7 Helpful Tips for Stay-At-Home Moms Living with Chronic Illness

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Inside: Studies show that stay-at-home moms are more likely to experience stress and depression – add on living with a chronic illness and you have a recipe for disaster. Read on to find the best tips for stay-at-home moms living with chronic illness.

I never intended on being a stay-at-home mom.

Setting aside my ambition to focus on raising a human wasn’t something I ever seriously considered until I developed the early signs of ALS.

I mean what would I even do anyways?

How would I feel a sense of accomplishment if I wasn’t completing a six-month project and getting promoted?

Could I manage not seeing faces of people my age on a daily basis?

What would I answer when people asked me the question,So, what do you do?”

However, while I was dreaming of steady paychecks and after-work drinks, my body was making other plans. As my chronic illness progressed, adding “stay-at-home mom” to my resume seemed pretty inevitable for my future.

7 Helpful Tips for Stay-At-Home

You see, living with a chronic illness takes an unimaginable toll on your body that’s hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it for yourself. I’m exhausted from doing the simplest, everyday tasks such as taking a shower and brushing my teeth. I was already struggling with work, so the idea that I’d be able to add taking care of a baby to my plate just wasn’t realistic—That’s when I decided to add stay-at-home mom to my resume. 

I was anxious about the drastic life change, and I knew it wouldn’t be easy, especially while living with a chronic illness. The physical demands would be something that I hadn’t experienced in years.

So in order to save my sanity and avoid becoming a stressed out stay-at-home mom, I developed some coping strategies. 

1. Stick to a Consistent Routine

An alarm clock sits next to you a pad of paper to help stay-at-home moms stick to a consistent routine.

One of the best things that you can do for yourself and your family is stick to a consistent routine.

Children crave routine. They need structure and predictability. With all of the internal changes going on inside of their little bodies, they need to feel secure with their external surroundings. Use the extra time you have to your advantage and incorporate a consistent schedule to help keep your family on track.

Benefits of Sticking to a Routine:

  • Exposes children to healthy habits
  • Establishes independence in children
  • Creates a calmer household
  • Helps alleviate power struggles between parents and children

Furthermore, developing consistent routines is not only good for the child, but important for stay-at-home moms, as well.

Sticking to a routine means:

  • You can predict when your child will be hungry.
  • You can predict when your child will be tired.
  • Your child is more likely to have regular bowel movements.
  • Your child is more likely to sleep better at night.
  • Your child will intuitively learn to wait based on his/her routine. 

Sticking to a consistent routine eliminates the guessing game when trying to figure out why your child is crying or cranky. Since your child is accustomed to a certain schedule, you can plan ahead; thus, reducing stress on families.

It’s important to note that sticking to a consistent routine does not mean implementing a strict regimen without room for flexibility. Creating a consistent routine means following a general guide for the way you will incorporate habits into your daily life.

2. Ask for Help 

Another tip to help stay-at-home moms is asking for help.

The sooner you realize that people who care about you want to help, living with a chronic illness will become a lot easier. I need help so often now that I actually rely on the kindness of strangers when I’m out in public. Asking for help felt strange at the beginning, but one of the unexpected things I’ve learned from living with a chronic illness is how nice other people can be.

If you’re tired and in pain, you may not feel like you have a lot to offer in terms of reciprocating, but the simple act of just listening can mean so much to people. Listening doesn’t require a lot of effort and it is something so powerful that you can offer to others when you’re living with a chronic illness.

Whether it’s your family, friends, neighbors, community members, other stay-at-home moms, etc., don’t be afraid to ask for help. Just remember to practice gratitude and always say please and thank you!

3. Don’t Compare Yourself to Other Stay-At-Home Moms

Stay-at-home moms shouldn’t compare themselves to other moms.

Growing up, my mom never packed a single lunch for me. Not. One. Time. While other kids were sporting Ninja Turtle lunch boxes and eating carrot sticks, I was scarfing down the three bags of Doritos and chocolate milk that I grabbed last minute from our pantry before heading to school. 

And guess what? I don’t harbor one ounce of resentment. My mom raised me before Pinterest was a thing. Hell, even before household internet was a thing. She didn’t have a plethora of other moms to compare herself to, nor did she care.

I know this is hard to do, but you have to cut yourself some slack. You’re living with a chronic illness that causes exhaustion to levels never felt by someone with an able body. There are so many times throughout the day that I have to wave the metaphorical white flag and say, “This is the best that I can do.”

