When a child is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, it can be financially draining. But it can also be a drain on time. We do ourselves a disservice when we don’t really take into account how much time diabetes management really takes. Everyone knows that when you don’t budget your money properly, it can lead to a lot of stress. But we don’t always realize that the same goes for budgeting our time.
Part of me likes to be optimistic; I’ve been managing diabetes for a long time, and it does often feel easy and natural now. Testing blood sugar and counting carbs have become my “normal.” At the surface it doesn’t seem to take a lot of time. But it does take small amounts of time frequently, and it’s good to keep that in mind.
Some of these small tasks can take longer than we think. For example, there’s the time it takes to change an infusion set. When James was first given an insulin pump, we used to set aside an HOUR to do a site change. It never really took that long, but we were so careful and deliberate that it would take a significant chunk of time. Now I’m more apt to give myself too little time. A site change really does only take a few minutes. But I’m prone to setting aside as little as five minutes for the whole process. In reality, gathering the supplies, rounding up the child, and dealing with distractions means that giving myself only five minutes is not sufficient. I’d be better served by 10 or 15. I find often that in the course of changing his set, I discover that we’re low on a certain key supply. If I give myself enough time, I can start logging that or make the call or email that I need to make so that we’re never too low on supplies.
Also, remember that it takes time to call the endocrinology team with any questions. And then there is the unfortunately frequent struggle of haggling with the insurance company over coverage of supplies. Failing to account for these drains on our time is part of the reason that diabetes can feel really stressful. Give them the proper space on the planner and it feels less overwhelming.
There are other tasks that, when budgeted for, lead to more organized and peaceful diabetes management too. I like to set aside my “hour of power” in the afternoon when James gets home from school to charge his devices, change his infusion set, and look over his numbers. I don’t know that it often takes me a full hour to do all of these things, but by setting aside that time, I have the opportunity to make sure the other 23 hours in the day are organized and run well.
I think that blocking out periods of time in our calendars and planners is important. I think it helps us to strategize and prioritize, and in some ways it gives us MORE time to concentrate on the things we want and need to do, because we are being realistic.
On a related note, we need to budget mentally and emotionally for the time and stress that diabetes management takes on our lives and be more forgiving of ourselves when we have a hard day — one with an unexpected illness or financial setback or a diabetes-related emergency.
Budgeting our time and being aware of the emotional strain of diabetes might not sound terribly fun. However, I find that allowing for enough time to do the things that keep our kids healthy and happy leads to greater peace in our schedules. It leads to less frantic days and more grace with ourselves. Maybe those things aren’t “fun,” but taking care of ourselves physically and emotionally is not unlike making sure we pay our bills first in our financial budgets. Once we’ve done the most important things, we know that the leftover “fun money” or “free hours” are truly free and fun!
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 1 diabetes. 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. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.