Managing daily tasks when your child has cancer

PDF download is not available for Arabic and Urdu languages at this time. Please use the browser print function instead

Learn strategies to help you manage daily tasks inbetween caring for your child with cancer.

Key points

  • Understand and communicate your own limits with your family so they know when and where they are needed.
  • Prioritize and plan the tasks the need to be done, and do not be afraid to ask for help from family and friends.

No matter how devoted you are to your child and your family, you just can’t do it all. It can help to prioritize. Accept that some things, such as laundry, yard work, or nightly home-cooked meals, might not happen.

Communicating and working together to figure out how to balance everyone’s needs can help your family adjust to the inevitable changes in your routines. By recognizing your own limits and communicating them to your family, you can avoid getting too run down. This is an opportunity for your family to practice problem-solving together, which will be beneficial throughout the cancer journey.

Prioritize, plan, pace yourself

Keeping life as simple as possible during such an incredibly difficult and complicated time can be helpful for many people. A simple formula for this is the "3 P’s" method.

  1. Focus on what your Priorities are. Do the most important things first. Recognize what doesn’t have to be done immediately (this is not procrastination!). You may need to drop activities that may be somewhat important but aren’t essential, if your time and energy are limited. That is OK! Sometimes, people feel overwhelmed when trying to prioritize a busy and stressful life. If this is the case, you may want to get feedback from people close to you or your child’s health-care team.
  2. Second, once you have a sense of your priorities, make a simple Plan for what you will do. Focus on the most important things first and work through your list in that general order, being flexible as needed. Make sure that your energy is used on the most important things, especially if your time and energy are limited.
  3. Finally, Pace yourself. The cancer journey is more like a marathon than a sprint. You can’t do everything at once, so don’t wear yourself down trying to do that.

Ask for help!

At some point, everyone needs to ask for help. This can come in many forms. Some people are better at providing practical help such as child care, dropping off meals, cleaning the house or helping with groceries. Other people will help you by listening as you talk through your feelings, providing spiritual support, making you laugh or making your other children feel special.

Help comes in all forms

Help can come from a variety of places. Parents who seek and accept help often find it easier to bear the challenges of raising a teen with cancer. Try to look for help from a variety of places such as your spiritual community, extended family, friends, your neighbourhood or your workplace. This can be difficult for people who are accustomed to being independent and looking after themselves. Try to remember that people want to help you and that, in the future, you will likely have the opportunity to help someone else.

Last updated: September 3rd 2019