I was working full-time when I started getting Fibromyalgia symptoms. I was in and out of the doctor’s office but still tried to work full-time. I worked full-time for 5 months and then my boss let me switch to part-time. It was definitely easier to manage things at home but after a while I still felt like I never got any down-time and it was hard to keep up. My time at home was filled with other things. Especially since I really wanted to spend more time on this blog! So we finally felt like we were financially stable enough for me to stay home. Now my job is to manage everything at home, take care of my health and my kids, and work on this blog. But I love it! So here is what it was like for me at work vs. what it is like at home, and pros & cons of each.
Fibromyalgia at Work:
It was nice sitting down at a desk throughout the day and having the adult interaction. I got to eat my lunch and take a break in peace. It was much quieter too. And being at work kept me on a schedule. I had a designated time to eat breakfast and lunch. At home sometimes I don’t end up having lunch until like 2. I get busy with something and forget. It was nice feeling like I accomplished something. At home sometimes I feel like I didn’t get anything done all day when in reality, I did do something but it was bits and pieces so it didn’t feel like much. And sometimes I do miss dressing up and looking professional instead of being in my pajamas or jeans all the time. It was a good feeling to feel important, doing something to contribute to society and feeling appreciated. Don’t get me wrong, I do feel appreciated sometimes at home. But not like I did with my job. I liked having the excuse of work though. ‘My house is a mess because I work and don’t have time to clean it’, lol. Now it’s like, uh… my house is a mess because I have Fibro and don’t have the energy to keep up with it all the time. If I spent all my time and energy cleaning I wouldn’t be able to make all the food that I make and blog about stuff. And wouldn’t be able to do all the fun things with my kids.
Sitting down that much was also killing me. I don’t like to sit for that long. It hurts, and my body gets stiff. The stress at work wasn’t good for me either. Stress can make us physically hurt and have a flare-up. It was also hard to interact with people all the time, especially when I didn’t feel good. I would have to put on a smile and not show how I really felt. That was VERY hard for me. If I am in pain I have a hard time keeping that to myself. The bright lights were too much sometimes, and it was hard to work in an office building in the summer when I wanted to be outside in the sunshine. It’s good for us and my body needs it. It is definitely easier to take care of myself at home and do what I need to do. If it’s sunny, I can drop what I’m doing and go outside. If I need to make a smoothie or have some tea, I can anytime. I can’t make all the things I want to make if I’m at work all the time. At home I make bread once/week, homemade granola sometimes, I experiment with different foods. I was able to keep up with the garden and I cooked pumpkins to make pumpkin puree. These are things that would be much harder to do if I had to work too. Sure, they could be done. But my time would be filled up from morning to night and I would not have that much energy. My spoons would be long gone! And I wouldn’t have time to blog about all these things either.
Fibromyalgia at Home:
There is more physical work at home for sure that does get to me at times but I feel like it is good to keep moving and keep busy. I don’t think about the pain and exercise is good. When my kids fight it gives me bad anxiety. I usually just separate them but that’s hard sometimes too. It is much easier to keep up with the housework at home. I have all week to do what I normally tried to cram into the weekend. And vacuuming alone can be a lot of work, so I like to do that one day and do other stuff the next day. Spread it out so I don’t suffer as much. I can also do what I need to for my health. If I need to sit down, I can. If I need to move around, I can. At work, I was stuck sitting. But at home I never feel like I can take a nap or have too much down-time, like I thought I would be able to do. There’s always something to do around here and it really is like you are never leaving your job! I have guilt too, for not being the one to bring in money to support our family. So I try to save money wherever I can. And I always make sure the important things are done. Dishes, dinner, kids are taken care of, etc.
Home in the Summer – In the summer, we are a lot more active. I try to get things done at home in the morning so that we can do what we want to do in the afternoon. Keeping a schedule is harder. I might say Monday is laundry day but really, it takes me all week to get it all done. We are a lot more relaxed in the summer. We just eat when we are hungry instead of scheduled times. We get up late and I always said I am going to set an alarm so I can have at least an hour before the kids get up, but no. Never happened. As you know, mornings with Fibro are very hard. So we would get up, do our own thing for a bit, have breakfast, do a chore and some kind of schoolwork. We made a chart for Monday – Friday that has a chore, schoolwork, and a life lesson. (More on this below.) Then do what we want to do for the afternoon. Maybe go to the pool, park, ride bikes, just play outside, go visit someone, go on the boat with daddy when he gets home. I get a lot more exercise in the summer and sunshine! I feel better because of that. It’s a lot harder to blog in the summer than winter for sure! 😉 We are just very busy so I was trying to do at least 1 post/week.
