This last week, my husband and I went on a cruise! We left the kids with their grandma, aunt and uncle, and good friend, so we had nine days on our own. It was a much needed break, and we had a fabulous time. But it was the first time ever that we were completely cut off from communication with them. No texting, email, phone calls — or blood sugar alerts for Kaitlyn, who has type 1 diabetes. We were totally untethered from our normal life.
I remember the last call before we lost phone reception. We were standing on the top of the cruise ship waving goodbye to Miami, giving last-minute “I love you”s and instructions to “be good.” Even though I knew our kids were in really good hands, I was whispering silent prayers that everything would go well. I was almost more worried about our team of caretakers than I was about our kids. It was a lot to ask to have them take all five kids for over a week!
It had already been a long week just getting ready to leave on the cruise. In fact, it took my husband and me about an hour to pack everything we needed for our trip, but it took a week and a half to gather and prep the stuff needed to leave our kids. The list was long: outfits prepped and bundled for each kid for nine days, school lunches packed and carbs counted for Kaitlyn, medical release forms written and signed, daily meds prepped in little bags and stapled to an instruction form, a detailed schedule written out for each day, diabetes instructions typed up, bedding and pillows, extra jackets, pajamas, backpacks, textbooks, sports gear.
And then there was everything else — rides arranged to and from activities, appointments canceled, pet sitting set up, emails sent to all the teachers and school offices, retraining caretakers on diabetes management, plus all the laundry and housework — just to get out the door. As I was getting ready to go, I began to wonder if it was worth it. I thought to myself that perhaps taking the kids on vacation with us would be far easier than leaving them home.
The first day of our cruise, I was a bit of a mess, but when I woke up the next morning, I began to relax. I didn’t have any other choice but to forget everything. There were no questions from home, no blood sugar alerts. I couldn’t even check emails or social media. It was a strange feeling, but as I looked out the door of our balcony and saw the sunrise over the ocean, I realized that this is what real vacation was all about — completely unplugging from normal life.
Of course we missed the kids, but we had a great time. The week flew by, and it was one of the most relaxing and memorable trips we have ever been on. When we came back to port in Miami, my husband got a text from his brother: “The kids are doing great and have been wonderful. You should be very proud of them. They’re having so much fun, they absolutely don’t miss you. Hahaha!”
What a relief! Of course things didn’t go perfectly — meds were missed one morning, a quiz was missed because someone was late to school, and blood sugar numbers were a little less steady than usual, but overall, things were great. In fact, they went so well, maybe we’ll plan another trip soon!
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.