When your child is older, they’re not going to care about how well-decorated their nursery was or if they had a custom made Halloween costume. 

But what they will remember is how you spoke to them, how you showed up for them and the words of encouragement that you used for them. It’s important to keep in mind the things that truly matter on a daily basis and refrain from comparing yourself to other moms. 

4. Get Organized

 Stay-at-home moms should get organized.

Much like consistent routines, our brains crave organization. For instance, researchers found that the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, were higher in mothers whose home environment was cluttered.

A spike in cortisol can lead to a feeling of fight or flight. If you’re a stay-at-home mom living with a chronic illness, chances are you already know how stress affects the body. Keeping your home organized can help reduce anxiety and leave you calmer to face the tougher challenges.

The Negative Effects of Clutter:

  • One study found that people who sleep in cluttered rooms are more likely to have sleep problems, including difficulty falling asleep and disturbed during the night.
  • The visual distraction of clutter increases cognitive overload and can reduce working memory.
  • Research shows cluttered environments negatively influence the perception of our homes, and ultimately our satisfaction of life.

Sometimes maintaining a clean house isn’t possible when living with chronic illness (and that’s OK!) However, focusing on creating healthy habits is a small thing that you can do on a daily basis that will lead to big changes.

Nowadays, every single thing in my house has a place where it goes – everything. If it doesn’t have a place, I either create one or I throw the item away. Simple as that.

5. Find a Support Group

Stay-at-home moms should find support.

Easily, one of the best things that’s happened to me through searching for a diagnosis is meeting other people who are living with chronic illness.

In the beginning, I felt alone and didn’t want to burden my friends with calling them 20 times a day crying. When I started reaching out and finding people who were dealing with similar challenges, I instantly felt happier and more confident. 

I can promise you that whatever it is that you’re going through, there’s more than likely someone else going through the same thing. It feels good to build comraderie and relationships within a group of like individuals. 

How to Find a Support Group

  • Ask your physician or mental health therapist for suggestions
  • Visit advocacy websites dedicated to your issue
  • Use social media to follow hashtags related to your issue and don’t be scared to reach out to people

I can be pretty shy myself and get nervous in front of groups. If you want to start small before signing up for an in-person meetup, follow my Facebook page, Disability Dame, to find more stay-at-home moms living with chronic illness just like you.

6. Let It Out

Four stay-at-home moms laugh at happy hour.

Speaking of finding a support group, don’t underestimate the benefits of venting. Oftentimes, we can ruminate on negative emotions until we eventually lash out in anger. Keeping anger and frustration inside leads to resentment that inevitably manifests itself in different areas of our lives.

Have you ever felt a weight lifted off your shoulders immediately after telling someone about your frustration? Simply venting to someone is a cathartic way to let go of negative emotions and a great way to gain additional insight that you might 

If opening up is hard for you, then journaling is another great way to release frustration.I first started this blog as a way of venting after searching for a diagnosis for years.  Living with a chronic illness was taking its toll mentally and emotionally, and I needed a way of letting go without necessarily having someone on the receiving end to hear. I decided to go public with it, because I felt it could help to know that others are struggling with similar issues.  

7. Find Shortcuts Where You Can

Stay-at-home moms should find shortcuts to help throughout their day.

As a stay-at-home mom living with a chronic illness, I know firsthand the importance of conserving energy. The spoon theory is a way of explaining the limited amount of energy that individuals living with chronic illness have to expend each day.

Because I’m easily fatigued, it’s important to find “shortcuts” anywhere I can.

Ways to Conserve Energy:

  • Use laundry detergent pods instead of heavy, liquid bottles.
  • Prep smoothie bags every Sunday night and leave them in the freezer for the rest of the week. Each morning, grab a bag and add some coconut water or milk for an easy, quick and nutritious breakfast.
  • Add an Alexa to the house to instantly check the weather, add to a grocery list, order items online and play music all from voice activation.
  • Invest in the August Doorbell and give visitors access to your home from the touch of an app or simply telling Alexa to “unlock the door.” It also features an auto lock and unlock option where the door will automatically lock or unlock when you’re within 200 yards of the sensor.
  • Meal plan and order all of your groceries online.
  • Get preventative health treatments at home, like Phoenix IV therapy. Treatments boost energy and fight inflammation associated with many chronic illnesses, helping to relieve pain.

