This article is written by Ava Roman from Revivalist.
Chronic illness can affect every aspect of your life — even your relationship with your kids. You want to chase them around with boundless energy, but your condition has you sitting on the bench far too often. How can you maintain your bond without driving your little ones crazy with boredom?
Fortunately, you don’t have to be an all-star athlete to entertain your children. You still have plenty of options, even if you rely on assistive devices for mobility or need to limit your movement to short bursts. Here are six ways to play with your kids while living with chronic illness.
1. Find the Right Play Area
Does your kid love the great outdoors? Playing outside in nature has multiple benefits for you and your little one. Research suggests that it helps children meet their recommended daily exercise quotient, vital for developing strong muscles and bones. Additionally, it improves your mood, leading to an endorphin boost that puts a smile on your face. Finally, nap time becomes less hassle when your kiddos are exhausted from a vigorous play session.
However, designers don’t create all playgrounds equally. While the Americans With Disabilities Act requires all such facilities to be accessible, jurisdictions vary in their interpretation of the law. Some might say a paved walkway from the parking lot to the play area is sufficient, but this amenity hardly helps you play with your kids if you use a wheelchair.
Instead, seek facilities with paved walkways throughout the complex. Furthermore, seek play areas with ample shade from trees and overhead canopies. Such features protect your little one’s delicate skin from burns and safeguard you if you have a heart condition — excessive heat can strain your ticker and kidneys.
2. Use Everyday Assistive Devices
You might rely on a walker or wheelchair to navigate daily life. Some people rely on these daily. However, folks with dynamic disabilities have a different reality, feeling fine some days but struggling to complete activities of daily living on others.
However, you can use everyday objects as assistive devices when playing with your kids. For example, a carved walking stick — or even the right branch you find on the ground — can become a combination wizard staff and walking aid. You’ll be cooler than Gandalf.
Is sitting on the floor painful on tight arthritic hips? Grab some couch cushions and pad your sit-bones. Alternatively, clear off the coffee table as a play area and recline on the couch while kiddo takes the carpet.
3. Embrace Arts and Crafts
Who said that playtime had to involve chasing your kid around the yard? While you both need exercise, you don’t need to constantly pump up your muscles. Embrace quieter playtime activities like arts and crafts.
For example, why not use those old bottle caps to make a homemade stamp kit that your toddler can use to decorate greeting cards and coloring book pages? Who can forget painting rotini noodles to make various jewelry? Suncatchers are a snap to create with anything from tissue paper to markers.
Encouraging arts and crafts time — and stocking your child up on supplies — comes with a bonus. It makes quiet play time more palatable. Teaching your little ones that taking a time-out for such activities can help them regulate their emotions and modeling this behavior can help you tame tantrums without resorting to punishment.
4. Expand Your Board Game Selection
Bringing back family game night is a fabulous way to play with your kids while living with chronic illness. Everyone can weigh in on their favorite selections, taking turns or perhaps using the chance to choose as a reward for finishing chores without prompting.
What are some of the best games to add to your collection? Dungeons and Dragons: the Adventure Begins can spark young imaginations and Underdog Games Trekking the National Park lets you explore a fictional hike through some of America’s most scenic places.
5. Get Into Video Gaming
Does your little one clamor for a video game console? Such devices are a fantastic way to play with your kids while living with chronic illness. Please educate yourself if you hesitate. While some online games promote excessive violence, others are educational and can even help your child in the classroom.
Ask your little ones what games they would enjoy and research them before you buy. If they select one with uncomfortable themes, work together to choose an alternative. You still want to limit their time behind the screen, but playing alongside them means you don’t have to worry about potential no-goodniks attempting to solicit personal information from your child via chat.
6. Move Your Bodies Together
Most kids love to dance. Your toddler may not need much more encouragement than you docking your iPhone to start boogying down in your living room. However, you can challenge them to a dance-off if they need a little prompting.
Likewise, yoga is one of the best movement forms for people with chronic illness, and it knows no age limit. Research suggests that moves like cat-cow massage your vagus nerve, easing chronic pain. Plus, it’s a snap to teach your kids to round their spines like scared Halloween kitties or breathe like Darth Vader.
How to Play With Your Kids While Living With Chronic Illness
You want to bond with your kids, and playtime offers the best way to do so. However, chronic illness can make your child’s favorite activities more problematic.
Follow the six tips above to play with your kids while living with chronic illness. You can still enjoy a magical bonding time with a little creativity and innovation.
For more inspiration, you could check out ’30 Ways to Entertain You’re Active Toddler When You’re Sick’ or take a look at more in-depth advice on how to parent with chronic illness throughout the years.