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6 Parenting Tips for When You Have a Migraine

Strategies to help parents who get migraines.

3. Choose quiet places and activities.

Some parents say that they can continue to spend time with their children when they have a migraine if they can find quiet, calm activities to do together. They caution that you should avoid places that are likely to aggravate your symptoms, such as a playground with bright sunlight and screaming kids. 

"There are days when the slightest noise hurts me, but I still want to engage with my 2-year-old daughter in a quiet activity like reading a book," says Mark Tippett of Herndon, Va. He has chronic migraines due to a traumatic brain injury he sustained while serving in the Army in Iraq. "We'll make shapes with Play-Doh together at the dinner table and it takes my mind off the pain."

Katie Biggs, a mother of two in Naperville, Ill., sometimes has a movie night with her kids when she has a migraine. Biggs makes popcorn and ice cream sundaes with her 18-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son and turns the living room into a movie theater. "We turn off the lights and have a movie marathon. I can stay with them, even if I'm laying on the couch with ice on my head," she says.

Rebeccah Graves, who has a 4-year-old and a 15-month-old, has her kids play with their toys in a childproofed playroom when she has a migraine. "I'll bring a pillow and lay on the floor as they play quietly around me," says Graves, who lives in Vienna, Va. "It's great to set up a safe space where your young kids can be entertained and you can be nearby if you're needed."

4. Talk to your kids about your migraines.

Whether your kids are toddlers or teens, parents say it's best to talk openly with them about your migraines. You can help calm any fears they may have when they see you having an attack and understand why your usual routine may change on those days.

"I think it really helps to explain your migraines to your kids," Graves says. If your kids are young, you could compare how you feel when you get a migraine to a time that they didn't feel well, she says.

When her children were younger, Biggs explained her migraines to them by saying they felt like getting an ice cream headache or "brain freeze" that doesn't go away for a really long time. "Kids understand that because it's something they've experienced," she says. "The key is to explain it very simply."     

5. Find support.

For the times when a migraine makes it difficult for you to function, it helps to line up adults you trust who can potentially assist with childcare. Talk with them in advance about your migraines and the kinds of support you might need.

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