I’m definitely a “work smarter, not harder” type of person, so finding ways to save energy comes natural for me. Down to the types of bottles that we use for soap and shampoo, I’m always looking for ways to make my life easier.

Final Thoughts on Helpful Tips for Stay-At-Home Moms Living with Chronic Illness

Parenting is hard and parenting with a chronic illness is even harder. If there’s anything that I can offer you, it’s to know that you’re not alone in this. I hope these tips can make even a small part of your life just a little easier.

Are you a stay-at-home mom living with a chronic illness? Comment below and share your tips for surviving life as a stay-at-home mom.

Allie Schmidt

Allie Schmidt is a rare disease advocate and disabled mom living with motor neuron disease. She founded Disability Dame in 2020 to provide tips to other moms living with disabilities and chronic illnesses.

In her spare time, you can find her traveling with her husband (she's been to 38 states and 16 countries!), watching reruns of Survivor, or tending to her near-constant sunburn from spending too much time outside. You can follow her adventures here.

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4 thoughts on “7 Helpful Tips for Stay-At-Home Moms Living with Chronic Illness”

  1. Des, I can’t even believe no one has replied to this in 2 years, at least to say, I’m sorry you’ve been through all this. I came here hoping to find tips to help my wife. You helped me think about how to be a better, more supportive husband and father. I do not behave like your husband. But, I know I’ve felt and thought like him. Damn. I understand about the inept therapists too. A good church is hard to come by, but don’t give up. When you do find that group in the church who can support you mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, it will be be good for you, your husband, and your children. I pray you find it.

  2. Rheumatoid Arthritis, ADHD, and Anxiety, and both can influence the other. If I’m having a stressful day, my joints hurt, if my joints hurt on a day I planned to do stuff I get stressed. The hard part is really keeping balanced, and taking care of yourself too. I’ve been there, I’m there right now actually, i havent taken a shower in over a week. The kids are clean though lol There are days when I also feel just plain hopeless. I wonder sometimes too if I’m just a burden on everyone, and honestly I’ve been getting frustrated lately from being home alone, and unable to keep up with chores while taking care of the baby and our pets. But I just let it out now. Its better than keeping it in, because i have been grumpy with my family and they dont deserve that. The other day I was stuck on the floor, it was taking forever for me to get myself up, then my baby came, and she grabbed my hand and made a grunting sound lol the same sound i painfully make when moving around sometimes! In a way, she thought the grunting was the source of my strength 💪, it actually does help to be honest lol I also know my partner loves me, and he’s not just with me for the kids, he’s not the type, he would leave if he wanted to but he doesn’t, cuz he loves me, and regardless of my disability and the fact that its getting worse. I also do feel depressed, but the meds will start working soon. I’m dealing with a delinquent teenager who hates me, but I love her and I’m taking an online parenting class (which I bought with my own savings) to teach me how to cope with her behaviors. I can’t run and chase my baby, but I can snuggle with her and read to her, colour with her, and take care of her needs. Life is too short to be miserable, and you gotta be honest with yourself, and your partner. But mostly yourself and what you can and cant do, or even how to make it work for your disability. For example, stairs are my enemy, i loathe them but i cant avoid them, so in order to do laundry ive switched to using green bags and garbage bags to haul them up and down the stairs. (Usually throwing it up or down which ever way im going lol) since it was almost impossible for me to carry a laundry basket, this works so much better! I surprise myself sometimes when I finish a chore or project, or managed to have a tea party with my kids, or just doing any basic “parent thing” and I take it as a win! Cuz I don’t know what tomorrow will be like, enjoy the little victories when they happen. It’s all the more sweeter.

  3. I’m severely burned out. I am 35yrs old, diagnosed on the autism spectrum with severe ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, MDD (with psychotic features), (c)PTSD from things I won’t get into too much detail however it didn’t stop in adulthood. I ran away from my sex trafficker at 19 and got married to someone I thought was a very kind and compassionate man. He changed immediately. I had just developed severe chronic pain that causes daily headaches that often turn into 2-3 day migraines.

    Since I was raised in the system I never had help or support but was always left behind, severely bullied, severely abused and neglected which is what caused PTSD by 10 and my first nearly successful suicide attempt at 11. I did not want to live as I did not think a better life was ever something in the cards for me. I always knew I was different but was always ashamed. Others constantly pick at that. I’d get jumped by groups of kids, black eyes, songs sung about me, etc etc. And it did not stop in adulthood.

