Books to help your children understand your chronic pain and limitations

Are you having a hard time trying to explain to your children about your chronic pain or illness?

My girls were only 2 & 3 years old when things got really bad and hard for me. I wasn’t able to pick them up anymore and do the things with them that I had been. It was heartbreaking saying no to what were our normal daily routines and watch them get confused and upset.

I trialed different ways to help make it easier, like cuddles and movies in my bed in exchange for playing and going to parks. Explaining my helpful aids that i use to support me daily living, like my walking stick, reachy grabby thing etc. But I wanted to help them to understand more, and not think that anything was their fault or that I was longer interested in playing so much with them.

That first book

One day, a good friend of mine had an author, Julieann Wallace, at her kindergarten doing a visit with the children. My beautiful friend purchased one of her books for my girls. It is called ‘Vanilla Swirl’. It is about a little girl whose mum is sick. It is written from the child’s perspective. It talks about the prospect of hope and curing all the illnesses of the world. This book was a beautiful gesture from my friend, and it gave me the idea to see if there were any more books for children to help explain chronic pain more. Turns out there was!

vanilla swirl by julieann wallace
Vanilla Swirl by Julieann Wallace
vanilla swirl old
Our older copy
signed vanilla swirl
Our older copy, signed by the author for my girls

3 books that helped me explain why my chronic pain left me with limitations as a mum to my girls:

Mommy has to stay in bed – by Annette Rivlin-Gutman

Another book that is written from the child’s perspective that also rhymes which makes it easy to follow and catchy. It covers what what they miss out on but also all the things that they CAN do together still. It also covers emotion relating to how the child feels and how her mother encourages her to feel the emotions. Great for younger kids.

Mommy has to stay in bed by Annette Rivlin-Gutman

Why does mommy hurt? – by Elizabeth M. Christy

This, again, is told from the child’s perspective. He talks about how his mom has chronic pain and can’t always do a lot because of her pain. It goes a little more in depth but is still very child friendly as relatable. It also covers the emotions associated and what they can still do together. We read this one the most when my girls were a bit younger .

Why does mommy hurt by Elizabeth M. Christy
Why does mommy hurt? by Elizabeth M. Christy

How many marbles do you have? – by Melinda Malott

Here is a book that is also a great tool to use along side marbles yourself, to explain each days allocated marbles within your own family. Also written from the child’s perspective, this book talks about his mom using marbles similar to spoons in the spoon theory.

How many marbles do you have by Melinda Malott
How many marbles do you have? by Melinda Malott

An extra ‘feel good’ book

One last extra book that doesn’t talk about pain or illness but instead love and connection is ‘The Invisible String’ by Patrice Karst. We have been reading this book for over 5 years and it has helped with the times I have had to spend away in hospital. It is about two children who are scared during a thunder storm and their mum explains all about the invisible string that connects them and everyone that they love, all the time.

The Invisible String by Patrice Karst
The Invisible String by Patrice Karst

More books out there to choose from

There are more books out there, however these are just the ones that I can personally recommend. Tried and tested,as I own them and have read them with my own children. They helped a LOT with helping my girls understand more. Even though they don’t really remember a time when I wasn’t limited or in pain, picture books are a great visual for kids to relate to and therefore better understand.

Do you have any other books that have helped you explain your chronic illness/pain to your children? We’d love to hear any more reviews!

Michelle xx

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