Home in the Winter – Well, I assumed everything would be easier in the Winter because we wouldn’t be so busy. I thought I would be able to get projects done around here, more cleaning, and more blog posts. My Fibro is a lot worse in the Winter. There are days I barley get anything done and look forward to the next time I can sit down. It also didn’t help that I got off of a natural supplement I was taking. No energy, major Fibro Fog all the time, some kind of pain all the time, anxiety if something comes up that is more for me to worry about or to have to do. Family functions, school activities, etc. The holidays were insane. So, I can barely function. I do the minimum possible and projects just start piling up again. Then I only take care of extra stuff when I really have to. I tried doing some kind of exercise each day hoping it would help but I think I pushed myself too hard and it had the opposite affect. I am more depressed too. So I get up and focus on my daughter first. Making sure she gets ready, has her breakfast, and we make her lunch. Then we go out to the bus stop with the dog. After she leaves, my son and I have breakfast and some quiet time so I can get on the computer and check messages, write blog posts, do my work. I was also doing my exercise, the dog has to be taken out several times, we have lunch, we try to take the dog on a walk every day, we go grocery shopping once/week, there’s dishes to do every day, laundry, cleaning, bills to pay, you get the idea. 😉
Chore Chart (from Summer): We did this in the summer and do still have chores during the school-year but not as much. It’s hard enough trying to get dinner done, my daughter’s homework (that we spend a lot of time on sometimes), her Art class is after school once/week, and then all the usual bedtime stuff, with a small amount of time to play. Our chore chart is for Monday – Friday in the summer, but you can do this all year long if you want, and consists of a chore, schoolwork, and a life lesson. This was nothing fancy. We don’t have a working printer right now so we just made this by hand. I did not spend a lot of time on it but you could make pictures and everything. I’m not very artistic lol.
- Chores – The chores consist of sweeping, dishes, vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the bathroom, wipe counters and the kitchen table. Of course each kid might have a different chore depending on their age. Tyler (4, at the time) can do a lot of things but he is shorter and it’s harder for him to push a big vacuum than it is for Kailey (8, at the time). There are other chores that they do sometimes too like change the cat and dog’s water each day and make sure they have food, put their clothes away, put toys away, clean their rooms, help put groceries away, water the garden, etc.
- Schoolwork – The schoolwork consists of writing, math, counting $, shapes & colors (fun for Kailey and learning for Tyler), telling time (Kailey), and reading (Tyler). Kailey is to read every weeknight before bed.
- Life Lessons – The life lessons consist of tying their shoes (Kailey has this mastered now but sometimes I have her teach Tyler and that helps me out), a fire drill, cooking lesson, earthquake drill, and anything else I can think of. Maybe going over some family rules, what to do if a stranger comes up to you, when and how to dial 911, etc.
We didn’t always follow exactly what the chore chart said. Sometimes we didn’t need to dust so we did something else. Or we would swap a chore with a different day. Basically we just did what needed to be done. This really helped me stay on track too and get things done. Otherwise I might say, ‘I really need to do this’ and forget and move on to something else. We did the Chore Chart in the morning before the kids were allowed to go outside to play with their friends in the summer. During the school-year, Kailey is at school so things are a little different. When she gets home, she has to do a chore and her homework but it really depends on the weather. We don’t have a lot of nice days here in Washington during the school-year. If it’s sunny out, I’m going to let her play outside when she gets home and do her chore and homework later. But like I said, this is rare. It’s usually raining or at least cloudy in the Fall/Winter. And Tyler is helping me during the day with things like unloading the dishwasher (the silverware mostly), helping put groceries away, he likes to help make the bread, do some juicing, and other things I make, he will sweep sometimes with a little broom. And he does preschool activities.
So there you go. This is my view of working vs. being home and how it effected my Fibro. A lot of people ask how Fibro is while working and how it is at home. Obviously not everyone has a choice to be home. I am not really sure which is better for Fibro. There are challenges with both. I knew that I really wanted to be home. Now that I have been home for a while, there are some good things about going back to work but the thought of managing work and home gives me a lot of anxiety. I hope that I can continue to stay home and do what I love to do. Tyler will start Kindergarten in the Fall but it will only be for half a day. I am still planning to stay home and use that time that he is gone for the blog or anything else I need to get done without any distractions. We shall see what the future holds. I’m not going to rule anything out. 😀