When it comes to the day-to-day of type 1 diabetes care, some of the best bits of wisdom come from fellow parents who have been-there, done-that. From blood sugar checks to sibling rivalry, here are a few moms’ favorite solutions for diabetes-related challenges big and small.
Ease Site Changes
“Our young daughter, Faith, who usually takes diabetes in stride, recently started melting down when it was time for a pump site change. No matter what we tried — soothing, bribing, consoling — she’d scream and cry until we were done. One day at my wit’s end, I asked her if she’d rather put her pump site in by herself. To my surprise, she calmed down and agreed. Minutes later, after just a little bit of guidance and encouragement, she’d inserted her own infusion set without a single tear! I think it helped Faith to finally feel like she had some control over what was happening. She has happily inserted her own sites ever since — with much supervision, of course!”
–Sarah, Tyler, Texas, mom of Faith
Make Checks More Convenient
“With three sons with type 1 — ages 15, 11, and 5 — checking blood sugars all the time can be a bummer. The best way we’ve found to fight the urge to slide a little is to make checks as convenient as possible. We keep glucometers everywhere — on the breakfast table in a heart-shaped bowl, in a container next to the kids’ TV, in a box in the living room, and in a leather box on the hall counter. Not having to stop what you’re doing and go into the other room to test makes all the difference. I also try to check the boys’ sugars before they wake up in the morning. It’s nice to start the day off without having to announce your blood sugar number to your mother.”
–Meri, San Francisco, Calif., mom of Jack, Ben, and Luke
Relieve Sibling Jealousy
“Our 4-year-old 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 Trevor
Take the Pain out of Injections
“Our endo gave us the idea of letting our 8-year-old son punch a pillow whenever a shot hurt, but it didn’t really seem to help that much. One day, I was cleaning out our kitchen junk drawer and found a stress ball that I think had been a gift from someone at work. The next time it was time for a shot, we gave the stress ball to Dylan, and it worked like magic! He was so busy squeezing and pulling that he didn’t even realize what I was doing. We now have a whole basket of stress balls in the house, and one at the nurse’s office at school, even though shots don’t really bother him anymore. Stress balls are very easy to make. Just use a sieve to pour about 3/4 cup of flour into a heavy-weight balloon. Squeeze out the air and tie. Instant stress relief!
–Christina, Newport News, Va., mom of Dylan
Help Kids Transition to Self-Care
“As my 9-year-old son becomes mature enough to take on some of his diabetes tasks, I’ve learned that the best way to help him become more independent is to just stop and wait when there’s a decision to be made. Yes, the good old rule of counting to 10! At first, it took great effort on my part not to immediately decide and act, especially after years of being completely in charge of his treatment decisions. I even had to put my hand over my mouth to stop myself from speaking. But soon enough I had trained myself to say, “What do you think we should do?” and then wait for an answer. I am proud to say that Caleb’s decisions about how to proceed are almost always on target. This one simple change in my behavior has had a huge impact on my son’s growth in self-care.”
–Lorraine, Danbury, Conn., mom of Caleb
Find the Fun
“In our family, we try to make humor and playfulness a part of everything we do. After all, who wants to live life dwelling on the negative? Right after my son’s diagnosis, my father started a guessing game that will probably stick with us forever. Whenever it’s time to test blood sugar, Grandpa yells out his guess as to what my son’s number will be. Then, my son tells us his guess just before the meter registers the number. Often, the entire room will venture a guess. Whoever comes closest gets bragging rights — until the next test, that is. It takes the attention off of the actual test itself and onto the game. And later on, my son will always remember this special game he plays with his grandfather.”
–Dena, Frisco, Texas, mom of Reid
Get Through Burnout
“When our 12-year-old son was diagnosed with type 1 a few years ago, our diabetes educator gave us a great tip to keep a spoon in the freezer to use as a mini ice pack before shots (the cold helps to numb the injection site). This worked well in the beginning, but we became so comfortable with shots that we didn’t really need the spoon anymore. Then our son went through a rough patch a few months and became very burned out about his care. He complained about everything, and suddenly, shots hurt again. After nothing seemed to work, I remembered the spoon, and gave it a try. Worked like a charm! We’re thankful this phase has passed, but the spoon is still in the freezer, just in case!”
–Samantha, Albany, N.Y., mom of Matthew
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.