Your responsibilities as a parent don’t end with a breast cancer diagnosis. You still have to do all the things, only now you have appointments, treatment and a whole slew of other concerns, too. On top of that, you’re probably not feeling your best. Deep breaths. You can do this. These tips can help you balance everyday obligations with the demands of treatment—so you can take care of yourself and still be an awesome parent.
stick to a routine
There’s no way around it. When you start treatment, things are going to change—for everyone. Events will occasionally be cancelled, schedules will need to shift. Despite all this, maintaining a routine is important for the whole family, especially your kids. It allows for some sense of normalcy and can help them feel secure when so much may feel out of their hands. Be sure to throw a little family fun onto the weekly schedule as well. Monday movie nights? Taco Tuesdays? Friday night dance parties? Heck, yes.
find consistent help
Being supermom (or superdad) isn’t realistic for anyone. Seek, accept and request help. Find a friend or family member who your kids know and trust. Someone you can depend on for whatever you need, whether it’s driving the kids to baseball practice, grabbing a few groceries or hanging out at the house.
We all get it. Asking for help is hard, but most people genuinely want to help. You might also feel like you’re missing out. Remind yourself that it’s for now, not forever. And more importantly, your child is safe and being cared for.
talk about it
It can be hard to know what to say to your kids or how much information is too much. Above all, be open and honest. Encourage your kids to ask questions and express concerns. When explaining what you’re going through, use consistent, simple facts that focus on getting better. Young kids tend to do better with bite-sized explanations, which you may find yourself frequently repeating. Little ones might also benefit from a cancer-related book. Living Beyond Breast Cancer provides books for free through their Reading for Reassurance program.
check in with your kids
All kids process and deal with a parent’s illness differently. If you notice your child acting out or experiencing heightened emotions, reach out to them and try to talk through it. If they continue to have a hard time with everything, or you’re unsure how to help, consider contacting a school social worker or child therapist to help them process their feelings and learn new ways to cope.
make time for yourself
Prioritizing your well-being is neither selfish nor optional. In fact, it’s more important than ever. So stop the juggling for a while and focus on you. Just you. You’re going through a lot, and being a parent while you’re facing it isn’t easy. When you can, lean into the moments spent with your kids and take it all in. But when you need to step away and focus on you, do it. You’ll be a better parent for it.