Did Valentine’s Day remind you of how much you enjoy adult time out of the house?! It did for me! Sharing alone time with my husband is so important to us. Being able to carry a small purse (rather than a bulky bag filled with snacks and Matchbox cars) is a joy and staying out until dark sadly feels wild these days!
But going out for the night while leaving food allergic children at home can be stressful. When it comes to babysitters and keeping your child safe from allergens there are a number of things you can do to minimize your worry and maximize your fun.
- You’ve probably already labeled all the safe food in your pantry (see https://shmallergy.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/food-labels/ if you haven’t).
- Next, I would show each babysitter how to use an EpiPen (see https://shmallergy.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/familiarize-or-refamiliarize-yourself-on-how-to-use-an-epipen/) and physically point out where you keep it and other emergency medication. If you’re home is allergen-free you likely have no need to worry, but it’s worth the time to quickly outline the symptoms of an allergic reaction so the sitter knows what to look for and when/how to react. ***Let them know that if they use the EpiPen, they will need to call 911 immediately — before even calling you.***
- Set your food allergy ground rules. For us, there’s no bringing in any nut, sesame seed or peanut products. In fact, to be welcoming and avoid the worry of foreign allergens coming in, I always find out what my sitters like to eat and make sure we’re stocked with snacks and/or dinner that are appealing to them.
- Try to have the kids’ meals prepared so there’s not a lot of guesswork. If our babysitter is giving our children dinner, for example, I try to have that sitting on a plate ready to microwave or in a tupperware container ready for the oven. Keeping it simple avoids problems, I’ve learned.
- Make yourself available. Supply reachable numbers and encourage each caregiver to use them if they have ANY questions. None are too trite!
- Finally, post emergency contact numbers as well as your address on the refrigerator. Your emergency contacts serve as back up and should be relatively familiar with your child’s allergies and your address could be given to emergency personnel.
You can and should go out once and a while. It’s a refreshing luxury that we all need to indulge in every so often. So, call your most trusted sitter and make some plans!