, and summer can be especially tough. With summer now in full swing, I want to share five tips on how parents with migraine can make summers easier and more enjoyable.
5 Tips to Help You Enjoy the Summer
1. Set Up Childcare
As a parent with migraine, you will have doctor appointments, symptomatic days, and days you’ll need to catch up on the mounting responsibilities life has for us. Having help with childcare is essential. It is fun for your kids to have a change of scenery, and having time to focus on health is crucial for you. In many areas, there are various camp options at different price points. Some find hiring a babysitter or a mother’s helper a more cost-effective alternative. If camp isn’t in the budget anad there aren’t any scholarships available, get creative! If you have a friend or neighbor nearby, you can take turns hosting playdates or even split the cost of a babysitter to watch several kids at once. If you are lucky enough to have family nearby, see if they can help with some childcare duties.
Having childcare, even for a few hours weekly, can be really helpful for both your physical and mental health. While I love my kids deeply, it is necessary to make sure I have time for myself to go to doctor appointments, run errands, or just to be able to sleep on the couch during a bad head day. If you don’t have any good local options, try posting on a local parents’ Facebook group to see if you can connect and develop creative solutions to summer childcare with others in your position.
2. Let Go Of Guilt
Is summer not going as you had hoped? Are your kids spending too much time on screens? Let go of the guilt; it will not help you in any way! Instead, focus on cherishing your time together and remember that even small moments can be meaningful. Summer may be a time for fun and adventure, but it’s also a chance to slow down, bond with your family, and enjoy quality time together. Find ways to make the most of your summer by looking into activities you can all do from home – like having movie nights or crafting projects. Or look for non-traditional ways to explore the outdoors together, like a picnic in the park or even your back yard. Remember, by focusing on your health, you can have more moments of feeling good and creating memories.
3. Plan Ahead
If you are planning outings, do your research ahead of time. Will there be migraine triggers? If you know what you’re facing, you can make a plan to help counteract triggers ahead of time. Bring your migraine glasses if there will be harsh UV lights or bright sun, earplugs if the venue is noisy, or a hat if you will be spending time outside. If you are avoiding specific food triggers, check a restaurant’s menu to make sure there is something you can eat. You can check the website to get a feel for where you are going and call ahead with any questions or if you need any special accommodations.
If you are flying, you can get accessibility services, such as help getting to your gate with or without a wheelchair, and the ability to bring an extra bag for medications. Many international airports are starting to adopt a program where passengers with hidden disabilities can wear a Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard. If you choose to wear the lanyard, it signals to employees that you may need some extra help while traveling. Make sure to check ahead of time what accommodations your airport and airlines can offer!
4. Have A To-Go Bag Prepared
Remember the hospital bag you had packed and ready to go when awaiting the birth of your baby? This is like that, but for fun outings! Having a to-go bag filled and ready with essentials for outings makes it much easier to get ready on time and with less stress. It also means that I don’t forget things when I am preoccupied with my kids.
The most important item in my to-go bag is my migraine toolkit. I keep it stocked with essentials that help me fight the dreaded migraine attacks. My toolkit includes migraine glasses, earplugs, a neuromodulation device, and a pill box containing supplements as well as both preventive and abortive medications. While my migraine toolkit is used year-round, it is imperative to keep it stocked and ready in the summer when I am on the go.
Other things I like to have in my to-go bag are wipes, sanitizer, sunscreen, bug spray, a change of clothes for the kids, and a first aid kit with things like bandaids, Neosporin, and tweezers for splinters and ticks. And always remember to bring fresh water for you and the kids!
5. Have Treats Ready For A Bad Migraine Day
Plan ahead, and shop at the Dollar Store, or Target dollar spot, for inexpensive, fun activities your kids can do independently. Surprise them with a new toy when you have a migraine attack. This way they can keep busy while you care for yourself. This is an excellent way for your child to build their independent play skills, have something that is screen-free, while also feeling special from getting a small gift. I love coloring and activity books, fun playdough colors or scents, unique coloring supplies, and mess-free painting kits. I walk the aisles when I’m out, and pick a few items my kids love so that I have them ready for when they’re needed.
Parenting with Migraine During the Summer
Although we can’t always prevent migraine attacks from happening, there are many ways to cope and enjoy summer when you’re living with this often debilitating neurological disorder. Remember, migraine is a spectrum disorder, affecting everyone differently. It will also likely play a significant role in how active you are this summer, so it is vital to prioritize your health. I hope these tips help you have a safe and enjoyable summer, and help you create some great memories with your children. Wishing you a happy and healthy summer season!
Let Us Know
As a parent, what is the summer like for you? Is it a fun time, challenging, exhausting, memory-building? Let us know in the comments which of these tips you find the most helpful, and also which tips you would add that you have found helpful!
Marina Medved-Lentini is the Founder of Parenting With Migraine, dedicated to helping people with migraine, especially parents, live more empowered lives by providing education, support, and hope. Marina lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two children. Parenting With Migraine is a member of the Coalition for Headache and Migraine Patients (CHAMP). You can join Marina’s Facebook Support Group or follow her on Instagram.