When James was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I confess I wasn’t at all interested in getting away on a couples vacation. I thought I might never leave him again. But as time progressed, I did eventually feel like I needed to recharge my batteries. Craig and I felt like we needed a vacation of our own, like it would be good for our marriage and in turn, it would be good for our family. But we still felt a little anxious about finding someone to take care of James while we were gone!
I’ve talked about finding good caregivers for our kids with diabetes before, about how it is sometimes challenging. It seems like there are two extremes in personality, and either one can be problematic. Either the person in charge is too laid back to take seriously the concerns of caring for a child with diabetes, or conversely, they are so conscientious that blood sugar fluctuations majorly stress them out! My mom was always willing to help out, but it was very stressful for her. She’s definitely one of those type-A personalities. Whenever she would give insulin or feed James, she would want to know why his blood sugar wasn’t perfectly in range, as if she did something wrong. Still, she agreed to be James’ caretaker on our very first parents-only vacation following diagnosis. Yay!
To prepare her, we spent a lot of time going over the nuts and bolts of diabetes management. We taught her the principles behind insulin management as well as the technical stuff like how to change an insulin pump site and how to give an injection. We provided her with lots of supplies, detailed instruction lists, and contact numbers. She was still super nervous, but to her great credit, she agreed to take charge of James anyway.
Craig and I ended up having a wonderful time. We would check in at least once a day with my mom to see how James was doing. The first day, I confess I wondered about him all day long. By about day three of our vacation, I was much less worried. I’d also discovered that by taking charge on her own, my mom’s anxiety was finally quieted. She says the same thing. She says that until she could do all of it on her own and be ultimately responsible, she was always unsure of herself and always anxious. Once she did everything and realized she was capable, she started to gain confidence in her own ability to read the situation and make the correct choice. Experience gave her confidence! I can relate to that.
Since our good experience, I have counseled friends to go ahead and make the choice to take that couples vacation. I have shared that my mom gained confidence only by going through the process. I think this has been helpful to those families! Recently a friend of mine did something truly genius. Prior to her trip with her husband, she showed her mother a copy of her son’s continuous glucose monitor (CGM) graph. It highlighted plenty of occasions with less than ideal blood sugars. It reduced her mother’s anxiety, because she realized that even if everything isn’t absolutely perfect, it doesn’t necessarily mean she’s doing something wrong. I always stress with my caregivers that a number is just a diagnostic tool helping us to see what we need to do next. I hope that it helps!
Being away from your child with diabetes might be something that you have to do for work or for a family commitment. Or it might be something that you need! I think a good vacation can do wonders for stress and anxiety. Or maybe you’re just feeling like you want to do something fun with grownups. Any of these are good reasons to feel confident about leaving your child with a good caregiver. It can be stressful both for you and for the person who watches your child, but with the right preparation, it can be a great experience for all. On the other hand, if you aren’t “there” yet, don’t feel bad. Some day you might feel differently. And when you are ready to go, I know you can be successful!
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.