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How to Leave Your Food Allergy Little with Someone Else for the First Time When You're Desperate for a Break
It took me a long time before I was ready to leave my food allergy littles home with somebody else. I didn’t feel like I had anybody that really understood how to manage food allergies properly; or maybe I just didn’t trust that they could.
I sometimes wonder if things might have been easier if I would have thought it through using a series of steps instead of through a lens of worry. Because of this and because I know this is a struggle many food allergy mamas have, I thought I would share a list of easy steps I would use today if I could do it over again. Hopefully this helps you in a way that I didn’t have when my kids were littler.
Keep in mind, these tips will work for any length of break, from 1 hour to a week!
So to start, think about whether there’s someone that you can safely leave your child with. To determine this, I ask two questions:
Is there someone who is responsible enough to watch your kiddo if your child DIDN’T have a food allergy?
If yes, then continue with question 2.
2. Is this same person WILLING to learn about food allergy management? They don’t need to be an expert, they just need to have a desire to sit down and actually spend some time learning the basics of food allergies.
If you answer yes, then you can continue reading to learn what to teach them so they can take care of your child.
If you answered no, then you may want to reconsider leaving your child with them FOR RIGHT NOW. It doesn’t mean that it will never happen though. People change and minds change so don’t give up!
Note: If you haven’t considered non-family babysitters; now’s the time (especially if it’s for a shorter breakthat is less than a weekend). You might be able to find a really responsible teen who has a food allergy themselves OR a sibling with a food allergy. Keep your eyes and ears peeled, because you never know!
When you’ve found that person and you’re ready to book some time away, here’s how to leave your child with somebody else so you can take a well-deserved break.
Get them to take the 30 minute Anaphylaxis in the Community online course.
This is a FREE course AND perfect for parents, caregivers and teachers. I highly recommend it because it only takes 30 minutes, and it’s interactive so you can tell if they’re absorbing the information instead of just getting a bunch of information thrown at them.
2. Teach them your child’s anaphylaxis emergency plan.
Giving caregivers an easy to understand way to know if anaphylaxis is occurring and how to manage it is super important. My favourite anaphylaxis emergency plan template is found on the FARE website. It lists the symptoms and what to watch for very clearly and is easy to understand. Hang the emergency plan where it’s easy to see and use (likely in the kitchen).
3. Teach them how to use the epinephrine and other meds if required.
One of the most important things is that they know how to manage anaphylaxis if it happens. Now that they’ve taken the course and you’ve talked about the emergency plan, round out the training with a practice using an expired epinephrine injector.
My favourite way is to do a practice run on an orange. Go through some scenarios (some where they don’t need to use the epinephrine and some where they do). Then get THEM to decide if they should administer the epinephrine to the orange, and if so, then let them actually do it. Understanding how it feels to administer the epinephrine is so helpful and can increase confidence so they are less likely to hesitate in the real situation.
The last thing we want is for the caregiver to hesitate and NOT give the epinephrine when needed. Encourage them to feel empowered that you trust that they will know when to use it and if they feel it needs to be done, you would rather they err on the side of caution. If they know you trust them, they will feel more empowered to do it if the time came. We don’t want them to be afraid to help our kids quickly.
After they’ve tried it, make sure you put the REAL epinephrine in a place where the caregiver can easily find and use it.
If your child has an asthma inhaler or other medications, now is the time to go over these with the caregiver too.
4. Organize your pantry and fridge for safety.
Place foods that are not safe in a higher up shelf, out of reach or I recommend removing them from the house completely. The less they have to worry about mixing up, the better. If you keep unsafe foods in the house, make sure the caregiver knows these are not to be given to your child.
5. Go over the rules.
The idea is to make things AS EASY as possible for your caregiver while keeping your child safe. Because of this, you may want to consider a few guidelines. For example, no bringing outside food to the house while you’re away (even if you plan a playdate and the mom wants to help by providing a snack).
No going to a play place where you’re unsure if the surroundings are free from allergens.
Expert Tip: make sure to leave a list of activities you’re confident they can do safely either in your home or outside so they don’t feel stuck while you’re away. This can include simple things like playing in the back yard, your child’s favourite books and games or a list of movies they can watch together.
6. Plan and prepare a menu so you know they’ll be eating healthy and safely while you’re gone.
Does your caregiver like to cook? If so, this may be as simple as leaving a meal plan and safe ingredients for them.
If they don’t like to cook, you may want to leave pre-cooked meals. I know this may seem a little daunting, but don’t skip the trip because of this!! By using cook once, eat twice strategies for a week or two before the trip, you can easily cook enough for everyone at home while you’re enjoying time away.
Expert tip: Use meal planning to create and leave a detailed plan of what your caregiver can make each morning, noon and night.
Use meal planning to stock your pantry and fridge with everything they’ll need from snacks, breakfasts and dinners.
7. Have fun.
The hard work is over. Once you’ve educated your caregiver and prepped your pantry and stocked your fridge, it’s time to focus on you. I know it’s not easy to go through a weekend or even a day without a few worries about your little(s) back home; but if you’ve done the prep work, then you don’t need to worry. All will be well! Take a much-needed break from the mental load of being an allergy mom. You deserve it and it will make you a better mom too.
Leaving our kids with food allergies with another caregiver is hard, but with some precautions it is doable!
Does this help you? Let me know what you learned from this post and if you’ll be taking a weekend break sometime soon!