How A Trick To Trick My Migraine Turned Into A Fun Family Ritual

Last updated: November 2022

When my migraines became daily, my son was three years old. My days were filled with caring for him, wondering if he’d nap (so I could too), and hoping everyone would be asleep if I got a migraine. I had so little control over my head pain that I looked for ways to limit my triggers. One trick was if I felt a migraine coming on, I did my best to take it easy. Not a simple feat with an active 3-year-old occasionally using my bed as his trampoline, but that’s how our "Pajama Days" started.

How has migraine changed how I parent?

On days my migraines left me alone, my son and I would take long walks, trips to the park, or have playdates with friends. I wanted to be that parent that fed my little one’s curiosity by keeping him out and active. However, more days than not my migraines kept me close to home. It’s not like my migraines were a new thing. I’d been dealing with their episodic pattern for years, but chronic migraines and motherhood required a whole new diaper bag of tricks. I was making these up as I went along.

What did we do when I felt an attack starting?

When my body first started giving me those pre-migraine twinges, I knew if I could take it easy today, I might avoid a full-on migraine tomorrow. This is when I declared a day where we stayed dressed in pajamas. On these days, my little guy and I would indulge in a little too much television and order pizza for every meal if we wanted. We’d also find quieter methods of playing, like picking out a stack of books or favorite board games and bringing them into a blanket fort that we’d built — all while wearing our PJs.

Was I letting my son down?

My son loved Pajama Days. He loved the idea of a day we built and created together, but I struggled with the feeling I was letting him down. I knew these times meant I felt too unwell to provide my kid with the socialization his growing brain needed. Sure, he was having fun, but wouldn’t he have more fun out with friends? I must be disappointing him like I’d done countless times with my own friends when I’d canceled because of migraine interference. I didn’t want to fail my little guy too.

What was I teaching him?

That’s when I’d take a deep breath and remember why we were wearing our pajamas in the first place. Our PJs were a reminder we were allowed to take it slow. On Pajama Day, I gave myself permission to care for my son while also caring for myself. It was a day we both learned more about self-care.

What were Pajama Days about for him?

My son began asking for Pajama Days even when I was totally fine. I learned it wasn’t about too much screen time or ordering pizza for breakfast but about spending time together and cultivating our connection. So now my family purposely takes time out for PJ Days to stay connected and save on doing laundry.

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