Finding Stability

Managing Cancer Fatigue When Your Kids Are Home for the Summer

Summer vacation means more scheduling and planning with your family. You can find ways to spend time with your kids when they're off from school, even if you have cancer fatigue.

Your kids look forward to the summer break, when school is out, the weather is warm and there’s plenty to do with friends outdoors. As you know, your kids require a lot of (loving) parental energy. It’s hard enough to keep up your energy when healthy, but when you have cancer fatigue, it’s even more difficult.

Though you may be tired or not feeling well from cancer treatments, it’s still possible to enjoy this seasonal time with your kids and let them continue their normal summer activities. It just takes a little adjusting. Here are some ways to manage cancer fatigue and summer with the kids.

Hire a Mother’s Helper

Hiring a babysitter or mother’s helper part time gives you some rest time while allowing your kids to have some summer fun. A mother’s helper is usually a less expensive alternative, like a school-age tween who can play with your children at home while you’re still there. Maybe they toss the ball in the yard or do crafts in the house. You can still spend time with your kids without overexerting yourself during treatment.

Rely on Friends

Your friends are more than willing to help out when you’re going through cancer treatment. One option is to sign the kids up for the same camp as your friend’s kids, and let your friend drive them to camp. Or let your friend take all the kids to the community pool or the park. Sometimes having more kids playing together is easier than just your own, so it’s not necessarily a big favor to ask. You can also arrange for your children to go to outdoor events, like annual carnivals or concerts, with a neighbor, so no one has to miss out on these summer staples.

Create Memories While Lying Down

Hanging out with your children doesn’t have to be a huge excursion. You don’t even have to leave your bed sometimes. If you’re not feeling well, you can watch daytime TV with the kids, cuddling on the couch together. Another fun and easy shared activity is Mad Libs, where you can still rest while you and your kids giggle. Start a book series together, like “Harry Potter,” and then watch the movies when finished. You can read aloud to your kids while propped up on the pillow. If your kids are younger, let them play with Legos or stuffed animals on the floor of your room. You’re still spending time together, but it’s a different setting for them than the playroom.

If there are specific things you know you want to do with your kids, actually put them on the calendar. Try to schedule them around your treatments and when you know you’ll feel your best. Sometimes, unfortunately, you may have to skip the big events. When that does arise, have you kids recreate it on a smaller scale at home so they can still share the fun.

Get Some Exercise

Even if you have cancer fatigue, it’s still a good idea to get fresh air and exercise. Take a family walk around the block, or get on the bike if you’re up to it. You don’t have to go far, but being outdoors and moving your body will be good for you and the kids. As well, hold family yoga sessions in the morning before camp to get everyone ready and calm for the day ahead.

Undergoing cancer treatment and dealing with the side effects isn’t easy when the kids are home. But with some advanced preparation and thought, you and the kids can make the most of the time together.

Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Deborah Abrams Kaplan