15 Genius Ideas from D-Parents (and Kids!)

Try one of these brilliantly simple life hacks discovered by other T1D moms, dads, and kids to help make managing your child’s type 1 diabetes—along with the rest of your day—a little easier.

    1. Not Just for Nappies

      “In case you haven’t noticed, diaper bags have come a long way since the days of quilted bags covered in pink or blue baby animals! My secret for staying organized as a D-mom—and staying in style—is the looks-like-a-designer-purse diaper bag I use. It has storage pockets to keep all our supplies organized, a built-in cooler compartment for snacks or insulin, and plenty of room for my wallet and phone. I get so many compliments on it from women who don’t have babies and other moms who don’t have a child with diabetes!”
      —Maggie, Houston, mom of 8-year-old Evan

    2. Board Meeting

      “With three boys diagnosed with diabetes, I find it’s hard to keep track of blood sugar trends. To remedy this, I’ve hung a whiteboard in the hallway. We write all the nighttime numbers on the board for several days and then analyze the numbers on the weekend. Writing the number down helps us take ownership of the number. And erasing it when we’re done is completely therapeutic!”
      —Meri, San Francisco, blogger at OurDiabeticLife.com and mom of 16-year-old Jack, 12-year-old Ben, and 10-year-old Luke (each of whom has type 1)

    3. The Just-for-Highs Toy

      “What’s the worst thing about having type 1 diabetes? For Kaitlyn, the answer is definitely having to adjust meals according to blood sugar readings. The look on her face when she tests herself and gets a high reading is enough to make anyone feel sorry for her. I put my mind to work on what I could do. I was wandering through the toy section at one of my favorite stores, and it hit me! In front of me was a box of something called Sticky Mosaics®. I thought, ‘Wouldn’t this be the perfect thing for Kaitlyn to work on while she waits for her blood sugar to come down?’ A couple days later, she had a high. The frustrated look came over her face, but when I pulled out the fun craft activity, her face lit up! I explained to her that she could only work on this when she has high blood sugar and we’re waiting a little while for her to come back into range. Kaitlyn had a complete attitude reversal.
      Kim, Southern California, mom of Kaitlyn

    4. Bookends of the Day

      “One thing that helps save my sanity is the concept of having nice clean ‘bookends’ to my day. This idea came as a flash of inspiration last summer. I had two kids at the house, and as a mom I was pretty frazzled. I decided that I needed to concentrate on the bookends of my day—the morning and the evening. The rest of the day could (and invariably would) be a complete mess, but if I could have solace for even a few minutes each morning and at bedtime, I could be a happy mom. I find that the concept of ‘bookends’ can apply to diabetes management, too. It works well for me to really fine-tune the amount of insulin for the dinner bolus. If we get an in-range preliminary bedtime number, the nights are generally much smoother. This leads usually to an in-range morning number. The fact that James begins and ends each day with in-range numbers does a lot to help us feel like we’re in control!”
      Jen, Southern California, mom of James

    5. Phone It In

      “My kids all self-manage their diabetes at school, and each one carries a cell phone so they can text me blood sugars if they’re high or low. Then they tell me what they will be doing to correct the number. This has become a way for my kids to manage diabetes without it disrupting their day.”
      —Tina, Seattle, blogger at StickWithItSugar.com and mom of 14-year-old “Sweetstuff,” 12-year-old “Middles,” and 10-year-old “Sugarboy” (each of whom has type 1)

    6. Cool Reminder

      “To make our son more independent in his eating, we’ve been on a quest to teach him how to estimate carb counts in his food choices. So far, the most successful method we’ve come up with is to put pictures of a serving size of each of his go-to foods on a piece of poster board along with the carb count. The poster is on the refrigerator, right at his eye level, so he can easily check what he’s taking against the chart. It’s really helped!”
      —Brenda, San Francisco, mom of 11-year-old Matt

    7. The Big Black Bag

      “It seems like my kids are collecting candy almost every day of the week. They get it in Sunday school, at scout meetings, in their classrooms, at birthday parties, and from the cashiers at the grocery store. So we’ve come up with a solution where the kids surrender their candy as soon as they get it. It goes into my big black bag, from which they can get it back at our weekly Friday movie nights—each kid gets three pieces of candy from the bag to eat while watching the movie. I love that we no longer have to stress about the odd piece of candy that might come at a very inconvenient time (while James’ blood sugar is high or right before dinner, etc.). The kids hand over their candy throughout the week without any reservations—they KNOW they’ll see it again within a week.”
      Jen, Southern California, mom of James

    8. Upcycled Supplies

      “I use plastic test strip vials for art supply storage. They’re great for keeping tiny beads and sequins under control. I’ve even used them as glitter shakers by filling the vials with glitter and then poking holes in the lid with a thick sewing needle so the sparkly stuff shakes out a little at a time.”
      —Janet, Tulsa, Okla., mom of an 8-year-old daughter

