Surviving Summer Break as a Parent with Migraine

School’s out for summer—don’t let your migraine stay in session

Being a parent is a job without set hours, vacations, or sick days. Ordinarily, moms and dads are happy to have this responsibility in exchange for the privilege of having a child. But when you have migraine, looking after anyone else’s needs is almost impossible. Kids also seem to have a knack for finding the most annoying, loud toys and TV shows as soon as you start feeling the all-too-familiar signs of a migraine attack. With school out for the summer, the dog days of heat and humidity straight ahead, and your kids at home and in need of entertainment, it’s understandable that a parent with migraine may be ready to panic. However, there are some steps you can take to ensure you all get through the summer break intact and feeling refreshed and ready for a new academic year come September.

A survival guide for managing your migraine over summer break

Be prepared: Make a migraine emergency kit

Packing a kit full of supplies to cope with a migraine attack is essential if you plan to be away from home while ferrying kids to activities or going on day trips and longer vacations. Make sure you have a snack, water, your medication, contact information for friends and family, and a taxi number in case you can’t drive.

Stick to a routine

Summer vacation is a chance for kids to kick back and get away from all the routines and schedules of the school year. However, it’s wise to keep children, especially the little ones, on some sort of schedule. Maintaining meal and sleep times for the whole family provides structure, predictability, and staves off common migraine triggers before they can develop.

Remember that sleep matters

Fun activities, BBQs, and road trips can all turn into late nights. It is imperative that you get enough sleep as a lack of adequate sleep can lead to a migraine attack. When children don’t get enough sleep, they can become frustrated and ill-tempered, which is a sure-fire way to trigger a migraine in their parents. Everyone in the house needs quality sleep in order to function properly.

Keep out of the sun

The sun’s powerful rays can feel great on our bodies after a long winter, but they can also be very dangerous. Getting overheated is a common trigger for some patients with migraine. Besides too much sun or unprotected exposure can cause skin damage, heat stroke and even fainting spells. Don’t leave home without your sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, and plenty of sunblock with high SPF.

Share the responsibilities

If you have a partner, share the childcare responsibilities fairly. Stress can trigger a migraine, and if you are working, taking care of the kids, organizing programs and activities and driving them to clubs, the strain can start to take its toll. Also consider signing your kids up for summer camp and classes. They will have a great time and you will be able to build a little break into your summer vacation to make it more manageable.

Don’t neglect diet and exercise

Summer plans tend to shake up our normal schedules, and our diets and workout routines tend to be the first things we neglect. You grab a quick bite on the road rather than pack lunches, or substitute an afternoon at the park for a cardio routine. Take the opportunity to use all the beautiful fresh grown produce and make healthful meals, enjoyed as a family. Keep snacks on you at all times to ward off hunger, which can also trigger a migraine.

Kids welcome the summer months with excitement, and you should too. Instead of cringing at the idea of bored kids without the structure of a school day, stick to some family routines, keep out of the sun, get enough sleep, eat well and exercise. Your summer will be full of fun, sun and hopefully migraine-free.

For more tips on managing your migraine, visit the American Migraine Foundation resource library. If you have specific questions, contact us directly.