I am sure that many of you are thinking, "Date night? No big deal." But, leaving a severely allergic child with a babysitter is a big deal. It takes preparation and planning. Although it takes a little work to leave our angels with another person, it is good for them and us. Our children learn to express their needs to other adults and to manage those needs while still in a safe environment. And, mom and dad get a deserved break from their often restrictive routines.
So, as we prepare to go out for the evening, here are some tips that I hope will help you the next time you leave the kids behind.
The Babysitter: More and more people are living farther from their close relatives. If you are like us, you can't just send your angels to Grandma's house for the evening and finding that perfect sitter is not easy. I am blessed with friends who have watched my daughter during emergencies and the very occasional Date Night. Swapping with an informed friend is a great way to save money and keep the time safe. Whoever you choose, be sure that this person is prepared to give medicines, administer an Epi-pen, and call 911 if necessary.
Angel's Handbook: I put together a handbook which I keep in a number of locations at my angel's school as well as in a designated place at my home. The book has a clear cover so that emergency numbers are easy to read on that first page. It also has a list of:
- do's and don'ts of caring for my allergic child
- potential reactions and how they should be treated
- language my child or I might use when talking about allergies or a reaction
- food and environmental allergens
- asthma triggers (if applicable)
- allergies to medicines
- instructions that paramedics may need in an emergency
Activities: Be sure to let the sitter know what activities your child is allowed to do while you are not at home. For example, if your child is allergic to wheat, play dough may not be a safe activity while you are not home.
Prepare your angels: Have a talk with your child well before the sitter arrives and things get hectic for the evening. Go over the do's and don'ts. Remind them what language to use if they are not feeling well. Tell them what food you have left for them and show them where you are keeping their emergency medicines.
Make it special: I hope that, if you are reading this, you are planning for a fun night out. That being said, why not make the time special for your angels too. Set a nice table, cook a special meal, leave a new game....whatever it is, this time can be as special an evening for them as it is for you!
By preparing for our time away from home, we can all relax and have a great time!