    9. Sibling Care Package

      “Our son Trevor was diagnosed just a few months after his sister Maddie was born. I’m at home all day with both kids, and it can be difficult keeping Maddie from feeling jealous and acting out when Trevor has a high or low and I need to give him most of my attention. To solve this, I put together a special box of toys for Maddie to play with only during those times when my focus must be on Trevor. Because she views the box as a treat, the toys keep her engaged, and she seems to forget that I am even in the room! When Trevor is feeling better, I make sure to follow up with Maddie by giving her a few extra cuddles at bedtime.”
      —Amanda, Bolingbrook, Ill., mom of 6-year-old Trevor

    10. The Pre-Dinner Platter

      “We don’t have three square meals at our house—we have four. What is the extra meal, you might ask? Afternoon snack. And it’s a true meal in this household! The kids are REALLY hungry at pick-up time, so this is the best time of the day to fill them up on their healthiest food options. I set out a platter of foods that are ‘free’ (carb-wise) or almost free—cheese cubes or cold cuts—to eat while I prepare the rest of the snack. This gets some of the most basic kid-friendly staples into them quickly, and I love that James can (for once) eat without thinking about counting carbs or asking permission! Then I usually add some fruit, some healthy bread, and some kind of spread. It allows me to be more adventurous in trying new dinner recipes; because the kids aren’t starving, dinner is full of foods that adults like to eat. We can teach them polite ways to try new foods, but it’s OK if they end up not really loving the butternut squash soup.”
      Jen, Southern California, mom of James

    11. The Treat Pass

      “We decided to have a spur-of-the-moment ice cream sundae night with the kids. I asked Kaitlyn to test her blood sugar, and her number was quite high. She and I both knew that it was most certainly not a good time for ice cream. ‘I hate diabetes!’ she screamed. I was trying to figure out what I could do for her to make her feel better. I printed out several cards that said ‘Kaitlyn’s Treat Pass.’ I gave her one and explained that she could use this special pass whenever she wanted to get whatever treat she wanted, as long as her blood sugar was in range. ‘Does that mean I can have ice cream for breakfast?’ she asked. Yep! ‘Or cookies right before dinner?’ Yep! ‘Deal,’ she said. It has worked amazingly well. If there is ever a time she doesn’t get to eat something when I’m allowing it for the other kids, she gets her pass. She then turns it in whenever she wants, and the other kids get really jealous!”
      Kim, Southern California, mom of Kaitlyn

    12. The Cupcake Stash

      “With over 20 kids in a typical classroom, it seems like there is a birthday celebration every other week. All we want for our children is for them to feel normal and participate in these celebrations like their classmates. Because my child has food allergies in addition to diabetes, I bake up a batch of homemade cupcakes that meet her dietary needs a couple of times each school year. I send them in to the nurse, who keeps them in the clinic freezer. She takes one out about 30 minutes before a classroom celebration, and it’s thawed and ready to go.”
      —Leighann, Midwest, blogger at D-Mom.com and mom of Quinn

    13. Bound to Help

      “Our elementary school has about 500 students and only one school nurse. To help streamline the process of taking care of our 9-year-old son Liam, I created a daily checklist of items like blood sugar checks and meter readings, snack times, time/amounts of insulin given, any supplies running low, and a place for both of us to leave extra notes. I then photocopied this 180 times and had it bound as a spiral notebook with a bright red cover and our child’s name and photo on it. The nurse can quickly fill it out, and it’s our son’s responsibility to take it home with him each night (and bring it back the next day). She has told me on several occasions how helpful it is having this kind of quick and easy communication tool. I am happy to help her out in any way I can.”
      —Darnella, Atlanta, Ga., mom of Liam

    14. Fantasy Diabetes

      “When my 12-year-old son Justin started middle school, it was frustrating to him that his friends would run to the cafeteria and he was left to test his blood sugar alone before joining them. Justin is a huge sports fan, so in an effort to engage them, he created a game called ‘Fantasy Diabetes,’ modeled after Fantasy Football. Fourteen of his friends signed up to play. Twice a week, before snack, they would gather around my son and take a guess as to what his blood sugar would be. Guesses were recorded, and points were awarded based on how close to the actual number they were. This game allowed Justin to educate his friends about type 1 diabetes and gave him confidence in taking care of his health. As the kids became more aware about what high and low blood sugar meant, they even started suggesting he test his levels if he didn’t appear to look well, saving him several times from going too low or too high.”
      —Lori, mom of Justin

    15. DIY Pump Pack

      “Being from California and having a swimming pool in our backyard, we go through A LOT of swimsuits! They’re always getting stretched out and needing to be thrown away, so when Kaitlyn had an idea for how to repurpose them instead, I was all for it! She came to me with one of her old pump packs that we absolutely love. She noticed that the fabric used in the pack was the same material that swimsuits are made of. She got so excited and said, ‘Mom! Let’s make pump packs out of my old swimsuits!’ This is what we came up with: Cut a strip about 8 to 9 inches wide across the swimsuit, fold the strip in half and then in half again, so that your band is now about 2 inches wide and four layers thick. Holding the four layers of fabric together, sew two seams from the top to the bottom of the band, about 5 inches apart, to create a pocket for the pump. That’s it!”
      Kim, Southern California, mom of Kaitlyn

 

Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring.

Sticky Mosaics is a registered trademark of The Orb Factory Ltd. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

 

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