    I used to reach out. I’ve tried churches, therapists to no avail. No one will help me. Therapists here refer me out as they never feel “qualified”. No one here understands autism so they just look down on me due to my severe social barriers.
    No one understands my chronic pain and I have 0 value to others.
    I’ve tried to build myself up alone time and again. I just don’t have the energy anymore and I often fantasize about death to the point that I dream of committing suicide and wake up and the dream was a good dream. I don’t know how to explain it.
    I just lost a close online friend to suicide who struggled with a very similar pain condition as me, also isolated (no friends no family).

    We moved to an extremely hostile city where I’ve been attacked (either jumped or raped) by “friends” back when I would try to make them as well as strangers. Crime is extremely high here and people will jump you in daylight. They hide a lot of what goes on from the media.
    Part of my autism disability is that I don’t have any awareness of danger and can not read people. I don’t get “vibes”. If someone is friendly, (well I hadn’t had a friend in over a decade), I think- possible friend! Then I get robbed, drugged, or set up to get jumped etc.
    I am now extremely agoraphobic and I stay in the house all day every day. I don’t trust anyone.
    I am married but my husband views me as a child because of my difficulties trying to do basic things that most others find simple.
    I don’t have an education. My burnout is not only being a SAHM of another autistic and ADHD child with absolutely 0 breaks or help in over four years, it’s the environment in which we live. It’s my husband coming home screaming at me because I misunderstood or I’m depressed and it’s burdening him. It’s being stuck in my head 24/7 to the point I don’t shower or eat for days. I go through the motions completely flat affected. I’m detached. I’m traumatized.
    My husband has friends. He is a nuerotypical and has no issue connecting with others. He can’t help me parent (he works nights and sleeps all day).
    He is my only social interaction. He screams at me, calls me names, intimidates me, breaks things and sometimes more when he explodes. He’s not disabled and has no mental health issues although I’m sure he has NPD as he checks off everything especially gaslighting, holding me down, etc.
    Today he called me “chicken sh#t” because I’m agoraphobic due to all of the attacks and rapes and of course I got defensive but I’m not allowed to get defensive. My agoraphobia first developed 16 years ago when we first married. He always screams at me and humiliates me badly in public for any little thing which can send me into a total meltdown.
    He says “You won’t ever do anything because you never listen to what I f#ng teach you” but he doesn’t teach me anything but how much I suck.
    I’m so burned out and I depersonalize all day. I have 0 desire for a better life. I feel like I’m just waiting to die.
    With this extreme stress of his constant abuse, my declining mental and physical health, raising a special needs son alone with 0 breaks and no help available, living in a city where I’m targeted and traumatized (I’ve lived in several different cities- this city is a hostile nightmare party/drig city with nothing to do and it’s desert) and the fact he clutters the house and makes it a disastrous place to be, I just want to die.
    I am so burned out I wonder how much I can do this. People will say, “How selfish”, if I kill myself as a mother however I cannot leave my husband as he is my only family/friend, he is the source for any pain relief and goes to appointments with me to help me communicate my needs as I don’t communicate very well.
    My son would be taken away and I’d be prostituting myself on the streets to afford heroin to kill my pain and depression unless I killed myself because I’ve been homeless in my prime when trying to leave him and the only thing I could do to afford to live was strip. I hated it and got into drugs and alcohol. I hated it so I couldn’t continue.
    Either way I’m f#cked. I can’t strip anymore. Without my husband’s support I wouldn’t get my pain taken care of.
    I should be grateful that most of my basic needs (roof, heat, food though my body rejects it). I don’t get intimacy, I don’t get love, I am worthless, I have no purpose and can’t even be the mom I wish I had. I feel trapped.
    I don’t know what to do. I just want to die.
    I have no skills, some “decent” talents. I can’t hold a job, can’t even get a job as my son isn’t in daycare nor will they accept him as at 4yrs old I’m still changing his diapers.
    I don’t even remember what laughing feels like, what “fun” is. The only good in my life is that I’m home alone away from the world that I have learned not to trust.
    I have no motivation. No drive. I feel empty. I feel like I’m already dead, living in a f#ng loop every single day stuck in hell. And I’m afraid. I’m really afraid.


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