My mother-in-law started a really fun tradition a couple of years ago. Each summer, she invites two or three of the grandkids at a time to have a campout at her house. She always has a fun theme and plans activities around the clock for two days. They swim in the swimming pool, do crafts, sing songs, make yummy food together, roast marshmallows and sleep out under the stars (at least until they get cold and want to come inside the house!). The kids have the best time with their grandma and cousins and can’t wait until they get to do it again the next year.
Grandma gets tired out to say the least, so the last thing we want to do is add to her stress by expecting her to help manage blood sugar numbers (on top of all the other chaos that comes with watching energetic grandkids). Kaitlyn would be devastated if she couldn’t go to Grandma Camp, so we figured out (over time) ways to make it possible for her to participate.
It was a process, for sure! The first year, Kaitlyn did a daytime Grandma Camp — a camp without the camping part. She spent the whole day with grandma doing all kinds of fun things, and then we picked her up at night just after they finished up roasting marshmallows. She had a great time, but we were determined that for the next year, we would be able to let her stay overnight. When the next summer rolled around and it was Kaitlyn’s turn once again for Grandma Camp, we just decided that Evan, her dad, would go along to handle all the checking and dosing and especially to keep an eye on her overnight. This time was better, because she got to stay for the entire time, but it wasn’t quite the same as if she were completely free from Mom or Dad.
Finally, when Kaitlyn got to go this year, she stayed the whole time and slept overnight on her own, and everything worked out fine. A lot has changed this last year with how much she has been able to do on her own with minimal supervision, and I think that has made all the difference. Kaitlyn is now able to check her own blood sugar and operate her pump to give herself insulin, with a little help from a grownup. The only thing she needs help with is remembering when to check and counting carb amounts for the food she eats. As long as she gets help with these things, everything goes pretty smoothly. That night, Grandma stayed up nice and late and made sure Kaitlyn’s blood sugar was just a bit on the high side (as recommended by our doctor, just for our specific situation), so they wouldn’t have to worry as much about having a low during the night.
While Kaitlyn’s overnight experience has been limited to sleepovers at grandmas’ and cousins’ houses with Mom and Dad a short distance away, I can see that eventually she’ll be ready to handle anything a good ol’ slumber party can throw her way.
Editor’s note: Ready for a sleepover? Ask your diabetes healthcare provider for a free copy of Coco’s First Sleepover, the new book published by Disney and Lilly Diabetes, and use the discussion guide at the end to talk with your child about what to expect before the big night.
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.