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Joanne Chapman

School’s out: tips for summer fun from an MS mummy

Joanne Chapman

Joanne Chapman lives with MS – and a toddler. These are her tips for enjoying the summer holidays with your little ones.

Keep cool

I love the sun, but summer can feel like a double-edged sword as heat and humidity bring out my MS. Keeping cool is essential to look after little man. So I avoid being out in the midday sun, find shade, and wear lightweight, breathable layers with a hat.

Water cools. Little man's paddling pool is entertainment, but is mummy's foot spa too! I find putting cool water, water spray or ice packs over my wrists, feet or neck (especially before bed), helps me cool down.

Drinks, lollies and yoghurt are hydrating and yummy. Air conditioning or ceiling fans and closed curtains keep indoor spaces cool.

Don’t feel guilty

Feeling guilty for not being able to enjoy outdoor fun is usual for MSers. Try not to beat yourself up if you have to change your plans. Improvise, like indoor picnics or garden time instead of day trips. When out and about, avoiding crowds and knowing where the nearest loo is can reduce stress.

MS is like having a battery that can't be fully charged. Prioritise and rest around special occasions, like holidays or weddings. Rest won't make MS fatigue disappear but it helps. Doing low key, near-home activities in the week may give you more energy for the weekend, especially if the forecast looks good.

Have a plan B

With school out, you have freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want. But this can be tiring – and expensive. As I can't predict the weather, my MS or my little man, I have list of things to do – free or not, rain or shine.

Limit travel stress

Travelling can be stressful and exhausting, especially as little man doesn't understand time. A well-chosen travel time (little man's sleep time, not rush hour) and handy essentials (snacks, drinks, toys, books, music) help stress and boredom.

To limit travel exhaustion in the car, rest before and after, conserve energy by napping, plan stops (food, drink, loo and leg-stretching) and restrict sun by sitting away from sunlight or putting shades on the windows.

Treat yourself

Summer can be tiring, but treats can help you recover. Whether it's topping up your fake tan or a fab new hair cut, do what works for you. Remember summer comes once a year, listen to yourself, and enjoy!

Joanne lives in York with her husband and their ‘little man’. She started blogging as a way to connect with other parents with long term conditions. You can read more from her by visiting her blog at

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