Living more than 2,000 miles away from family + having a son with multiple severe allergies = next to impossible to get away with the hubby alone.
Lucky for us, we moved closer to family in 2009. So that left only one thing holding us back from getting away. Yup, the allergies. However, even if your child has severe allergies you CAN get away. All it takes is someone you can trust, and some planning and organizing.
This is what I did…
1. Find someone you can trust.
Pay attention to the people around you that take allergies seriously. It may be your parent, sister, neighbor or close freind. They are the ones that call you while in the grocery store to tell you they think they found a food your allergy child can have. They are the ones that invite you over and take the time to cook things allergy free. They are the ones that ask questions about allergies and actually listen to the response because they care. They are the ones that send you recipes because they think they’re allergy free. But most of all…they are the ones that take your childs allergies seriously.
2. Label every single piece of food in the house with a Y for Yes, he can eat it or a N for No, he cannot eat it.
I have been labeling foods for years. I label each and every piece of food after I unpack them from the grocery bags. It takes less than two minutes. Unpack all the food onto the counter, using a permanent marker label all the food near the nutritional label with a big Y or N. Not only is this useful for babysitters but it is also useful for a young child who cannot read difficult ingredients. Our allergy child knows to check EVERYTHING for the big Y.
3. Have the sitter come to you.
Your house is the one that already has the foods marked Y and N. Your house is the one where the epi-pen and benadryl has it’s own home every minute of every day. Your house is where your children will feel safest.
4. Make a menu for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
I made a list of every possible breakfast item that I had in the house. I did the same thing for lunch, dinner and snacks. I didn’t go as far as giving them a strict list of what to feed them each and every day. But I did make it easier for them to know what they COULD make. ie. Breakfast = pancakes (in freezer), banana bread muffins (in freezer), oatmeal, bacon and fruit.
5. Do the grocery shopping yourself.
Using your menu, do the grocery shopping. Make sure everything is labeled Y and N. Also be kind enough to shop for the sitter’s preferences too!
6. Role play with the sitters and your own children with the trainer EpiPen.
This is very important. Make sure your sitters are comfortable with the entire process. Leave a copy of your allergy action plan with the EpiPen. Everyone in your house should have this life saving knowledge memorized!!! Food Allergy Action Plan
7. Leave important materials in one designated space.
I have a cork board in my kitchen where I keep all the allergy info. There is a complete list of all our son’s allergens, a extra copy of his insurance card, a copy of his allergy action plan, a list of emergency numbers, and I keep two EpiPens and a couple of chewable Benadryl on top of the cork board. These items never move. They are always in the same spot so there is never any confusion as to where the items are.
Thanks to my Mom and my Step-Dad, my husband and I had the chance to go away for a few nights recently (New York City with great friends of ours). Other than one night to ourselves last summer, we haven’t been able to get any type of vacation alone since…since… hmmm… since before our youngest was born, probably around 2004 (if you consider having the house to yourself a vacation)…eight whole years ago. WOW! No wonder it felt SOOOOO good!